Thursday, May 02, 2024

The five best novels about hauntings

Jen Williams lives in London with her partner and their small ridiculous cat. A fan of pirates and dark folklore from an early age, these days she writes horror-tinged crime thrillers with strong female leads as well as character-driven fantasy novels with plenty of banter and magic. In 2015 she was nominated for Best Newcomer in the British Fantasy Awards.

[My Book, The Movie: Games for Dead Girls]

Williams's new novel is The Hungry Dark.

At CrimeReads she tagged her "five favourite books about Hauntings (which are really books about Bad Places, and Terrible People)." One title on the list:
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

It is probably illegal to have a list about hauntings without including the grandmother of the modern horror novel. Shirley Jackson was the undisputed queen of the unsettling undercurrent, and by the time Eleanor arrives at Hill House with all her mental baggage, we already know that something is terribly wrong, and that the house is going to draw it out of her like a poison. Except it won’t be a healing experience. The Haunting of Hill House also contains probably the greatest opening lines in a novel ever:

‘No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.’

Please read that and tell me you are not terrified of Hill House. I still wake up in a sweat sometimes with the words ‘Hill House, not sane’ bouncing around my head.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Haunting of Hill House also appears on Sara Flannery Murphy's five top thriller and horror books with “House” in the title, Lisa Unger's list of five great horror novels that explore the darkest corners of our minds, Dell Villa's list of seven of the best haunted houses in literature, Kat Rosenfield's list of seven scary October reads, Michael Marshall Smith's top ten list of horror books, Carlos Ruiz Zafón's top ten list of 20th-century gothic novels,  and Brad Leithauser's five best list of ghost tales.

--Marshal Zeringue