Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review - We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived In The Castle
-Shirley Jackson

3 Stars

“Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!”

Since the mysterious death their family, the superstitious Mary Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood, her ailing, wheelchair-bound, uncle Julian, and agoraphobic sister Constance have lived in a contented state of isolation, secluding themselves from the taunting villagers. But when cousin Charles arrives in search of the Blackwood fortune, a terrible family secret is revealed.

"My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, and I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phallaides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead."

First off, I loved the writing style of Shirley Jackson. I loved the narrative being told from Merricat's point of view. I loved her take on the world. After that I didn't love much else. This story reads slow, with no build up what so ever. Throughout the entire story I kept wondering if there was a twist since the reveal is known up front.

There are levels of suspense, notions of paranoia and claustrophobia, but I never felt trapped enough, I never felt like there was much too lose. I was really hoping the ending would save this book, but it just stops open-ended leaving you to create your own ghost story.

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