That Shirley Jackson sure is an interesting character. Today I finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
As this isn’t my first Jackson story, I had that notion walking in… but she still astonishes me.
Jackson writes in a unique way, for certain. She takes her time in revealing secrets, allowing the narrator Mary Catherine to share what she ordinarily would in her own timid way.
As is customary with a Shirley Jackson story, the words are simple. The plot intense. Horror written around the corner. But in a fact-of-the-matter fashion. I guarantee you that We Have Always Lived in the Castle will take you, at most, a few days or sittings to finish.
The family at the centre of the plot are the Blackwoods and despite being the centre of the plot, they certainly are far from the centre of their small town. “Everyone in the village has always hated us,” Mary Catherine says. Very little of that statement seems to be in Mary’s head. Why? Because their household is notorious for being both mysterious and murderous.
I’ve rated We Have Always Lived in the Castle 3 out of 5 stars because the story is twisted, dangerous, and enjoyable, but I was, at points, frustrated with the pace. Further, the story concluded in a way I found unsatisfying – as if waiting for something that Jackson was in no mood to provide. And I say that as someone who absolutely adored (if anyone can absolutely adore) The Lottery.
I would recommend Jackson’s writing nonetheless. She has a voice to be drank quickly and cautiously, just as her characters would urge.
Rating: 3 of 5 stars