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The Haunting of Hill House

Written by: Shirley Jackson
Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (95 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my two most influential books

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

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

81 of 88 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    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.

72 of 80 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • StaceyZ
  • 2018-11-13

Just okay

I really wanted to love this story but it just didn't keep my interest. Oh well.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    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!

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Old Man Parker
  • 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.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

25 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

43 of 54 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Leigh M
  • 2018-10-25

Anticlimactic

I've heard so much about this book and how great it is. And let me tell you: great it is not. Dull mostly with very few exciting moments.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Annette
  • 2015-11-05

Praiseworthy for its era but cringeworthy today

The narrator, Bernadette Dunne, is an excellent performer. Her voice brought each character alive and honestly, it was her performance that compelled me to keep going to the end of the book. At the time it was written I'm sure it was groundbreaking and I respect that. It conveys such horror and dread so quietly, so subtly. Yet throughout the whole book I felt irritated. The main characters are so narcissistic, immature and even mentally ill, I found it painful to spend time with them, listening to their thoughts and conversations. I'm glad I listened to know why it's so well known but I'll never go back to Hill House.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • HeyCatherine
  • 2016-06-20

Glad I have the old David Warner recording

Would you try another book from Shirley Jackson and/or Bernadette Dunne?

At eleven years of age, Shirley M. Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House was one of my favorite books. When I read Fahrenheit 451, Hill House was the book I imagined memorizing myself. I have almost everything she wrote in my home, and the ones I don't own I have read from the library. I bought We Have Always Lived in the Castle as soon as I saw it was finally available.

Sadly, I discovered later that I do not care for Bernadette Dunne as a reader for these two books. Let me be clear, Ms. Dunne is a lively reader with a good voice and fine delivery. I think what my problem with her is, she doesn't match the delivery of the reader in my head, and by that I mean that her tone feels "off" somehow. In my mind, these are two tragic Jackson tales. Ms. Dunne's voice is simply too cheery to be reading this material.

I think she would be terrific reading something comic such as a Thorne Smith novel.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eleanor Vance because she tries so hard to find some happiness.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was fine, just not to my taste. I think it didn't fit my preconceptions and interpretation of the characters and events.

Do you think The Haunting of Hill House needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Good grief. I read a book where Shirley M. Jackson explained where she got the idea for Hill House. The biography had a picture of the actual house that the fictional mansion was patterned after. I know the disturbing real house was torn down. (That's the only thing you could do with Hill House.) But I don't know that anyone has written about the state of the site after the house was removed. It may not have helped to remove the building...

Honestly, I think essentially the follow-up would be Luke Sanderson in a high reach excavator with a full demolition crew. But it wouldn't make much of a book.

Any additional comments?

The book is a great ghost story, but I wish it was longer. I didn't want to leave.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful