Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle


Terrifying women all around with this one — Shirley Jackson delivers every single time when it comes to sheer psychology-based horror; and so, for that matter, do her characters.  You’re barely ten minutes into the story, and you’re already supremely uneasy — and boy, does this ever have a slow, peeling-away-layer-by-layer burn ending in a gigantic dynamite fuse.  There’s no way to write about this book without instantly giving away spoilers, so I … just won’t, even though most people are probably already familiar with the story anyway.  Truly masterful storytelling, in any event; truly unsettling social commentary and, in the audio version I own, also truly masterfully rendered by Bernadette Dunne.  I started listening to this one night when I really should have gone to bed much earlier — and ended up finishing the complete audio in a single sitting; there was no way I could have stopped, even though ultimately it was solely due to my being crash-and-knocked-out tired from entirely unrelated RL exertions that I was able to sleep afterwards at all.

I don’t know how often I will actually revisit this book, but I do know that it, and the ladies in “the castle,” will stay with me forever.

0 thoughts on “Shirley Jackson: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

    1. I haven‘t seen the movie, but if you didn‘t find it scary, I‘ll wager to say that it may or may not have captured the surface plot, but almost definitely not the underlying strata of menace. Mind you, much of this is accomplished in the book by the narrative perspective and the narrator‘s comments / internal dialogue, which may be hard to capture in a movie … but that only argues even stronger for reading the book! 🙂

    2. Jackson was a master of psychological horror — this book is an extremely slow burn; and yet, you‘re deeply worried before anything has even happened at all yet, literally from the very beginning.

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