On reading: We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson

We have always lived in the castleTitle: We have always lived in the castle

Author: Shirley Jackson

From the back: Living in the Blackwood family home with only her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian for company, Merricat just wants to preserve their delicate way of life. But ever since Constance was acquitted of murdering the rest of the family, the world isn’t leaving the Blackwoods alone. And when Cousin Charles arrives, armed with overtures of friendship and a desperate need to get into the safe, Merricat must do everything in her power to protect the remaining family.

The gist: Somehow I’d never read any Shirley Jackson before this year. I’m not sure how that’s happened. And my literary world is now a richer place, having ripped through both We have always lived in the castle and The haunting of hill house in a matter of days. It’s been a while since I’ve read much in the way of traditional ghost stories or horror, and Jackson is pure classic. She creates scenes disturbing yet subtle, the sort of writing that stays with you long after flipping passed the final pages. It’s horror of the mind. Horror that might start out calmly but escalates into something quietly nightmare inducing. And it’s not always about the obvious horrors, but the ones you don’t see coming. I won’t say too much to spoil either of these books here, but I’m just gonna say that they’re up on my best reads of the year list and if you fancy some smart, beautifully written spookiness then you wouldn’t be going wrong with these.

Favourite line: “You will be wondering about that sugar bowl, I imagine, is it still in use? You are wondering, has it been cleaned? You may very well ask, was it thoroughly washed?”

Read if: You want a masterclass in quietly disturbing horror.

Read with: A blanket and a Christmas dinner belly.

Get it: We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson