Set aside a couple of hours in a quiet corner and lose yourself in this tense, gothic classic from Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in The Castle, a gem of a read for fans of psychological horror. Set in Vermont, New England, eighteen year-old Merricat Blackwood lives in virtual isolation with her sister Constance and Uncle Julien, secluded in their secrets and their strangeness – no spoilers here though!
Practicing her own personal brand of witchcraft, Merricat is a strange, feral young woman, with a strong will and a powerful narrative to match. Content to be with nature, running wild and unwashed, she shares a deep love for Constance, but hates people in general. So when her cousin Charles appears out of the blue, turning her devoted older sister’s head, trouble comes…
Engrossing, this was Jackson’s final novel, first published in 1962, only three years before her untimely death at just 48. It is a short, wonderful book. The kind of book you can barely tear yourself away from to make a cup of tea or lift your glass of wine. Explaining nothing, yet expertly unfolding a complex and horrifying tale, love her or hate her, the character of Merricat Blackwood will linger with you long after you’ve finished reading.
I’m holding my breath with anticipation for the movie version, coming soon, produced by Michael Douglas and filmed in Ireland with several Irish names featured in the cast and crew.
Shirley Jackson wrote some incredible short stories, including The Lottery, and was also the author of the classic gothic horror, The Haunting of Hill House.