Selena | Beauty's Library
The Haunting of Hill House Review
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Some houses are just evil from the start...
It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Going into this I had seen the Netflix show inspired by it. I initially assumed it was based on the book, but after reading this, it’s definitely more of an inspiration. Which honestly is a bit of a letdown. This book was nothing that I was expecting.
From the start, this book talks about how unsettling Hill House is. Saying things about how some houses are just evil from the start. It sets up the book to have such an intense haunting experience. Yet when the characters are finally settled down into the house, the creepy experiences just don’t appear that creepy. Nothing about this book truly seemed scary or unsettling. It was a little disappointing.
It sets up the book to have such an intense haunting experience. Yet when the characters are finally settled down into the house, the creepy experiences just don’t appear that creepy.
Which the lack of scary is mostly due to the fact that this book came out back in 1959. Though that’s not nearly as old as my previous book, The Turn of the Screw, 1959 is still pretty old. But I had still hoped for a little more creepy than I got.
Plus, from the way the show was set up, I was expecting this book to be about a family who moves into Hill House ~ which by the way I didn't actually read the summary of this book. But this was definitely not the case, the book follows a doctor who wants to prove the house is haunted. But doesn’t want to do it alone, in order to prove others were able to experience the hauntings as well. So the doctor invites several others to be his assistants, all of which have experienced some sort of paranormal experience in their life, only two of them end up showing up at the house. And in agreement for the doctor to do his experiment, the owners said one of the family members must be present, so they have their nephew and the heir to the house stay with them. The four of them take residence in the house for a little over a week. It’s not until the second night does anything paranormal occur to the characters.
Though some of the hauntings that happen in the book sound familiar to the show, the majority of the book’s events are wildly different and it’s not until the end of the book where one scene is almost identical to the show. Throughout the book, we tend to focus on one of the characters more than the others, Elenor, or Nellie. We see the house has a deeper effect on Nellie than the others, especially singling her out in some cases. This feels similar to the show. However, I was disappointed in the ending of the book. It was different from the show and we’re left unsure of Nell’s fate. We’re able to speculate but we aren’t told for sure what happens to her.
Though some of the hauntings that happen in the book sound familiar to the show, the majority of the book’s events are wildly different and it’s not until the end of the book where one scene is almost identical to the show.
Now I’m not saying that the book and show should have been exact, but the ending that occurred in the show was definitely more impactful than the book, in my opinion. This similar scene between the book and the show, the show definitely had a better ending. The book had a close build in terms of suspense to the show, but it fell completely flat compared to the show. After that scene, the rest of the book just went downhill.
I also just couldn’t help but feel for Nellie. She came from a family who didn’t love or care for her. She made a friend or who she thought was her friend. But then that friend turns around and insults her. Same as the other characters. It was just sad. I wished the other characters were a bit nicer towards Nellie.
Speaking of who was nice… The doctor’s wife was a piece of work. My god!! She reminded me of my own aunt. Nothing ever pleased the wife. She found something to complain about everything. When she finally arrived at the house, she insulted the other ladies basically calling them useless. She was so demeaning. Even though she was very unlikable, it helped that she was there, it helped move the story along.
The flow of this book while adequate was a little on the slow side. The entire first half of the book was basically just setting up the story. We didn’t see any horrors until after the halfway point of the book. And as I mentioned the horrors weren’t that scary or unsettling.
We didn’t see any horrors until after the halfway point of the book. And as I mentioned the horrors weren’t that scary or unsettling.
Overall, this book was a bit of a letdown. However, it wasn’t terrible. I was just expecting a bit more. The show was definitely more unnerving and under the skin creepy. The book was nowhere near being on the same level of creepy. Though, it was interesting to read and to see the inspiration behind the Netflix show. I definitely recommend this if you enjoyed the show. This could also be good as an entry to horror if you want to try it, it’s definitely light on the horror scale.