We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - Shirley Jackson, Bernadette Dunne

 

I read this in 2012 and am still updating the GR conversion reviews. I hope to be done some day before I croak of old age.

 

I listened to this classic Shirley Jackson story in its unabridged audiobook format and the narrator did a terrific job bringing the story of Merricat and the remaining members of her family to life, her voice drips with atmosphere of the gothic drama. If you’re an audiobook fan and appreciate a dread-filled slightly creepy family drama I highly recommend checking this one out. I downloaded my copy from local library via Overdrive.

I don’t want to give too much away because this is one of those character driven, slow burning, suspenseful stories that slowly reveals itself and is one you should really experience for yourself without knowing too much about its plot. When the story opens a young lady named Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood is making her way through the village and you instantly know things are off-kilter. She is buying necessities for a sister who will not leave the house and is subjected to taunts, insults and/or fear from nearly all she encounters.

She lives a lonely existence with her agoraphobic sister Constance and their ailing Uncle Julian. Merricat spends her time burying things, following her own strict rules to keep safe and helping Constance keep their home spotless. The rest of their family is dead. I’m not telling you how or why it happened (actually I’m still unclear about the why but I think I have it figured out). They are perfectly content and set in their routines despite their seclusion but it all gets screwed up when a greedy male cousin arrives and stirs up no end of trouble for the little family teetering on the edge of sanity.

As little details are revealed through Merricat I really felt for her and understood her bouts of angry thoughts aimed at her neighbors, despite the fact that she seems to be quite happy to be the town outcast. She loves her kitty and her sister and they are all she seems to need in her world. The two however are keepers of dark secrets but I still felt for them to the very end.

Filled with darkness and dread this isn’t a horror novel but the writing haunted me. It was written way back in 1962 but feels timeless and I highly recommend it.