While trolling the Salvation Army bookshelf one day, I came across a treasure: The Haunting of Hill House. I had read Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery in high school and thought it was deliciously creepy, but in my youth I was caught up in the shocking “in your face” horror of Stephen King and found Jackson too tame for me.
Over the years though I grew weary of the consistant stream of profanity. When I was a kid, it was fun to read all the words I was not allowed to say. When I was an adult, it was tiresome to read the words I did not want to say.
At some point in time, I lost interest in Stephen King and got rid of my paperback collection, though I’ve kept a few favorites here and there (probably my favorite books are The Stand, The Shining and The Talisman.)
Shirley Jackson’s book entertained me without the unnecessary expletives and crude references that seem to be King’s trademark; I prefer the more subtle (hauntingly subtle?) approach as I wander through this world…real or make believe. I could relate to Eleanor, on a certain level; my mom had been very controlling of me until I was well into my 20s, so I understood her need for freedom…I closed the book wondering if there really is a Hill House somewhere in the world, and if there is – I’d love to go see it.
Hill House – not sane – stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within. It had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm and doors were sensibly shut. Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House and whatever walked there, walked alone.
When describing the house, Jackson tells us that just looking at Hill House causes one to be upset, disturbed; things seem wrong; and that’s before stepping inside. I’ve seen houses like that – on the surface, you can’t really put your finger on anything, but there is an undercurrent with certain houses. Attic windows look like sinister eyes watching your every move, doors look like gaping mouths ready to devour you as you enter…while other homes look normal; benign, welcoming.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Haunting of Hill House, and wish there were more books as scary – without the foul language…more and more, I’m convinced that I’m wand’ring through the wrong generation.