The Haunting of Hill House

By Shirley Jackson,

Book cover of The Haunting of Hill House

Book description

Part of a new six-volume series of the best in classic horror, selected by Academy Award-winning director of The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro

Filmmaker and longtime horror literature fan Guillermo del Toro serves as the curator for the Penguin Horror series, a new collection of classic tales and…

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Why read it?

25 authors picked The Haunting of Hill House as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I confess I saw the 1963 movie with Julie Harris when I was a teenager before I read the book, but the book is as usual better than any film version that has been made. The appeal for me definitely comes down to the standard haunted house trope – my favourite basis for any scary story. Shirley Jackson uses a buildup of fear rather than horror to get a response from the reader which I think is far more effective. The story centres around a group of people staying at Hill House to investigate possible paranormal activity, and the creepy…

From Anne-Marie's list on scaring the bejesus out of you.

Far from just another Gothic story set in yet another ostensibly haunted mansion, Hill House is, in my opinion, the best psychological horror novel of all time (sorry Stephen King!) A bold statement, I know, but I consider Shirley Jackson my muse. When an agent once compared my writing to hers, I printed the email and taped it onto my computer as a firewall against doubt and insecurity. 

The question Jackson so subtly asks is the same one that appears (more clumsily, I’m sure) in many of my own works—is it the location or the person (in this case, Eleanor)…

From J. L.'s list on gothic reads by modern women.

This is one of the scariest and most elegant books I have ever read. It’s got all my favorite things; a haunted house, a group of charismatic flawed characters, a troubled heroine, a creeping atmosphere of dread… I was completely wrapped up from page one, routing for Elenore who, after decades of servitude under her abusive mother and dominating older sister, just wants to live her life and drink from her own cup of stars. Stephen King called this one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century, so there’s that too. 

From Sophie's list on escaping reality.

It might sound strange, but one of the things I like most about Shirley Jackson’s writing is just how brutal she is with her characters! When I first met Eleanor Vance, the lead character in The Haunting of Hill House, who’s seeking her ‘cup of stars’, I was absorbed in the slightly strained and unsettling interior monologue that lets us into her view of the world. From the start, I got the feeling of something about to snap… But personally, I’m usually rooting for the characters in the books I read, so I still hoped Eleanor might find those…

From S. T.'s list on reality becoming unreal.

The Haunting of Hill House is yet another cautionary tale. Billed as a ghost story, you never truly know what it actually is. Eleanor Vance is sick of caring for her disabled mother and wants a change in her life. She takes part in the study at an apparent haunted house. The haunting is made scary through Eleanor’s eyes (and decreasing sanity). Through her writing, Shirley Jackson creates a story that’s timeless and will never wilt. It’s like a ghost itself in that way. 

I’ve read a lot of horror novels. In my opinion, The Haunting of Hill House is the best. From its first, magnificent paragraph it writhes with anxiety, insanity, and doom. 

How did Jackson pull this off? The premise seems unpromising and formulaic: a paranormal investigator gathers three people to join him in an investigation of a haunted house. The answer rests in Jackson’s ability to depict the emotional vulnerability of her protagonist (Eleanor Vance). Eleanor has suffered for many years under the yolk of an overbearing family, and for her Hill House offers a chance for diversion and a dreadful…

From Nicole's list on paranormal investigation.

The grandmother of all haunted house books, this 1959 release is the scariest haunted house book I’ve ever read. The 1963 film adaptation is the scariest haunted house movie I’ve ever seen. Four people gather at the allegedly haunted and uninhabited Hill House—a scientist studying psychic phenomena, two women with a history of psychic ability, and the heir who wants to prove the house isn’t haunted so he can sell the place. The servants won’t even stay after sundown“in the night. In the dark.” The initial atmosphere of lurking menace builds to screaming tension. Don’t read it if…

This is my all-time favourite haunted house novel. The reason why I love the book so much is that, having always been interested in the paranormal, I like the concept of an occult scholar gathering together a group of ordinary people—all of whom have had some brush with the paranormal at some point in their lives—in this huge, rambling house, whose reputation is very dark and disturbing. I also love the ambiguity surrounding both the main character, Eleanor, and the ghostly atmosphere of Hill House itself. I mean, is Eleanor really the victim of any supernatural force that may be…

Can a house be born evil? Paranormal investigators want to find out. Jackson’s novel is both realistic and suggestive, which leaves the reader to question what is constantly being hinted at. Hill House’s slow, subtle seduction of Eleanor is a brilliant example of the descent into madness. And the ending still chills me with the deftness of Jackson’s prose.

The Haunting of Hill House is a short little novel from 1959. I’d say you need to read this one twice to get the vibe. On the first read, you’ll be taken through a normal haunted house story where four specifically-chosen strangers have agreed to a lengthy stay in a haunted house.

Their assignment is to gather information and study paranormal evidence. However, the house has a goal of its own; to claim one of them for its own.

The second read will bring you better into the mind of someone with paranoia and how they view the world and…

From Ty's list on disturbing horror stories.

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