Book Review: We Have Always Lived in Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived In The Castle – Book Review – Fused

Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Author: Shirley Jackson

Author: Literary Fiction/Classics

Number of Pages: 146

Rating: A-

Recommended?: Yes

It took me a while to get into this book but when I did I thought it was really a fantastic read. I like books and films with a Gothic motif and weird and off-kilter characters so this was definitely up my alley. Merricat Blackwood is a vindictive woman-child who lives in isolation with her older sister Constance and her disabled Uncle Julien. Most of the family is dead due to an unfortunate poisoning incident and the townspeople terrorize Merricat when she leaves her secluded property.

Merricat is quite a fascinating character, and I found myself feeling sorry for her at times even though she didn’t have a single redeeming quality to speak of. She’s a highly peculiar social outcast with obsessive hobbies and rituals; one of the things that struck me throughout the story was how important inanimate objects are to her. Human beings mean less to her than the trinkets she fills her insular existence with.

Merricat and Constance’s manipulative cousin Charles comes to their vast estate with his sights set on their fortune, and Merricat becomes possessive of her sister and tries to drive Charles out. The results are dark, creepy, and satisfying in their carefully laid-out irony. This is a very quick read and not difficult at all to read, once I got past Jonathan Lethem’s introduction (which was a huge pretentious bore.) I highly recommend this novel and I’m looking forward to reading The Haunting of Hill House in the near future.

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