Friday, April 6, 2012

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: October 31, 2006
Genre: Gothic Fiction
Source: Library Rental
My fascination with Shirley Jackson began at the age of fifteen. My Sophomore English teacher, Miss Randall, created a lesson plan around Gothic literature. Reading tales such as How Much Land Does a Man Need and The Yellow Wallpaper filled my mind with horrific images that evoked the spirit of the writer and horror fan within me. But it wasn’t until we read Shirley Jackson’s gothic tale The Lottery that I learned what true terror meant.
Years later I remain in awe of Jackson’s work and was overjoyed to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Just when I thought that her work couldn’t be any more intriguing, this novel comes along and proves once again why Shirley Jackson is a master of Gothic Lit.
Sisters Merrikat and Constance Blackwood live a secluded life in the dingy old mansion. But after what happened to their family what choice do they have? Rumors swirl as reminders of Constance’s trial are beginning to resurface, the trial in which she was acquitted from poisoning the elder members of her family. The girls are happy living a secluded life with their uncle, the lone survivor of the poisoning. But when their cousin decides to pay a lengthy visit, strange and unfortunate things begin to happen, and Merricat must face some truths that have always remained unspoken.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously sinister tale that creeps into the depths of the reader’s soul. This novel grabs the reader at the very beginning and holds on tight until the very last sentence. With lovable and loathsome characters, this novel introduces readers to the world of the Blackwood family and opens a magical yet dark atmosphere through the eyes of Merricat. The plot is original, the characters are powerful, and the setting is one of the creepiest of all time. With such a fantastic melding of characters and events, We Have Always Lived in the Castle will surely make the hair on your arms stand on end.
Rating: 10/10

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