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)
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 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.
I am a 67 yo disabled Vet who lives in N. Texas. I was a medic in the Army during the Viet Nam war, got an MS in ecology and just retired.
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.
Old, tired member of the sandwich generation. Waiting to just get to heaven!!
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.
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