I started reading Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle last night. Not sure why it's taken me so long to get around to it, but it has. A friend of mine recently gave me the push I needed to get started on it and so that's how I spent my evening yesterday.
Shirley Jackson is most well known for her short story, "The Lottery," which even I've read and remember fondly from middle school days, and The Haunting of Hill House, which is still sitting on my TBR shelf. A few other collections are available, but of her six novels, only two are available these days. Here's hoping for some reprints 'cause I'd really like to get my hands on these hard to find items.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is something of a dense read for it's slim, 173 pages: I'm only about a third of the way through so far if that's any indication. It's definitely book that demands, and commands, the reader's full attention and concentration. And develops in an eerie way that's utterly delicious.
And I love the cover art on my copy. The newest edition has a nice black and white cover with a creepy line drawing, but it's nowhere near as fantastic as mine. This Popular Library edition belonged to my mom. So yeah, I've had ample opportunity to pick it up before now. Don't you love it, though?
I was reading last night and pondering how fantastic this cover is and how strange the story is, and all of a sudden was struck by the smell. It's that musty old book smell. Not a bad one at all, especially not for a book nerd like me, but one that brings back fond reading memories. Mostly memories of overnight trips at my grandmother's house. She's a reader like I am and I can remember nights spent in my mom's old childhood room at the end of the hall, curled up with a book for the night. They're nice memories. Even the ones when I freaked myself out.
I used to insist that my bed be placed as far from the window as possible and I couldn't be facing the window when I slept. Weird, I know. I still do it. And those nights reading into the wee hours with all the lights in the house gone dark, grandfather clock ticking away in the hallway, it was very easy to let my imagination go flying into places that made dark corners mysterious and terrifying.
It still happens for me occasionally. And I love every spine-tingling moment! That's what I look for in a great read and why I gravitate towards the more suspenseful genres: that moment when you think anything is possible and you don't want to move because even the boogeyman could be out there waiting to get to you. It was always reassuring to know that my grandmother was just down the hall, or my parents were just downstairs, or Mike is just in the next room. My days living alone, well, lets just say there were some nights when leaves skittering across my porch were enough to keep me up until the sun began to rise. Not often, but occasionally, lights were left on to help.
Anyway, my sharing moment. I've been in this gothic kick since reading Cherie Priest's fabulous Boneshaker (Steampunk), which led to my reading her first Eden Moore book, which left me at a loss until the next two arrive. So Shirley Jackson was an obvious choice now.
I won't go into what the book is about. As some other reviewers have said, you can't aptly describe it without giving away the whole plot. I can tell that just by where I am at this point in the story. Plus, if you jump in without knowing, this is one book who's journey is made all the better by it.