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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

on 26 February 2002
Shirley Jackson was unknown to me until I watched a late night book review TV programme. The author's collection 'The Lottery' was highly regarded by all four guests and hence my search for 'The Lottery' began.
The first 'passage' of the book, the short stories, left me very much wanting more and the 'short' tales are an excellent introduction to her writing skills. Things got better and better and, undoubtedly, 'We Have Always Lived In The Castle' is an outstanding highlight.
'Life Among The Savages' is now on order and I'm sure I won't be disappointed.
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on 7 March 2001
This is an excellent collection. The collection of short stories, The Lottery, are as unsettling as they are excellent. The Haunting of Hill House is exceptionally chilling and We Have Always Lived in the Castle beautifully written. Read it!!!!
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on 4 October 2009
Collected together in one volume are a selection of short stories and two novels by this neglected American writer, praised by writers as diverse as Donna Tartt and Stephen King. Her writing is delicately poised on the edge of horror, but rarely spills over. Many of her short stories, for instance, hover between the slightly grotesque and the socially acute with an unvoiced and subtle commentary on the cruelties people practice upon one another when their social status comes under threat. Some are slight and others - especially the chilling The Lottery - are anything but. This story caused an outrage when it was first published in The New Yorker which received more letters from readers about it than any other story in the magazine's history.

The two novellas collected in this volume are quite different from one another. One is a tale of a haunted house where a motely collection of people gather to spend a few days getting to the bottom of reports of strange happenings. The other is an intense, claustrophic and terrifying story in which a fatal poisoning case is unravelled, against the background of the atavistic hatred of a whole community for two sisters and their quietly mad and ancient uncle. The whole collection is well-worth reading but especially the novella We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which is both captivating and disturbing.
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on 26 October 1999
If all you know of Shirley Jackson is the appallingly bad Jan deBont film of 'The Haunting' then you should read this book.
'The Lottery' is one of the most outrageous short stories you will ever read, and 'The Haunting of Hill House' is one of the best supernatural novels ever written.
Both of these pale in comparison to her masterwork 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle'. You will never read a more touching, revealing, but genuinely odd novel from the point of view of an outsider than this (although Katherine Dunn's 'Geek Love' comes a close second). I recommend it unreservedly.
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on 3 December 1999
Wonderful writer. Wonderful book. But she did not write "The Turn of the Screw."
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on 10 December 1999
Shirley Jackson is a good writer; her writing is not pretentious, nor does it resort to "tricks" to hook the readers. She also does not resort to blood and gore for any terror or horror effects. These points are clearly highlighted in the third story in this book, We Have Always Lived Here in The Castle. This third story is disturbing and leaves you uneasy for quite some time after you have finished reading it. This third story itself is worth buying this book.
However, I found the collection of short stories, The Lottery, a little disappointing. Some of the stories end too abruptly. They are actually well-written and very interesting but by the time you get into the story, the story ends! So, this leaves you unsatisfied as if you missed several last pages. I suppose her short stories are an acquired taste, but I only liked only about 1/3 of the short stories.
The second story, The Haunting of Hill House, was also disappointing because I felt it was more of a short story padded into a long story. If it was a short story, the book would have been so much better. The characters were also unrealistic. They were often terrified by nightly hauntings, and yet when morning comes, they act as if the previous night hauntings were just a bothersome leaking roof! And the ending was a cop-out.
Nevertheless, buy this book because for a price of a book, you get 3 books. The last story is definitely worth getting the entire book.
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