We Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson
completed October 2012
We Have Always Lived in the Castle has been my favorite RIP read so far this year. Katherine "Merricat" Blackwood lives in the family home with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. The Blackwood family lives in the outskirts of the village in which they have been ostracized.
I'm anti-spoiler. I've said before that I prefer to go into books blind so I'm glad I didn't read the back cover. It gives away the reason for the village's disdain for the family, but there's something to be said for discovering the facts of the story as the author intended. I loved how the facts of the past, and the shadow overhanging the family were slowly unfolded. The slow and controlled pace to which the reader is informed added to the eeriness of the story.
In choosing the first-person narration by Merricat, there is an added creepiness that couldn't come any other way. Her mind is a fascinating place to visit. Despite being 18 years old, she comes across as a little child at times. It's also apparent from the start that there is something very wrong within the family dynamic. Even though I guessed the truth that was uncovered at the end, it was still chilling to read.
I've seen it described as a horror story, but for me it wasn't so much terrifying as subtly creepy. I have zero complaints with this book. I read it in one sitting (stuck in bed with the flu), and I was riveted. It's a short book, but the writing was pitch perfect for a truly spine-chilling experience. Shirley Jackson can write.
I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It received the elusive 5-star rating from me, and I guarantee it will be in my top books of the year. It sits at the number one spot currently, but no promises as I still have a couple of months of reading.
Have you read We Have Always Lived in the Castle? If so, what did you think? If not, get on it already!