I had seen reports of people claiming to have passed out or feeling sick from watching the Netflix TV show for this story, not realising it had come from a book. When my book club chose it I felt less than enthused.
Im not one for horror ghost stories – I just about managed point horror books as a kid, and will quite happily miss a social to see a cinema horror. I made a deal with myself that I would read it, but only in the daylight with other people around just in case!
So, in brief – this is the story of a man who wants to understand the impact and behaviours of people when they stay in a haunted house. Hill House has a reputation – you cant leave when its dark, the villagers won’t come near it, and the house itself is oddly built. Initially we have the man who invites everyone, two girls and the heir apparent to the property. They stay, have unusual experiences that effect their behaviours subtly over time.
At the start, I struggled with the writing style – Shirley Jackson was first published in 1948, so the older style of writing didn’t flow so well for me, it felt block. Staccato is how I would describe it. It felt like I was reading a news article rather than a fiction book. I know some of this may also be because I wasn’t completely into the idea of the book and I was waiting for the moment I had to stop reading and put the book in the freezer (friends reference there for those of you who are confused ‘The one where Monica and Richard are Friends’).
It didn’t come. I’m not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed by that.
Stephen King gave this book a rave review, which I know is high praise but I just don’t get it. Yes, its an intriguing story, but its also a little boring. I understand with the TV budgets and tech this can be made into a scary show, but even with my overactive imagination I wasn’t even a little bit creeped out. Maybe I missed something – I did find that I was looking at some sentences more than reading them, and having to return to read it properly on several occasions.
I’m glad I read the book purely because it means I can join in the conversation at the next book night, but beyond that I think for the £8.99 I would rather have saved my money, had a few extra glasses of wine and admitted it wasn’t for me so I didn’t read it.