A Haunting on the Hill
by Elizabeth Hand
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 01 Dec 2023
From award-winning author Elizabeth Hand comes the first-ever novel authorized to return to the world of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House—a "scary and beautifully written" (Neil Gaiman) new story of isolation and longing perfect for our present time.
Open the door . . . .
Holly Sherwin has been a struggling playwright for years, but now, after receiving a grant to develop her play Witching Night, she may finally be close to her big break. All she needs is time and space to bring her vision to life. When she stumbles across Hill House on a weekend getaway upstate, she is immediately taken in by the mansion, nearly hidden outside a remote village. It’s enormous, old, and ever-so eerie—the perfect place to develop and rehearse her play.
Despite her own hesitations, Holly’s girlfriend, Nisa, agrees to join Holly in renting the house for a month, and soon a troupe of actors, each with ghosts of their own, arrive. Yet as they settle in, the house’s peculiarities are made known: strange creatures stalk the grounds, disturbing sounds echo throughout the halls, and time itself seems to shift. All too soon, Holly and her friends find themselves at odds not just with one another, but with the house itself. It seems something has been waiting in Hill House all these years, and it no longer intends to walk alone . . .
"A fitting—and frightening—homage." —New York Times Book Review
"It’s thrilling to find this is a true hybrid of these two ingenious women’s work—a novel with all the chills of Jackson that also highlights the contemporary flavor and evocative writing of Hand." —Washington Post
"Only the brilliant Elizabeth Hand could so expertly honor Jackson's rage, wit, and vision." —Paul Tremblay
"Eerily beautiful, strangely seductive, and genuinely upsetting." —Alix E. Harrow
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 158 members
I have a complicated relationship with Shirley Jackson's 'The Haunting of Hill House.' Its atmosphere of dread is brilliant, and Jackson's writing put me right there, in that terrible, grasping, hungry house with those unbalanced, unreliable characters. I should love it, but I hold it at arm's length. It's so bleak, so unrelentingly grim. I always wish there was more fun, more gleefulness in the horror.
Elizabeth Hand has written the version of Hill House I've wished for. Her novel is unsettling and tingly — and a stunningly good ride. I had so much fun reading this story while also furtively glancing over my shoulder and keeping the lights on. It strikes the ideal blend of terror and entertainment.
Her cast of actors is pleasingly dramatic, a pitch-perfect cocktail of narcissism, insecurity, and artistry. I rooted for them, even as I rolled my eyes at their diva-esque behavior. Hand carefully calibrated their unraveling so their 'normal' versions and Hill House versions seem to co-exist, gradually toggling between the two until they (and we, delightfully) are unsure which version is in charge.
The descriptions of the hauntings are fantastical and make sense; I could see, feel, and hear just what the characters were experiencing — and it was deliciously awful.
And really, isn't that what you want from a haunted house story? A deliciously awful, can't-look-away, please-make-it-stop, oh-no-the-book-is-over-already experience?
I'll be featuring this book in the October 6 episode of my podcast 'The Library of Lost Time.' (https://strongsenseofplace.com/library)
Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for the advance review copy.