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Summary

Past the rusted gates and untrimmed hedges, Hill House broods and waits….

Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own.

Shirley Jackson (1916–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote such classic novels as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Bird’s Nest, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery”. She has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson.

©1959 Shirley Jackson; renewed 1987 by Laurence Hyman, Barry Hyman, Sarah Webster, and Joanne Schnurer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

“Makes your blood chill and your scalp prickle…Shirley Jackson is the master of the haunted tale.” ( New York Times Book Review)
“Now widely regarded as the greatest haunted-house story ever written.” ( Wall Street Journal)
“Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.” (Dorothy Parker, Esquire)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    115
  • 4 Stars
    98
  • 3 Stars
    55
  • 2 Stars
    13
  • 1 Stars
    15

Performance

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    127
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    71
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    38
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    13
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    7

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    106
  • 4 Stars
    74
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    43
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    13
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Stunning

I knew nothing about this book other than it has a high-standing reputation. I wanted a 'ghost story' for Christmas. I listened to it lying in bed with no distractions and, boy, did I get my money's worth. The atmosphere and descriptions are powerful enough, but it is the psychological portrait of, and interaction between the characters which takes this book far beyond 'genre' into a 'classic'. Unsettling and scary because it insinuates itself into you, rather than frightening with shocks. And though her voice may be an acquired taste I thought that Bernadette Dunn's reading is extraordinary.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Unsettling and spooky story excellently performed

I like to listen to something spooky at Halloween and have wanted to read this for a while. What I like about this story is the fact that so much is left up to the reader to decide. The narrator is so obviously unreliable that it's never clear if we can trust a thing she says. Who has seen what? Is everyone in the house experiencing the same thing? Hill House itself has a strong presence as a character and even the dimensions and angles of the rooms seem to be inherently evil. I was reminded a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's non-Euclidean geometry in Dreams of the Witch House (one for the fans there).

If you've seen the truly dreadful film with Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, please rest assured that it bears almost no relation to this source material.

Bernadette Dunne is a great narrator who manages to portray the apparent malice of the house and really seems to get inside Eleanor's head.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Adele
  • Strusshamn, Norway
  • 06-11-12

You are invited...

Take a tour of Hill House, and experience the chilling, bizarre events it encloses!

Eleanor’s invitation to Hill House by Dr.Montague is one she most likely wouldn’t have accepted, had she been aware of its looming consequences, but longing for new adventure, and “borrowing” her sister’s car, she finds her way there. At the house, despite a gloomy welcome, she eventually starts to feel safe, and quickly makes new friends in the other guests. But all is not what it seems, and soon she is entwined in a web of otherworldly encounters. Despite looking terror in the eye, Eleanor seems eventually to overcome her fears inside Hill House…or does she?

I enjoyed how the story went from a classic ghost story to a deeper, darker, and more surreal twist of events. The narration to me seemed a little contrived in parts, but otherwise I thought it flowed well.

Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel is a perfect listen for a perfect, moody night, and will make you stay awake if you need to!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Canonical, but somewhat dated

This is a classic ghost story by a talented author, and the the way she evokes an atmosphere of dread is truly impressive. But however skilfully Jackson employs terror, rather than horror, they novel falls short of being "scary", and becomes simply interesting fit what it has to say about human nature under extreme duress. This is actually Jackson's speciality. Where the novel also excels is in characterization. The four principal characters are excellently drawn, with Theodora and, especially, Eleanor, possessed of such a rich inner life that they truly live. Even minor players such as Mrs Dudley, Mrs Montague, and Arthur, transcend their function as caricatures and become believable.

But to me this ends up feeling more like a story about mental illnesses than the supernatural.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

expected more.

as one of the 'scariest' books ever written, it was slow and the ending was thoroughly disappointing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Supernatural story

Tense but finally disappointing. Characters rather shallow and some characters completely unnecessary. Book kept you on edge for first half and then seemed fairly predictable

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad, but has its drawbacks

The story itself isn't too bad. It has a high-ranking place in ghost story lore so that's why I thought I'd give it a go.



It took me absolutely ages to get through it, purely because of two reasons:



1. The narrator, in my opinion, does the story no justice. Her voice for Eleanor sounds dreadful. I just can't describe how much her voice irks me.



2. The characters don't act or even talk like real people would in certain places. I think my main problem is the character of Eleanor.



But this is just my opinion. Other people have given it good reviews, so I think Haunting on Hill House really is one of those that you have to try for yourself.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Things we're apparently scarier in the 50's.

It starts weird and well. It simmers along alright it tantalises you then becomes a farse then jist dwindles out. The big finale is lame.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Subtly chilling, an incredible work

The Haunting of Hill House is not for those wanting gore or outright blood curling horror, but is for those wanting an incredible story told through chilling descriptions and the type of subtle character development that only Shirley Jackson can provide. A true masterpiece of the genre that will resonate with readers long after the last page.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The Granddaddy of Haunted House Novels

Don't be put off by some of the negative reviews here, this is worth reading. The plot is subtle and psychologically complex. People who have been desensitised to horror by modern horror movies will likely find it boring. But if you are a patient reader, the book will repay your efforts and then some - this is a novel worth ticking off the bucket list.

I found the narrator slightly nasally, but nothing too bad.


Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 04-11-10

Superb Reading of Horror Classic

Dunne's performance of Jackson's novel is just about perfect. Her husky, flexible voice provides a consistent sense of character and tone. I have a book on writing horror fiction. The editors ran a poll of top horror/fantasy writers as to "best of" and Jackson's Haunting of Hill House came in first. It is on Stephen King's list of "ten best." It is a wonderfully-written novel that gets inside your head. As one reads this, one sees how huge an influence it was upon King, as several elements play powerfully into Carrie, Rose Red, and other works.

47 of 53 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Crystal
  • 11-02-14

Well written horror tale

I chose to listen to this book in order to pass the time while organizing and cleaning the kitchen. I remembered Ms. Jackson's stirring short story, "The Lottery" and hoped this would be just as intriguing. I used the book as an incentive to get done a job I did not want to do and it was treat was to listen to this book as I went about my task. This book has been on my list for a while, after learning that Ms. Jackson wrote in this genre. I don't read many supernatural thrillers but this one was a good one that wasn't too "freaky" that would leave me with nightmares. I would think that it sits solidly in the genre along with Henry James' Turn of the Screw and as well as Stephen King's The Shining. It some ways it reminded me of both. I'm sure that it was on the cutting edge, written in the 1950's when everything was to be happy and pleasant. I appreciated the solid description that helped build the scene in my mind without being overly descriptive and flowery. Her characterization is solid but not overwhelmingly vivid, except maybe for the Doctor's wife. She was maybe a bit too vivid. This "ghost" story sits adequately between the old and the new in the genre. I was adequately entertain without my intelligence being insulted. I look forward to reading other pieces from Ms. Jackson.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • BeaBee
  • 16-02-13

Best narrator I've listened to to date

Would you listen to The Haunting of Hill House again? Why?

I wouldn't, only because I've never been the type to read/listen to a book twice. It's nothing negative about the book itself.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Haunting of Hill House?

The ending....although I won't say anything more to spoil it

Which character – as performed by Bernadette Dunne – was your favorite?

I enjoyed her performance for all the characters. She did an amazing job distinguishing them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutly. I was highly disappointed when I would arrive at my destinantion and have to turn off the book.

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • anmaree
  • 20-02-11

Well written story that captures the imagination.

The book is written well and in detail, the narrator really portray's the characters very well giving each their own uniqueness, this makes it quite easy to imagine yourself in the book, which is what makes it so enjoyable!

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Old Man Parker
  • 04-04-13

Perhaps the best haunted house tale of all time.

Where does The Haunting of Hill House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of my favorites.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well, hard to say, Elie, who you see much of the story through is going mad, so is not all times very likable, I think the Dr. who put together the experiment is interesting, the sexy woman psychic is fun, the idle rich boy is not very deep...perhaps the house itself is the strangest character.

Have you listened to any of Bernadette Dunne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

She has a great voice with depth and texture, wonderful for a ghost story, a crime drama, or a tale of terror.

If you could rename The Haunting of Hill House, what would you call it?

That's a hard one. "The Haunting of Hill House" is a classic title which sounds so right. It chills with it's mere words. Perhaps a second book could be called "The Hunger of Hill House"?

Any additional comments?

This is one of the all time great "Haunted House" stories. It set the bench mark for most every haunted house that has come after. If you love the horror genre, you MUST listen to this book. It's a classic.

14 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Janice
  • 18-08-14

A Disappointment

I really wanted to like this story. I enjoy a good ghost story that is more on the psychologically spooky side (as opposed to the slasher, gory side), and thought this would fit the bill nicely. But the handling of the characters consistently got in the way of the atmosphere. The problems:

• None of the subjects participating in this expedition to the haunted house seemed to be serious about actually trying to discover its secrets. They moved in, experienced the strange phenomena, but afterwards never even discussed among themselves what had happened or even seemed terribly surprised or concerned. We were told they wrote copious notes, but they never seemed to go anywhere.

• The too-clever, ironic conversations felt contrived and out of place. Perhaps the wry humor was meant to be a sort of whistling-in-the-dark, but it didn't work for me.

• The crazy bangings and door slammings, voices and wall writings are all sensory events that are difficult to convey in writing with the impact they deserve. Perhaps the impact would have been heightened if the characters themselves had seemed to be more viscerally affected. But they all just got over it a few minutes later, looked for the brandy and made more jokes. I have seen the 1963 film version, and found it satisfyingly spooky, largely because the actors were able to convince me that they were scared themselves.

• I found Dr. Montague’s wife to be one of the single most irritating characters I have ever read. Worse, her nearly comical militant spiritualist crusade further weakened Dr. Montague’s already weak character, undermining any pretense of scientific authority he held.

I wish I could recommend this classic, but for me it did not live up to its billing.

25 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 20-04-16

not scary at all

didn't find it scary or entertaining at all tbh, if you want a better huanted house type book I recommend hell house by Richard Matheson much better story similar plot but 100× better

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jay Quintana
  • 08-04-16

Never once was I scared. This is drama, not...

... horror. Perhaps if I went into this thinking it was The Bell Jar with a dash of the supernatural, my opinion would be different. This is well written. But if something is billed as horror and it fails to terrify in the slightest, then, well, it deserves a harsh rating. The raves this book has received completely baffles me. Characters are scared, then say they're fine. Scared, then say they're fine. Don't the chills have to build and grow and make you afraid and yet compelled to reach the end?

I acknowledge, though, that maybe everything happened beneath the surface and I just missed it. All I know is, none of the characters -- with the exception, perhaps, of Mrs. Dudley -- were interesting or unique.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 1/2DHsquared
  • 31-01-13

Was she crazy or did it happen?

For those who have only seen the original "the Haunting" (Hollywood film), the original story is much more about what is happening inside the mind of the main character. Julie Harris portrayed her very well, and her unbalanced mind came through in the film, but the book is able to better convey the mental issues that the character was dealing with, without being able to differentiate between reality and what was happening inside her own mind.

The story leaves you wondering what actually happened, and what was merely a reflection of the character's perceptions only.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Calliope
  • 23-09-14

a classic that isn't as terrorizing as I'd hoped

This is a classic novel of terror, not horror -- it's more about the things that go bump in the night and set off disturbing and paranoid thoughts in people's minds. It's all psychological, no blood-and-guts violence. Still, this story (unlike some other of Jackson's works) doesn't really stand the test of time with respect to the characterizations and dialogue. I didn't like the supposedly witty banter that seemed to take up a lot of time and only made the characters seem superficial and uninteresting. I liked the opening and set up, and I liked the ending, but the middle of the story seemed too lightweight and unfocused.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful