Wow was that a good horror story, it kept me guessing the whole time, if any of the characters are ghost or not, which I won’t spoil. The narrator of the story was so dark in her telling of the story. The tone is set early of mistrust and paranoia making the narrator so unreliable. The story was written in 1962 and has not aged at all, it reads pretty fast. I have read and loved Shirley Jackson’s story story The Lottery and seen the unforgettable short film. But I liked this story even more. It is totally best to go in not knowing too much, then when you get to the end, you’ll go oh man I know this story. The ending deserves a slow clap for what is pulled off. I definitely makes me what to read other works by her.

The Plot: We meet Mary Katherine Blackwood, the Narrator, 18, on her way to the village from her home. We hear from her that this is the last time she is ever going to be in the village. She hates the people of the village, but we do not know why she makes every effort to avoid most only the one or two that she is friendly with. She has a hostile interaction with a villager who she immediately wishes dead, she flees and returns to the Blackwood manor. Where she checks on strange omens she has put up to protect the house, but she doesn’t tell what. we then meet her sister Constance who’s a little bit off, she enjoys baking, is very polite, and is sort of the mother figure. Then we meet Uncle Julian, who is in a wheel chair and suffers from a little dementia, He’s been working on a family history of the Blackwood’s that seems like for decades. They have tea with Mrs. Clarke, but Mary starts worrying abut how her sister, but about herself too, because Mrs. Clarke has brought an uninvited guest. Mary doesn’t trust the guest but Constance is fine with it saying she’d been there before. When Uncle Julian joins the tea, we find that the guest isn’t just there for the tea but what’s to know about a dark a dirty family secret, that Uncle Julian is all to willing to tell, which has consequences.

What I liked: The tone is so dark and creepy there’s a lot of tension built up, that the reader often has to read through the lines of what is not being said. The ending blew me away, it was so good and so smart. The characters of Uncle Julian, Constance, and Mary Katherine are written so well, the dialogue is really smart a couple of times a phrase will be said and we the reader won’t know the meaning behind it, then when it is repeated in context it’s really mind blowing. This book has some brash humor, that kept me laughing at how bold the characters are in speaking their mind. The fore telling of Mary Katherine not returning to the village works really good and keeps you curious. The omens have a huge pay off, that I didn’t see coming.

What I disliked: This novel does so good and making you question what you’re reading, at the climax, I kept trying to find meaning behind the words and what I was reading, second guessing what is real and what is fake, and it kept my mind wondering sometimes rereading passage to make sure I was interpreting it right.

I did think this was pretty cool that it is a first edition Paperback that I bought at my local thrift store.  The copyright date and the published date are both 1962.


Recommendation: I recommend this for horror lovers, this story could almost be young adult. I think it would be a good transition book for middle grade to young adult horror. It’s a great baby steps book to horror. This is a great classic read because it doesn’t feel that it was written fifty-six years ago. I also think this is the perfect book to reread, after finding out what happens in the end and what leads up to it. This was my classic of the month so far I have read the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Rebecca, and now this which is a perfect fall read as well. This was an easy 5 out of 5 stars for me.

After reading this Rebecca, I really like Gothic Horror, if you have any recommendations for any you think I should check out, would greatly appreciate it.

One thought on “Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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