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The Haunting of Hill House

Written by: Shirley Jackson
Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
3.9 out of 5 stars (196 ratings)

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Publisher's 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.

What the critics say

“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 listeners say about The Haunting of Hill House

Average Customer Ratings
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Fantastic

Great book, being a horror book and movie enthusiast I can really see the influence this Author and this book have had on the genre over the years. I highly recommend this book for horror fans.

3 people found this helpful

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I really don't get the appeal.

I honestly don't understand the appeal of the story. Narrator was fine but man oh man that was boring and confusing. Nothing really happened, and it sort of just ended. I don't recommend it to anyone who saw the show and thought they'd check out the source material. There is virtually nothing comparable to the show other than some names of characters and the name Of the house. The show was decent but it is an example of the type of adaptations that should not continue. A better haunted mansion read was Hell House.

4 people found this helpful

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it's..ahh ok

it made me more appreciate how amazing the writers for the Netflix show were to be able to adapt such a deep story from this. It's very dated as far as the dialogue goes and the scares are very very tame and more on the psychological side of horror. It's ok.

3 people found this helpful

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One of my two most influential books

I hear this haunting, beautiful story differently when read aloud. Would prefer a male reader.

2 people found this helpful

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Not at all like movie or series

I grew up loiving the movie and expected the book to be similar, it wasn't. no child murder with Hugh Crane not letting them go, no hint that Elenore was a great great grandfather of his 2nd wife. none of main characters died either. Elenore felt connected to the house but didn't get why..

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the narration was so difficult to follow

had such a hard time getting through this one. the narrator was so hard to listen to.

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Masterpiece

Terrifying, mysterious.... we are taken inside the mind of a fragile soul who slowly gets ravaged by the evil energy of both a possessed house and the demons that live in her. Steven King and others have praised it as a masterpiece. You can see the ectoplasmic DNA of this brilliant little book all over works like the Shining.... And the reading brings it to life, or, I should say, to the dark corners haunting all our minds.

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What?

The show was so much better and I am surprised I am saying that. I believe for it’s time it was a big hit but now I have read and seen so many horror stuff that this book is middle grade for me I also believe because the TV show was so scary the book looked like a joke No one ever die no discriminations or goats how they look like imagery is weak just voices and pounding on the door and that’s it The show had created full realized characters and created ghosts that are so scary I can still remember how they look like

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Boring melodrama.

the movie is better. this novel lacks any real explanations or reason for the haunting. lacks anything scary, or remotely human in the characters. Makes you appreciate Julie Harris's performance even more.

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Delightfully Horrifying

An enticingly scary story of madness that keeps you on edge the whole 7 or so hours. It can only be described as a hauntological masterpiece of it's own kind.

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  • Crystal
  • 2014-02-11

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.

102 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 2010-11-04

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.

82 people found this helpful

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  • Old ManParker
  • 2013-04-04

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.

27 people found this helpful

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  • P.Fitzgerald
  • 2018-10-25

Getting this book because of the show? Don't.

This book is a really good read. Very detailed scenes make you feel like you're there with Elenore and Theo. However if you, like me, purchased this book because of the show adaptation, it is very different.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Alex
  • 2016-03-01

Not a very compelling story at all. =/

So after having finished the Haunting of Hill House I can safely say, for me personally, it was a snooze fest. Just boring scenario after boring scenario of verbal jousting and no real ghosts or scary things happening. An example of good Horror or sci-fi books that are my cup of tea would be Stephen King's It, or The Shining even, which in my opinion is just like THoHH, but much more gripping and intriguing. Dean Koontz Twilight Eyes. but this book, nah, was likely more of an older crowds cup of tea. Bring on the gore and violence for me! But the voice actor was clear and concise throughout, but even she did not much to nothing to add to the tale, mostly a drab word for word lecture rather than a story telling. I wasn't impressed, and this was on a top horror books of all time list. Needless to say, I won't be referencing that list again. O.o

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • anmaree
  • 2011-02-20

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!

19 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 2018-11-15

We have grown to trust blindly in our senses...

We have grown to trust blindly in our senses of balance and reason, and I can see where the mind might fight wildly to preserve its own familiar stable patters against all evidence that it was leaning sideways. - Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of House Hill I wanted to read something literary, but scary. Also, it would be nice if it wasn't super long. I'm not a big horror reader and have been purchasing (collecting?) Penguin's Deluxe Classics for a while, so I bought a couple of Shirley Jackson's novels the first week in October. This book is basically a ghost story (or perhaps a haunted house story). I jumped in it and couldn't put it down. Like most newish readers to Shirley Jackson, I am NOT new to Shirley Jackson. Almost everyone since its June 26, 1948 publication date has read Jackson's short story "The Lottery." You may think you haven't but if you are reading my reviews, I'd bet money you have. It is a staple in American Lit Anthologies. It is amazing. If you haven't read it, click on the title above. Anyway, I loved the setting, the pacing, the tension, and the writing. She reminds me a bit of Patricia Highsmith in her sharp edges and brutal clarity. She reminds you of the horrors that exist in your family and your villiage. She floats in that space between the unreal and the mundane. Jackson bruises you with a story that is just tilted a bit outside of normal. She creeps you out because her fantastic writing, seduces you, and gets so damn close.

8 people found this helpful

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  • BeaBee
  • 2013-02-16

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.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Janice
  • 2014-08-18

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.

59 people found this helpful

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  • Wild wallace
  • 2016-07-16

Boring

The book takes a long time to get to get nowhere. The book is not at spooky or scary. It is well narrated though

10 people found this helpful