The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

the haunting of hill house

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a twentieth century horror novel, considered one of the best of the century. The story sees four strangers, Dr.Montague, Eleanor, Theodora and Luke, make a visit to Hill House. Hill House is an eight-year-old mansion built by the long-gone Hugh Crain. The strangers are brought to Hill House by Dr.Montague who hopes to find evidence that the paranormal exists.

This is a novel that I was required to read for my university course, and surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is not often I read a book that I am told I must read and find that I really enjoy it. Just like many gothic novels this novel keeps the reader guessing throughout its entirety. The characters experience numerous events, and the reader is left questioning whether the events are really happening. This is because alongside the paranormal events, Jackson creates characters who are far more in depth than the stereotypical characters in horror movies. i.e hot, college students having a sleepover; you know the ones! Eleanor, for example, the reader learns to be a very vulnerable woman suffering from guilt over her mother’s death. And Theodora is very much the opposite, she is an eccentric artist who we learn has had psychic experiences. Therefore, Jackson’s characters are very subjective to what is going on in the novel, so they cannot necessarily be relied upon

Though I believe this novel to be brilliant, I was a little bit disappointed with the ending. I thought the ending of the story was very abrupt. I even had to go back over the last couple of pages when I had finished, as I did not process what had happened. This was not because I could not believe it, but more because I just did not understand what had happened. I felt it was not as explicit as it should have been. Jackson does however carry on after the final event for one last paragraph. I feel this small paragraph is an attempt to close the novel seamlessly, however for me, it just did not work.

Out of all the novels I have read, The Haunting of Hill House has quickly become one of my favourite horror novels. Therefore, I would one hundred percent recommend this novel to anybody who is into horror novels. However, I would also recommend this novel to somebody who is not necessarily a fan of the horror genre. This is because there is so much more going on, aside from the apparent poltergeist. It is an adventure to be discovered!

side note: The novel has also been adapted into two films, both titled simply ‘The Haunting’. One from the 1960’s and the other from the 1990’s which stars Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson. 

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Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

billy and me

Billy and Me, Giovanna Fletcher’s debut novel, is quite simply a romance novel. It focuses upon a small town / village girl Sophie May and Billy, a famous actor. The basis for the story line is pretty much ‘can these two total opposites successfully be together in a committed relationship?’ Alongside this though, the reader is teased with a secret that Sophie May is anxious to divulge to her love interest, Billy.

I enjoyed this novel, but only to an extent. I liked the concept behind the story, the idea of exploring whether two opposites can really be happy together. I liked the exploration of family bonds and relationships that Fletcher uses alongside the main story line. I liked the contrasting worlds that Fletcher presented between Sophie May’s life and Billy’s life. And I liked the first half of the novel – maybe a little less than that though. Harsh? Maybe. But I just could not stomach the character of Sophie May. At the beginning of the novel I was optimistic for her character but as time went on I just felt this huge dislike for her build and build. Now, if this dislike in the main character had been built on purpose, I may have been able to accept it. However, I do not believe that this was Fletcher’s intentions. To me, it appears Fletcher was desperately trying to make the reader feel sympathy for Sophie May and her situation, but I feel the intense effort in trying to accomplish this let the character down.

A big part of the story line in Billy and Me is the secret that Sophie May holds from Billy. This is built up for some of the novel, however Sophie May soon divulges said secret to the reader (Billy still being unaware). Although this story telling technique is often very effective, I felt this to heighten my dislike for Sophie May. This is because I was aware of her secret and why she was panicking at times, however I just could not justify her responses and worry over the said event. Maybe I’ve read too many crime and thriller novels, but I wanted the secret to be far more gripping, and a little less underwhelming.

I tend to pick up romance novels as a break from the intense reads that I am required to read on my university course. I find the romance genre to be full of easy reads, something I can just relax with, both mentally and physically. So, I did not pick up Billy and Me thinking it would be a world changing piece of work, I was simply hoping for an ‘easy read’. However, due to my complete dislike for the main character I found this novel to be far from an ‘easy read’. I was constantly rolling my eyes at the character’s actions and thoughts, and crying for the women everywhere, because of the way the novel portrays us.

Billy and Me is therefore a novel that I would struggle to recommend to a friend. However, if you are somebody who does not get too irked by characters in books maybe you’ll have some luck with this novel. Although I have been disappointed with the novel i would love to hear what you think about Fletcher’s story and characters. Maybe you’ll help to open my eyes and heart to Fletcher’s creation…maybe.

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Such a Cliché

everybody’s journey is different, and everything happens for a reason.

I am coming up to the final couple of months of my university experience so understandably I am feeling a little bit reflective. I cannot help but look back over my three years of university and acknowledge both, what I have and have not achieved during my time here.

I started my university experience in 2014, moving from a relatively quiet rural town in Shropshire to the lively city of Liverpool. It was a big step, but one I am whole heartedly glad I took. Liverpool John Moore’s was not necessarily my first choice when I began looking at universities, in fact it was probably the last university I considered. However, from my first visit to the city I loved it. And I am glad to say that adoration for the city has continued throughout my time here.

When I think back to how I have spent the last couple of years though, I cannot help but feel a little bit of regret that I did not take advantage of the location more. I spent most my first year drunk, or hungover, and wrapped up in the freedom of doing next to nothing after the stress of A Levels, that I failed to immerse myself in what Liverpool had to offer – And my second year was hardly any different. Though, I did begin to explore the city further than my usual attendance to Concert Square three times a week, but in hindsight I do not feel I explored enough.

I feel that since September, in my final year, I have really come into my own though. Through putting drinking and nights out on the back burner I have discovered a whole new side to myself and to university life. I have immersed myself in my studies far more this year than I ever did in the previous two years. I have visited attractions and explored more of what the city has to offer – it definitely helps that I brought my car with me this year! I have also began thinking about my future, and where my life is going, something that I have heavily avoided for most of my life. As a result of all of this I managed to secure myself an internship, running the social media accounts and writing blogs for a small interior design company.

Even though when I think about my time at university I do hold some regrets over how I managed my time, I cannot help but feel pleased with the journey I have been on. After all, the clichés are always right: everybody’s journey is different, and everything happens for a reason.

Until next time…

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