Shirley Jackson Reading Week: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

July 13, 2015 Crime, Frightening, Mystery 18

Greetings Bookworms!

I’m highly susceptible to suggestion. Why, last week I was reading a book where the characters were devouring a ham, and I really wanted to eat some ham. A legit ham, too, none of this cold cut nonsense. The very next day someone posted a photo of their fried fish that happened to be shaped like Illinois on Facebook, and doggone it, I wanted to eat all the fried fish (I later got that fried fish, and it was delicious. I still haven’t had any ham.) It’s not just food, though, folks. It works with books too! For example… I saw that several delightful bloggers were planning a Shirley Jackson Reading Week July 13-18 and I was all, “oooh I should do that. Get me some Shirley Jackson, stat!” (Thanks to fabulous hosts Stuck in a Book, Reading the End, and Things Mean a Lot!)


I’d read The Lottery, which is a creeptastic short story in school at some point, but that was it. I decided to tackle We Have Always Lived in the Castle for two reasons. First, I’d heard it was awesome. Second, the cover is haunting, yo. I knew chills were just around the corner. I hauled up a copy on Scribd to read with my ears and let me tell you, that Bernadette Dunne? What a narrator. Whew. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Blackwood house has a sinister past. Once one of the town’s most respected and stately homes, it is now the macabre scene of a mass poisoning. The suspected murderess is dwelling in the massive house again, along with her elderly uncle (and arsenic poisoning survivor) Julian and younger sister Merricat. To say that the crew is odd is an understatement, but just how many secrets they harbor start to be revealed when a distant relation comes to call.

So creepy, right?!

So creepy, right?!

I’ve always heard that I should check out Shirley Jackson because she’s the queen of the dark and twisty. Turns out everyone was right. Because for real. What in the actual fiddlesticks? This book, man. Constance, Merricat, what in heaven’s name went on during your formative years?! And holy macaroni, the townsfolk. I can’t even! If you haven’t read any Shirley Jackson yet, I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It’s deliciously devious and enough to make you fear children, townsfolk, and sugar bowls. Dun dun dun!

Talk to me Bookworms! Anybody have a recommendation as to which Shirley Jackson I should read next?

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18 Responses to “Shirley Jackson Reading Week: We Have Always Lived in the Castle”

  1. Megan M.

    I think “The Lottery” is the only story of hers I’ve ever even heard about. This one sounds fabulous! I hope the library has it, since the Kindle edition is too much for me.

    • Words For Worms

      I listened on Scribd. $8.99 for all I can listen to audio books is the best. I hope your library has it though- I think they should. It’s classic.

  2. Rory


    I love things all dark and twisted, but I have not read this one. How have I not read this?!

  3. Christy

    Sugar bowls! The Haunting of Hill House is a solid haunted-house story. I enjoyed it very much. That’s the only other book I’ve read by Shirley Jackson besides We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

    And I swear I probably mention this every time someone reviews this book, but if you’re curious, Tennis wrote a song called Deep in the Woods that’s inspired by We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

  4. Jennine G.

    This is the Shirley Jackson recommended to me. A couple people read and reviewed at a time a little while ago and it’s been on my radar. I’ll have to see if I can squeeze it in between Outlander and my AP reading.

  5. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Yaayyyyyyyyyyy! So so so glad you liked this! The Haunting of Hill House is extremely solid, as some other commenters have noticed. Of her lesser-known novels, I was not wild about The Bird’s Nest or Hangsaman, I have not yet read the one with Road in the title that I cannot currently remember, and then there is The Sundial. READ THAT. It’s so weird and creepy, and Shirley Jackson’s humor is on full display in it, which is awesome. THE SUNDIAL.

    • Words For Worms

      I started The Haunting of Hill House right after I finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle, but I changed my mind and decided I needed to save it for the fall :). I’ll have to check out The Sundial!

Talk to me, Bookworms!

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