Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle  by Shirley Jackson Genre:  Gothic fiction Synopsis:   Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estat...

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Genre: Gothic fiction

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

Content/Trigger Warnings: Abuse, arson, bullying

Overall rating:  ★★★★☆

Shirley Jackson is the queen of horror, and I remember reading The Lottery in high school, and I loved the Netflix adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, but I can't believe it took me this long to read more from her. 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is weird and creepy, and the characters are eccentric. Merricat, in particular, is an odd duck, but so well written that you can't help but be charmed by her quirkiness. 

The story was saddening in so many ways - the bullies, the folks trying to take advantage of the Blackwoods. But it was also hauntingly, quietly spooky without being totally in-your-face horror. 

"I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village."

Classics aren't my usual go-to. I often find them dull, and that was the case at times with We Have Always Lived in the Castle as well. But overall, I found this book to be quietly haunting and well-written. I'm glad to have finally read it.

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