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We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson, The Viking Press, 1962, 146 pp
Summary from Goodreads: 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 curiosity 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.
This was my Halloween read. (Yes, I am a bit behind in posting reviews.) It was perfectly spooky and unsettling.
The best aspect was a steady building of creepy tension. Though that is Shirley Jackson's most notorious skill, she kicked it up a notch here in her final novel.
Mary Katherine and her older sister Constance live alone with their senile Uncle Julian in a big house on the edge of town. The rest of the Blackwood family are dead. None of the family were liked in town and Mary Katherine is the only one who ventures there for the weekly shopping. She is bullied in disturbing ways. During the course of the tale you find out the whys for all the strangeness.
It gets continuously more disturbing and there is no redemption at the end. If that bothers you, don't read Shirley Jackson, ever!
I have not read much Stephen King but now that I have read all of Shirley Jackson's novels, I believe I may be ready. She holds up a mirror to our deepest unspoken fears and desires. We all have them as well as evil thoughts we dare not act out.
I also want to read the recently published biography: Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin. Ms Jackson gives me courage and permission to tell my own stories.
(We Have Always Lived in the Castle is available in various formats by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore.)