We Have Always Lived in the Castle
I read this as my "book you can finish in a day" for the 2016 Reading Challenge. As expected, it's not exactly scary, but Jackson is sure good at infusing a story with a creepy atmosphere. In this work, her last completed novel before her death, she tells the story of the Blackwood family. Not so long ago there were seven Blackwoods, but four of them dropped dead from arsenic poisoning several years ago and how that happened remains a mystery. Read this during daylight hours: its themes of family secrets, hateful neighbors, and mysterious deaths aren't the stuff of bedtime reading.
Author Shirley Jackson has thrilled fans of horror and intrigue for decades with her superbly crafted stories and has even inspired such authors as Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a classic tale of gothic horror sure to delight fans everywhere and has been optioned for film.
Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.
Six years after four family members died of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods–elder, agoraphobic sister Constance, wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian, and eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat–live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives–cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune–and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret.