Shirley Jackson was formerly a name most recognized for the short story The Lottery (published in The New Yorker in 1948). However, it’s likely she’s now more commonly associated with last year’s Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House that had us all “scrying.” Written by Jackson in 1959, the gothic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House is often considered one of the best ghost stories, ever. During her more than 20 year career Jackson published a total of six novels, hundreds of short stories and two memoirs. The last novel she ever published was in 1962 just three years before her death. And that novel was We Have Always Lived in the Castle, our October selection!
The book begins six years after a deadly family tragedy at the Blackwood home. Eighteen-year-old “Merricat” Blackwood (our narrator), her elder sister Constance, and their uncle Julian were the only survivors. Now living on an isolated estate perched above a small town in Vermont, the local residents tell stories and build legends around this strange family.
“…I would hope that readers new to it might feel, as I did when I first discovered it, a quiet astonishment that such books can and do exist, and that writing can be so masterful. I’m envious of those that read it for the first time, and go on to discover Shirley Jackson’s astounding body of work encompassing the scary, the horrific and the just plain weird.
There isn’t a shred of the supernatural in Castle, though it feels like there is. It’s perhaps a story of what eventually makes the haunted houses so beloved of Jackson, the echoes of violence and emotion that are imprinted on the places in which we live. It’s obsessed with death but brimming over with life, and that’s perhaps the perfect recipe for the making of the best ghosts of all.”
— The Guardian, David Barnett
Maybe it’s because the novel’s so short (barely over 200 pages), but there doesn’t seem to be much else to say of the plot without giving too much away. Although like The Haunting of Hill House, this one was recently captured on screen as a feature film just last year. So if you want to know a little more, take a look at the trailer (it seemed fairly spoiler-free)…
We look forward to diving into this eerie mystery for October—the perfect time for creep and strange in our reading life. We hope you’ll read with us!
- pick up a copy and read along with us anytime before the end of October
- keep us posted on social using #booklymark and tagging @thebooklyclub
- stay tuned for our discussion post on Instagram and our reviews here on the blog so we can chat all about it!
P.S. you really need to watch The Haunting of Hill House if you haven’t already! Yes, it’s a little scary at first, but by episode 5ish it turns into SO MUCH MORE! Totally worth all the spooky parts. The last episode had me reaching for all the tissues.