This is one of the oddest, most haunting books I have ever read. Merricat Blackwood and her sister Constance live with their aged Uncle Julian in a mansion on the outskirts of a small New England town. The villagers keep their distance from the Blackwood family, ever since the day, five or six years earlier, when almost the entire Blackwood family was poisoned at lunch and died. Merricat, Constance and Uncle Julian are the only survivors of that day and are regarded with suspicion and hatred by the village. Constance is terrified to leave the house. Uncle Julian is sinking into forgetfulness. Merricat brings in supplies and protects her home with a complex set of charms and rituals.
When a long-lost cousin turns up one day, he sets into motion an uncovering of the truth of what happened to the Blackwood family, and a terrible retribution on the part of the villagers.
Telling the facts of the story, however, doesn't do justice to the beauty of the writing, and to the character of Merricat Blackwood, who is unforgettable. I, unfortunately, had read a review that spoiled a couple of key details for me before I read the book, so I won't reveal any more about the story. If you enjoy creepy, off-beat stories, this is a terrific one, and a quick read.
I really enjoyed this hauntingly strange book. The characters were strong, and their arrested development after the incident six years prior tot he book's opening was quite fascinating. Though not terribly unpredictable, it was thoroughly intriguing and well-written. The rather Gothic atmosphere was well-maintained from the very first to the very last page. Though brief (under 220 pages), this was powerful and riveting. I had read Jackson's short story, "The Lottery," in high school, and after finishing this, I am even more curious about her other works.
This is one of those "gotcha" books that hook you until the end. When I read a book like this I always say "if only I had a million bucks to produce this movie!" Shirley Jackson, thanks for a never-to-be-forgotten story!
Shirley Jackson always leaves you feeling haunted. This is a story about the Blackwoods who have been accused and acquitted of the murder of their family by arsenic. They live in this huge house, trying to stay away from the villagers until cousin Charles appears - trouble. Shirley Jackson's books are always understated, but always leave me up at night wondering and thinking. They're just so eerie.
This book is sweet and scary at the same time.