Rediscover: The Haunting of Hill House

December 14, 2016, marked the 100th anniversary of Shirley Jackson's birth. Among other centennial celebrations, Penguin Classics released a special deluxe edition of Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, with an evocative new cover by artist Aron Wiesenfeld ($18, 9780143129370). Though Jackson is perhaps best known for her short story "The Lottery," which has shocked many students over the years with its macabre twist on New England village life, her novels The Bird's Nest (1954), The Sundial (1958) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962) cemented her legacy as a master of subtle psychological terror.

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) is considered among the best horror stories written in the 20th century. The eponymous house, an 80-year-old Victorian mansion nestled in an unnamed rural location, and, as described in the book's eloquent opening paragraph, "not sane," is the site of a paranormal investigation led by Dr. John Montague. Shy Eleanor Vance, flamboyant Theodora and Luke Sanderson, rakish heir to the home, join Montague's ghost hunt, which exposes as many secrets about the investigators as it does about the house. Jackson keeps the narrative close to Eleanor, melding the exterior supernatural with her interior psychological breakdown to creepy effect. The Haunting of Hill House is the perfect spooky tale to read in the night. In the dark. --Tobias Mutter

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