The Haunting of Hill House 2018 Netflix Tv Show Series Review Impelreport
There are two things that TERRIFY me: ghost stories and haunted houses. The Haunting of Hill House combines both in a story of psychological Horror. That is to say: this book is like my kryptonite and I have been sleeping with the lights on ever since I finished it.
First published in 1959, The Haunting of Hill House is considered one of the best Horror stories ever and I can see why: I found myself loving it completely. This is a brilliant book.
Dr. Montague is an investigator of supernatural events who puts together a group of people to spend a few months at the infamous Hill House. He has chosen those he invited very carefully, based on previously experienced paranormal activity, hoping that will mean that those people would be more attuned to the paranormal. In the end though only two people show up, two young women named Theodora and Eleanor. Theo is a bohemian artist who just had a fight with her flat mate (possibly a lover?) and needs to clear her head; Eleanor is a reclusive, shy woman who spent most her adult life nursing her recently deceased mother. The group is joined by Luke, the young heir to Hill House.
The story is narrated from Eleanor’s point of view and it’s through her eyes that we experience everything that the group does. The story starts really slowly and for the first 100 or so pages nothing significant happens in terms of paranormal activity. Until it does: and it is terrifying.
The thing is, those first pages are essential to this storytelling and to understanding the presumed supernatural elements. In those first few pages we get acquainted with our narrator and see her frame of mind at the starting point. We follow her as she experiences the freedom of making her own choices, as she drives through empty roads and small towns, hopeful she is driving toward new things (perhaps it will end in a love story?). As get to Hill House it is her description of its darkness and strangeness and her description of its creepy caretakers with their message of DOOM (who oddly, work really well as comic relief) that colour our own view of the house and its inhabitants. And of course, there is also her depiction of the rest of the group and how she perceives them to be, how she sees her place in the dynamics of the group and how the relationships develop between them.
In Eleanor’s narrative lies the brilliance of this novel. It is as engaging as it is unnerving – all the more so because it is possible to see the little, subtle lies she tells the group about herself. Then, little by little, things start to change as the group experience the events. Is the House really Evil and haunted? Is it affecting the dynamics of the group and changing their personalities? Or is the house (or perhaps the idea of the house) affecting only Eleanor and as such Eleanor’s views of them that are being altered? There is a lot that could be said for both explanations of the events that take place in the book.
More than that though, there is a lot of subtext when it comes to the characters that is open for interpretation: is Theodora lesbian? Is Eleanor and Theodora’s relationship romantic in nature? What about Luke? Does he have feelings for either woman or none of them? How to interpret those will depend on what each reader brings into the reading of the book.
But even if the supernatural elements never really happened (or have they), I will still sleep with the lights on for the time being, thank you very much. Another thing I will do is to buy the author’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle which, I hear, is also fabulous.