We Have Always Lived in the Castle


Confession: I plucked Shirley Jackson's 1962 gothic novel from my elder daughter's room because it looked short and easy to read. A day later I was texting her: I'm reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle, it's creepy af, to which she replied I know!!

This is one of the most darkly disturbing novels I've ever read. Told from the point of view of Merricat Blackwood, living with her two surviving relatives in an isolated mansion, the tragic history of their family is gradually revealed, and the tension ratchets up as their precariously sheltered existence comes under threat, to end in a catastrophic climax and a weirdly happy ending. 

Merricat is brilliantly drawn and utterly chilling; in less than 150 pages we are completely drawn into her crooked world. I'm glad this novel was so short, I'm not sure I would have been able to bear to spend any longer inside her head, but We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a masterclass in character writing and a devastating story that will haunt you.

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