Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Mystery, Short Story, Horror
My Rating: 4 stars
Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you’ll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!
I recently finished watching the Netflix show The Haunting of Hill House, which is based on a novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson. Having really enjoyed the show, when I stumbled upon We Have Always Lived in the Castle and noticed that it was written by Shirley Jackson, I absolutely had to try it out.
From the beginning of the book, you know that something terrible happens. But you don’t know exactly how it happened, or who could have been responsible. So the whole time as you’re reading, you’re watching to see if there are any clues, or anything you can glean from the tidbits and small amounts of information each character gives us. I went into this very open minded, and was expecting something out of the ordinary, but I will admit that the final outcome wasn’t as outlandish as what I was expecting.
“It was a fine morning,” Uncle Julian said, his voice going on and on,
“a fine bright morning, and none of them knew it was their last.”
The book bordered on the edge of surreal, and that made it hard to tell what was really happening and what was something Mary Katherine was making up in her head. She constantly talks about being on the moon, for example, and she frequently uses sympathetic magic (yes, I had to look this up, but basically she uses the placement of items to try and get what she wants to happen- almost in a wishful/magical way). This abstract way of writing kept the book interesting and invoked uncomfortable feelings, but it also made the plot very murky, and I had to look up an explanation of what actually happened when I was finished to be sure that I interpreted everything correctly.
Overall, I would give the book a shot, because while it is a very quick read it was still able to invoke a range of feelings and to portray a very interesting story. It was a bit creepy in a slow burn sort of way, and the mystery kept me going from page one.