Six years after four family members died of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods—elder, agoraphobic sister Constance; wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian; and 18-year-old Mary Katherine, or, Merricat—live together in pleasant isolation. Merricat has developed an idiosyncratic system of rules and protective magic to guard the estate against intrusions from hostile villagers. But one day a stranger arrives—cousin Charles, with his eye on the Blackwood fortune—and manages to penetrate into their carefully shielded lives. Unable to drive him away by either polite or occult means, Merricat adopts more desperate methods, resulting in crisis, tragedy, and the revelation of a terrible secret.
©1962 Shirley Jackson (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“At certain moments, quietly, in quick, subtle transitions of tone, Miss Jackson can summon up stark terror, make your blood chill and your scalp prickle....To all the classic paraphernalia of the spook story, she adds a touch of Freud….” (New York Times Book Review)
If you enjoy dark stories of slowly creeping madness, give this one a listen. I couldn't turn it off.
I am an amateur ethno- botanist, an Apple evangelist and an avid consumer of audio books. Audio- books have given more choices of what to have in my head while I am doing mindless tasks. Audible has become more important now than when I first joined since I have limited shelf space in our new apartment.
I read this book many years ago along with "The Haunting of Hill House". Shirley Jackson had a genius for the inner monologue of her main characters. This form of listening to the story makes it impossible for us not to want to interject a little more wisdom into that shallow gene pool of a town.
You know what is bound to happen but you must listen pulled along by the story's intense rhythm and the narrator's voice. Like a picnic in a grave yard, this small piece of classic horror, makes you aware that it is not the dead we have to fear.
I can't wait to share this one with my daughter, who shares my love of all sorts of plants and fungi. Especially those that can kill.LOL
Why ever would I do that?
I found this book creepy - but I don't really know what was going on. Two stars instead of one b/c maybe I just wasn't smart enough to figure it out. Put it down. Money down the drain ...
I've read books since and can't put my finger on it, but I do remember I didn't care for the narrator.
Obsessive reader and listener; it's a sick thing!
I'm new to Jackson's work, but this is an instant favorite. it had all the urgency and magical quality that begs sympathy with the narrator, even as you come to realize the truth. Chilling in all the right ways.
My only complaint with Dunne's reading is her silly men's voices, but it doesn't take away from the overall effect.
Yes, I would. The story is engaging yet disturbing. The folie à deux of the two sisters is terrifying.
The moment that sticks with me most is the when the sisters are hiding after the house fire and Merricat confesses to Constance. There's something soul-crushing about the matter-of-fact way it is presented. One wonders when the madness began.
I have not but I certainly would again. She does an excellent job.
I wanted to but was unable to. I'm glad I didn't though. Gave more time to digest it.
I'm a monkey!
I love Shirley Jackson but this story is fairly predictable and lacks real tension.
The reader does a great job it's just the story doesn't really take off.
Or remnants of a family. To be clear, while the narrator, Merricat, lives in a world of ghosts and magic, this is not a story about the supernatural. She is seriously mentally ill. Her older sister, Constance, who is agoraphobic, runs the home, caring for Merricat and the infirm and somewhat demented Uncle Julian.
The rest of the immediate family died from arsenic poisoning six years before the story takes place. While Constance was probably always a fearful person, those fears were aggravated because she was tried for the murders of her family members. She was acquitted, but many of the town folk still think she put the arsenic in the food and killed the family.
This is a small story that is well crafted. There is little action; it is mostly about Merricat's perceptions and related actions, and the interaction among family members. The story stayed with me. I didn't find it creepy, but it's sad. I picked it up in a sale and it was a good selection.
I thought the plot was dull and underdeveloped. I figured out the "mystery" of it in about 2 seconds which made the whole rest of this book just limp on.
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