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)
Dunne's performance of this dark, insinuating book is excellent. The voice of the first-person narrator really gets inside of your head and it is hard to shake her when you take off the head phones. The book explores a lot of Jackson's obsessions, her belief in the reality of magic and witchcraft, and seems built upon her later-in-life fear of people outside her small circle and related agoraphobia.
I first read this book as a kid and at the time identified with the teenage Mary Katherine, without questioning her as an "unreliable narrator." When I got the audiobook all these years later, I thought it would be fun to revisit a story I had liked. I was surprised at how Bernadette Dunne voiced the narrator character. She has a kind of tremor of fear in her voice right from the start. This isn't the quirky imaginative heroine who faces down the hateful townfolk and her encroaching cousin that I remember: this is a phobic young woman who tries to use to ritual to try to control her world, who is disturbed and disturbing!
After listening to this recording, I found myself questioning my earlier interpretation of the whole story. Though Mary Katherine calls her cousin Charles a ghost, this one isn't a ghost story. Though Mary Katherine believes in magic, and tries to create magic protection for herself, this one isn't a supernatural story. Still, the further the story goes, the further it is from reality. The ending is what I remembered, but I don't remember finding it so strange and unbelievable. This is a good thing, to me. There is so much more to think about and wonder about after hearing the recording.
Freelance journalist, now living in Israel. Audible books listener for 30 years, when I had to pretend to be blind to get access.
This is really a classic -- not only the fine Shirley Jackson book, but the narration turns it into a work of art, creepy and intense. Even if you've read the story, this is a new experience. It gave me a new appreciation for Shirley Jackson, too, although this is one of those books where the audio version is really preferable to the printed version. If you like classic horror, don't miss this one.
Not really, its a story that takes a long time to get to its point. You have to really enjoy listening to stories and have a dedicated imagination to stick with this story.
Her voice helps draw you into a story that would otherwise be painful to follow
Yes to compare to my own vision
This is an American masterpiece, a classic that has been grossly overlooked in classes across the nation. Shirley Jackson created fiercely real character who will engage, entice and disgust you. Written in the 1960s is is scary how little things have changed. So many classrooms could benefit from this wonderful short novel.
I must have missed it. Good performance, but I got more frustrated with the story as it went along. I enjoyed the writing style, especially a few particular scene narratives, but I was left with a "why did I do that? feeling". Not scary, just kind of weird.
I love books.
Chilling. Superb. Wow.
I love this story and Bernadette's reading was fabulous!
No. I wanted it to last as long as possible.
Very much enjoyed it and I would recommend it to everyone--and I have. :)
Audible Obsessed wishes she had more time for so many audiobooks.
At first I read the ratings and I thought this could be an interesting book to listen to, but I was mistaken.
This is not a ghost story as I thought It would be.
It is supposed to be a mistery involving the murder of the Blackwood family, but only two sisters and their sick uncle are the ones to survive the tragedy. Mostly everyone in the village is mean to them, they have few friends and the relative they have is a golddigger who turns their life around in an awful way.
I found it to be VERY disturbing from start to finish. I also though it was a little predictable. You find out who the murderer was, but then, there is just content, but no justice, no straightening up.
It was a good story, not great.
Bernadette Dunne, however, does a wonderful job with the voices and emotions of the characters. KUDOS for her! 5 well deserved stars.
I would not read it again, but it certainly is a good book for psychology students.
I just never got the plot or what was going on. It may have been over my head.
The build-up of the story is great, but the end is rather disappointing. I was waiting for a twist in the tale, which never came, and it ended rather abruptly.
Having said that - I was glued to my iPod throughout the story. Bernadette Dunne's narration is wonderful. She does not allow your attention to wander. She has different voices for all the characters and she doesn't lose them. Even the men sound like men.
Well, worth a credit.
Report Inappropriate Content