When you think about classic horror novels, Shirley Jackson‘s The Haunting of Hill House is definitely on many horror enthusiasts lists. The book, originally published in 1959, has been adapted into several movie and TV versions over the years. And now, finally, there is a sequel, A Haunting on the Hill, the first authorized novel that returns to the unsettling and mysterious world of Hill House.
A Haunting on the Hill follows the story of Holly Sherwin, a struggling playwright who stumbles upon Hill House while on a weekend getaway upstate, looking for a place to develop and rehearse her play.
Holly is immediately taken in by the ornate, if crumbling, gothic mansion, nearly hidden outside a remote village. She convinces her girlfriend, Nisa, to join her in renting the house out for a month, and soon a group of actors, each with their own ghosts, arrive. However, the house’s peculiarities start to become apparent: strange creatures stalk the grounds, disturbing sounds echo throughout the halls, and time itself seems to shift. As the group settle in, they find themselves at odds not just with each other, but with the house itself. Something evil has been waiting in Hill House all these years, and it will no longer walk alone.
Elizabeth Hand has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of Shirley Jackson’s writing style. The novel is packed with suspense and terror that slowly builds throughout the story and leads to a truly horrifying conclusion. The book’s pacing is remarkable, and the way the story is told creates an intense and immersive reading experience. Hand’s writing adds an excellent layer to the lore created by Shirley Jackson, making it feel like a new chapter in the world of Hill House.
One of the novel’s significant achievements is its portrayal of the characters. Each character is unique and well-rounded, with their own distinct backstory and motivations. Throughout the book, we see the characters struggle with their own personal demons while being tormented by the house’s entities. This adds an extra layer of fear and suspense that makes the events of the book all the more disturbing.
The haunted house trope has been used countless times in the horror genre, yet somehow Elizabeth Hand has managed to bring something new to the table. Her approach to the haunted house story subverts expectations and keeps the reader engaged. The way she describes the house itself is almost like it’s a character, with a personality and motivations of its own. This portrayal of the house adds an extra layer of horror, making the book feel like a dread-filled journey into the unknown.
A Haunting on the Hill is a must-read for fans of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and for anyone who loves a good horror story. Elizabeth Hand has created a suspenseful, frightening story that captures the essence of Shirley Jackson’s writing style while adding a new layer to the lore she created. The way Hand describes the characters and the house itself adds an extra layer of terror to an already scary story. The pacing of the story is perfect, with the ending being a satisfying conclusion to the events that came before it. A Haunting on the Hill is a fantastic addition to the world of Hill House!
This review is a Feature Review during the Capes and Tights Horror Week 2023.
About A Haunting on the Hill’s Elizabeth Hand
A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North London.