The wonderfully arresting first paragraph gripped me straight away. The novel is intensely controlled, perfectly, though sparely, written, and somehow - like its narrator - not quite sane. It draws the reader irresistibly into the world of a very unusual girl, and the rest of her damaged family. The narrating voice is utterly strange and memorable.
In her interesting afterword to the Penguin edition Joyce Carol Oates discusses the association between the central character, `Merricat', and witchcraft. I interpreted the narrator's intensely superstitious attitude, her obsessive use of `magic' tokens and rituals rather differently, as the reflection of an obsessive and compulsive personality who treats life like a board game where only she knows the rules.
There is much that is sly and unexpected in the novel. Despite the ghastly tragedy which lies behind the family, there is something celebratory about the way the life of this very strange household is depicted, its meals, its gracious surroundings. Normal people begin to seem like irritating intruders to us as well as to the characters.
Although I responded to `We Have Always Lived in the Castle' rather less emotionally than some of the other reviewers, I found it immensely powerful, and thought it was even better than `The Haunting of Hill House'.