Another Halloween Book Review…
I ordered Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle from interlibrary loans, and the copy I received was practically ancient. And I think the ambiance of the story was better off for it. It had that old book smell that makes reading a scary story at night just that much more authentic.
Not that this story was particularly scary; it was more just weird. Really weird. And I’m not quite sure I get everything that happened. But I’m also not sure I was supposed to.
No-one in town likes the inhabitants of Blackwood House. One of its three residents probably poisoned all the other family members that once lived there. Merricat is the only one who ever leaves the house, forced to enter town to shop for groceries and borrow books from the library. She is a young lady who is not at all right, but it is hard to put your finger on exactly why. Her sister Constance is an agoraphobe to the extreme, and Uncle Julian has dementia and a obsession with murder. What exactly is going on in this house? And what happened the day of the poisoning? As these things often go, a stranger brings irreversible change to this house and these haunted characters.
These are weirdo characters. They are unhinged to say the least. And yet, you almost want to sympathize with Merricat, as her world dissolves around her, while at the same time feeling that her world should never have existed in the first place.
There is something about books that I don’t quite get. I feel like they are incomplete when they finish. So this book left me just a bit unsatisfied. But despite that, this book has some of the best dark, macabre humor and some of the most neurotic characters I’ve ever read. More eerie than frightening, this is another good Halloween read.