The air has just recently gotten a bite of chill to it, particularly in the early mornings and late evenings. I’ve been sleeping with the windows cracked and, when I wake up in the morning, I’m curled up tight under the covers, hiding from the cold. Fall is officially here.
This was the perfect time of year to pick up We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Jackson is probably best known for her short story, The Lottery, something I read in high school that pops into my head on and off even now, so many years later. I’ve read The Haunting of Hill House, as well, but somehow had never stumbled upon this book until now. I’m so glad I did.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a sparse, unsettling book, opening with seemingly ordinary circumstances but doling out bits of creep along the way. I don’t want to say too much for fear of robbing anyone of the joy of unwrapping this weird little story, but it focuses on two sisters, Mary Katherine (or Merricat) and her older sister, Constance. They live in an old manor in a small village, and are part of a very prominent family. The only other residents of the house are an Uncle Julian and a cat named Jonas. Once there were more of them. That’s all I’m going to say.
There aren’t many books that I would say are perfectly written, but between the skill of Jackson’s writing and the absolute perfection with which the story unfolds, I’d say this is one of them. I just finished it yesterday and I know I’ll be thinking about it for days or, if The Lottery is any indication, maybe even for years to come.
Also, if you were going to judge a book by its cover, this would be a good one to do it with because SO CREEPY I LOVE IT.