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We Have Always Lived in the Castle | [Shirley Jackson]

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (768 )
5 star
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3.8 (656 )
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4.2 (655 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ally Napanee, ON, Canada 03-25-12
    Ally Napanee, ON, Canada 03-25-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    10
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    "Loved it!"

    The narrator is totally creepy, and the story is like the Addams Family for grownups. I absolutely loved it. I mean, the "mystery" part is not so much a mystery. I won't spoil it for anyone, but I figured it out relatively quickly, but there was something in the narrative that sort of makes me think you're supposed to. The mystery isn't really the point.

    I love this book, and can see myself listening to it over and over.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Okay, OK, United States 10-18-11
    Amazon Customer Okay, OK, United States 10-18-11 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    Story
    "Dark Gothic Horror"

    If you enjoy dark stories of slowly creeping madness, give this one a listen. I couldn't turn it off.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 07-13-11
    Pamela 07-13-11

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Shirley Jackson can still Spook you"

    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

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Hickory Creek, TX United States 05-25-15
    Daniel Hickory Creek, TX United States 05-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Weird"

    This story is weird, strange, "Twilight Zone" like. It's so off beat that it's difficult to describe. The narrator is excellent and saves the book completely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wookie's mom 04-22-15 Member Since 2012

    Old, tired member of the sandwich generation. Waiting to just get to heaven!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "NOT MY GENRE"

    My daughter recommended I listen to this book. I was rather disappointed as I just couldn't get into the story. I made it through four chapters and then gave up the chase. It just didn't do a thing for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 04-19-15
    M. J. Christensen Tucson, AZ. 04-19-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    Story
    "An Unsettling Story"

    A good psychological horror story of two sisters living in isolation and fear. The plot slowly unfolds as we find out the circumstances of their lives. There is an aura of impending doom that hangs over the narrative as we listen and untangle this back story. The novel is narrated by Mary Katherine who is paranoid and lives in a fantasy world where she thinks magic can protect her and her sister Constance. This book leaves the listener with a spine-chilling reaction.

    Bernadette Dunn's reading is perfect - her voice has an undertone of fear and barely surpressed panic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 03-31-15
    Andrew 03-31-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    81
    29
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    "Classic Shirley Jackson!"

    I love Shirley Jackson's writing and this was no exception. It's not very scary but there is a definite sense of tension in many of the scenes which is one of Jackson's strong suits. She does an excellent job of giving the reader (or listener in this case) a feeling of unease.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharjen Wisconsin 03-30-15
    Sharjen Wisconsin 03-30-15 Member Since 2013
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    2
    2
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    Story
    "Wonderful treat for the mind's eye"

    I re-read this book every couple of years, it's that special. This is my first audio listen of the story and I was so impressed by Bernadette Dunn, the reader. Excellent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer MARSHFIELD, MA, United States 03-16-15
    Amazon Customer MARSHFIELD, MA, United States 03-16-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    46
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    55
    55
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    7
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    Story
    "Couldn't put it down - But not sure why?"

    I needed a few days to write a review of this book. Frankly, I really liked it, but I am not entirely sure why. It is creepy, fun and sort of mysterious. I never wanted to stop reading and I was invested in Mary Cat and Constance's lives.

    This is weird because I was actually disappointed overall with how the story played out. SPOILER!**[ I totally predicted who did the poisoning - Too easy! I was really expecting someone to have been a ghost or supernatural being - Nope! I wanted the sisters to have some sort of worldly experience or to grow and change in some way - No way! They were simply happy being shut-ins and starring in the local boogeyman stories. END SPOILER**]. Oh well.

    So, I had to give 4 stars because, despite my ultimate disappointments listed in the spoiler, I couldn't put the book down!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    pamela Germinaro 03-10-15 Member Since 2014
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    2
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    "A great read transformed into a great listen"

    The performance was on the spot and gives life to the eccentric Blackwood family. Merricat comes to life with all her complexities intact.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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