Thursday, November 24, 2011
Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
This is a delightfully creepy story, in which Jackson reminds us that the most frightening tales need not rely on graphic violence, spilling blood, or similar. This is the story of Merricat Blackwood, who lives in the family home with her sister and uncle. The rest of the family is dead, having been poisoned at dinner years ago. The Blackwoods have become pariahs in town; Merricat is the only one who ventures out beyond the old, Gothic manse they call home. How the family came to be poisoned, and how the sisters have come to exist on the fringes of society are revealed as the book develops.
This book is pure weird, psychological suspense. I loved it for that very reason, and stayed up half the night so that I could read this in one sitting. I was shocked to discover that Merricat is supposed to be eighteen. She behaves more like a stunted child than an adult. As unique as the characters are, it's the house that remains seared in my memory. When I think of this book, I think of the house, the castle, such as it is. The castle is a character in this book. It has a life, presence, and personality of its own. I would definitely recommend this book, especially as a classic for those who generally don't care for classics.
Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Penguin, 2006, orig. 1962) ISBN: 0143039970