The Haunting of Hill House

Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (7,183 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Past the rusted gates and untrimmed hedges, Hill House broods and waits….

Four seekers have come to the ugly, abandoned old mansion: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomenon called haunting; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a lonely, homeless girl well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the adventurous future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable noises and self-closing doors, but Hill House is gathering its powers and will soon choose one of them to make its own.

Shirley Jackson (1916–1965), a celebrated writer of horror, wrote such classic novels as We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Bird’s Nest, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, “The Lottery”. She has influenced such writers as Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, and Richard Matheson.

©1959 Shirley Jackson; renewed 1987 by Laurence Hyman, Barry Hyman, Sarah Webster, and Joanne Schnurer (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Makes your blood chill and your scalp prickle…Shirley Jackson is the master of the haunted tale.” ( New York Times Book Review)
“Now widely regarded as the greatest haunted-house story ever written.” ( Wall Street Journal)
“Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders.” (Dorothy Parker, Esquire)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Well written horror tale

I chose to listen to this book in order to pass the time while organizing and cleaning the kitchen. I remembered Ms. Jackson's stirring short story, "The Lottery" and hoped this would be just as intriguing. I used the book as an incentive to get done a job I did not want to do and it was treat was to listen to this book as I went about my task. This book has been on my list for a while, after learning that Ms. Jackson wrote in this genre. I don't read many supernatural thrillers but this one was a good one that wasn't too "freaky" that would leave me with nightmares. I would think that it sits solidly in the genre along with Henry James' Turn of the Screw and as well as Stephen King's The Shining. It some ways it reminded me of both. I'm sure that it was on the cutting edge, written in the 1950's when everything was to be happy and pleasant. I appreciated the solid description that helped build the scene in my mind without being overly descriptive and flowery. Her characterization is solid but not overwhelmingly vivid, except maybe for the Doctor's wife. She was maybe a bit too vivid. This "ghost" story sits adequately between the old and the new in the genre. I was adequately entertain without my intelligence being insulted. I look forward to reading other pieces from Ms. Jackson.

97 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb Reading of Horror Classic

Dunne's performance of Jackson's novel is just about perfect. Her husky, flexible voice provides a consistent sense of character and tone. I have a book on writing horror fiction. The editors ran a poll of top horror/fantasy writers as to "best of" and Jackson's Haunting of Hill House came in first. It is on Stephen King's list of "ten best." It is a wonderfully-written novel that gets inside your head. As one reads this, one sees how huge an influence it was upon King, as several elements play powerfully into Carrie, Rose Red, and other works.

79 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Perhaps the best haunted house tale of all time.

Where does The Haunting of Hill House rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of my favorites.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Well, hard to say, Elie, who you see much of the story through is going mad, so is not all times very likable, I think the Dr. who put together the experiment is interesting, the sexy woman psychic is fun, the idle rich boy is not very deep...perhaps the house itself is the strangest character.

Have you listened to any of Bernadette Dunne’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

She has a great voice with depth and texture, wonderful for a ghost story, a crime drama, or a tale of terror.

If you could rename The Haunting of Hill House, what would you call it?

That's a hard one. "The Haunting of Hill House" is a classic title which sounds so right. It chills with it's mere words. Perhaps a second book could be called "The Hunger of Hill House"?

Any additional comments?

This is one of the all time great "Haunted House" stories. It set the bench mark for most every haunted house that has come after. If you love the horror genre, you MUST listen to this book. It's a classic.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Well written story that captures the imagination.

The book is written well and in detail, the narrator really portray's the characters very well giving each their own uniqueness, this makes it quite easy to imagine yourself in the book, which is what makes it so enjoyable!

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Getting this book because of the show? Don't.

This book is a really good read. Very detailed scenes make you feel like you're there with Elenore and Theo. However if you, like me, purchased this book because of the show adaptation, it is very different.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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Not a very compelling story at all. =/

So after having finished the Haunting of Hill House I can safely say, for me personally, it was a snooze fest. Just boring scenario after boring scenario of verbal jousting and no real ghosts or scary things happening. An example of good Horror or sci-fi books that are my cup of tea would be Stephen King's It, or The Shining even, which in my opinion is just like THoHH, but much more gripping and intriguing. Dean Koontz Twilight Eyes. but this book, nah, was likely more of an older crowds cup of tea. Bring on the gore and violence for me! But the voice actor was clear and concise throughout, but even she did not much to nothing to add to the tale, mostly a drab word for word lecture rather than a story telling. I wasn't impressed, and this was on a top horror books of all time list. Needless to say, I won't be referencing that list again. O.o

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Best narrator I've listened to to date

Would you listen to The Haunting of Hill House again? Why?

I wouldn't, only because I've never been the type to read/listen to a book twice. It's nothing negative about the book itself.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Haunting of Hill House?

The ending....although I won't say anything more to spoil it

Which character – as performed by Bernadette Dunne – was your favorite?

I enjoyed her performance for all the characters. She did an amazing job distinguishing them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Absolutly. I was highly disappointed when I would arrive at my destinantion and have to turn off the book.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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A Disappointment

I really wanted to like this story. I enjoy a good ghost story that is more on the psychologically spooky side (as opposed to the slasher, gory side), and thought this would fit the bill nicely. But the handling of the characters consistently got in the way of the atmosphere. The problems:

• None of the subjects participating in this expedition to the haunted house seemed to be serious about actually trying to discover its secrets. They moved in, experienced the strange phenomena, but afterwards never even discussed among themselves what had happened or even seemed terribly surprised or concerned. We were told they wrote copious notes, but they never seemed to go anywhere.

• The too-clever, ironic conversations felt contrived and out of place. Perhaps the wry humor was meant to be a sort of whistling-in-the-dark, but it didn't work for me.

• The crazy bangings and door slammings, voices and wall writings are all sensory events that are difficult to convey in writing with the impact they deserve. Perhaps the impact would have been heightened if the characters themselves had seemed to be more viscerally affected. But they all just got over it a few minutes later, looked for the brandy and made more jokes. I have seen the 1963 film version, and found it satisfyingly spooky, largely because the actors were able to convince me that they were scared themselves.

• I found Dr. Montague’s wife to be one of the single most irritating characters I have ever read. Worse, her nearly comical militant spiritualist crusade further weakened Dr. Montague’s already weak character, undermining any pretense of scientific authority he held.

I wish I could recommend this classic, but for me it did not live up to its billing.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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We have grown to trust blindly in our senses...

We have grown to trust blindly in our senses of balance and reason, and I can see where the mind might fight wildly to preserve its own familiar stable patters against all evidence that it was leaning sideways.
- Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of House Hill

I wanted to read something literary, but scary. Also, it would be nice if it wasn't super long. I'm not a big horror reader and have been purchasing (collecting?) Penguin's Deluxe Classics for a while, so I bought a couple of Shirley Jackson's novels the first week in October.

This book is basically a ghost story (or perhaps a haunted house story). I jumped in it and couldn't put it down. Like most newish readers to Shirley Jackson, I am NOT new to Shirley Jackson. Almost everyone since its June 26, 1948 publication date has read Jackson's short story "The Lottery." You may think you haven't but if you are reading my reviews, I'd bet money you have. It is a staple in American Lit Anthologies. It is amazing. If you haven't read it, click on the title above.

Anyway, I loved the setting, the pacing, the tension, and the writing. She reminds me a bit of Patricia Highsmith in her sharp edges and brutal clarity. She reminds you of the horrors that exist in your family and your villiage. She floats in that space between the unreal and the mundane. Jackson bruises you with a story that is just tilted a bit outside of normal. She creeps you out because her fantastic writing, seduces you, and gets so damn close.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Boring

The book takes a long time to get to get nowhere. The book is not at spooky or scary. It is well narrated though

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen
  • 01-09-11

Stunning

I knew nothing about this book other than it has a high-standing reputation. I wanted a 'ghost story' for Christmas. I listened to it lying in bed with no distractions and, boy, did I get my money's worth. The atmosphere and descriptions are powerful enough, but it is the psychological portrait of, and interaction between the characters which takes this book far beyond 'genre' into a 'classic'. Unsettling and scary because it insinuates itself into you, rather than frightening with shocks. And though her voice may be an acquired taste I thought that Bernadette Dunn's reading is extraordinary.

20 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Beccameriel
  • 10-31-13

Unsettling and spooky story excellently performed

I like to listen to something spooky at Halloween and have wanted to read this for a while. What I like about this story is the fact that so much is left up to the reader to decide. The narrator is so obviously unreliable that it's never clear if we can trust a thing she says. Who has seen what? Is everyone in the house experiencing the same thing? Hill House itself has a strong presence as a character and even the dimensions and angles of the rooms seem to be inherently evil. I was reminded a bit of H.P. Lovecraft's non-Euclidean geometry in Dreams of the Witch House (one for the fans there).

If you've seen the truly dreadful film with Liam Neeson and Catherine Zeta-Jones, please rest assured that it bears almost no relation to this source material.

Bernadette Dunne is a great narrator who manages to portray the apparent malice of the house and really seems to get inside Eleanor's head.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Adele
  • 11-06-12

You are invited...

Take a tour of Hill House, and experience the chilling, bizarre events it encloses!

Eleanor’s invitation to Hill House by Dr.Montague is one she most likely wouldn’t have accepted, had she been aware of its looming consequences, but longing for new adventure, and “borrowing” her sister’s car, she finds her way there. At the house, despite a gloomy welcome, she eventually starts to feel safe, and quickly makes new friends in the other guests. But all is not what it seems, and soon she is entwined in a web of otherworldly encounters. Despite looking terror in the eye, Eleanor seems eventually to overcome her fears inside Hill House…or does she?

I enjoyed how the story went from a classic ghost story to a deeper, darker, and more surreal twist of events. The narration to me seemed a little contrived in parts, but otherwise I thought it flowed well.

Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel is a perfect listen for a perfect, moody night, and will make you stay awake if you need to!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • R O N UMUNNA
  • 01-01-19

Fantastic novel and fantastic narration

I had always known about the Haunting of Hill House however, it was its namesake show on Netflix brought me here. Stephen King was right-it is brilliant! I love the chilling reliance on terror as opposed to horror. The narration by Bernadette Dunne is simply fantastic. She captures the essence of each character so well.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Maxwell Justus Mitchell
  • 09-29-18

The Granddaddy of Haunted House Novels

Don't be put off by some of the negative reviews here, this is worth reading. The plot is subtle and psychologically complex. People who have been desensitised to horror by modern horror movies will likely find it boring. But if you are a patient reader, the book will repay your efforts and then some - this is a novel worth ticking off the bucket list.

I found the narrator slightly nasally, but nothing too bad.


2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Toni
  • 11-02-18

An atmosphere that sticks to you

Story - 4.5 Stars

So I had planned to consume this before watching the Netflix adaption but I ended up watching the series first and my fiance and I binged that over 3 sittings (and that was us trying to spread it out and make it last). Anyway after watching it I just had to experience the book.

Apart from Mrs Montague really annoying the heck out of me and it genuinely making me feel sorry for Mr Montague and question why he hadn't filed for divorce yet I loved it and devoured it in a single sitting!

While it was a fairly slow start for a short book I felt that helped build atmosphere and develop characters and while it wasn't particularly scary there was something about the atmosphere that Shirley created that I loved that was aided by really good narration.

I found it had a very subtle but sneaky ingraining sense of foreboding and claustrophobia with a side serving of sanity-doubting confusion that left me feeling as if I've just walked through a spider's web and am now unsure as to whether it is still dangling precariously from the wall or whether it has in fact attached itself to me.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kate Prince
  • 10-01-18

Subtly chilling, an incredible work

The Haunting of Hill House is not for those wanting gore or outright blood curling horror, but is for those wanting an incredible story told through chilling descriptions and the type of subtle character development that only Shirley Jackson can provide. A true masterpiece of the genre that will resonate with readers long after the last page.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane Severson
  • 03-11-18

A must-read Classic

I’m not a big lover of horror or supernatural phenomena, but this book being the one that so much of our haunted house culture is based upon and I felt it was time to fill that gap.

It was very well read by Bernadette Dunne, her characterizations were subtle, yet distinct.

I felt like it came to an end much too quickly. I would’ve liked more details of the MC’s decline and then more of what happened afterwards. But much is left to our imaginations, which is always more unsettling.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • madgedeepers
  • 02-08-18

Good story

The ghost story is very good but the audio is rather muffled, but it is worth persevering.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Elaine
  • 01-07-16

Wanted to read after seeing stage show

Enjoyed this novel, bit different from the stage show I saw at Liverpool Playhouse but still good. Absorbing psychological horror.. Just don't listen to close to bedtime as I'm convinced my dreams were more vivid and anxiety laden as a result!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-21-19

An enjoyable book

I enjoyed this book and if you have watched the tv show you will enjoy how they took the bones of the book and created an interesting take on the characters.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sharon
  • 05-18-20

The Haunting of Hill House

It was an interesting storyline. But I liked the movie better. Which is odd for me. I usually like the details and having to use my imagination when reading.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-20-20

ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE NARRATOR AND STORY

This would have to be by far, the worst audible book I have ever had the unfortunate pleasure or reading.
From the start this book is terrible, but for some stupid reason I persisted with it hoping it would get better. WRONG.

The audible for starters has many glitches where it will just stop mid sentence go blank for 10-20 seconds and pick up on a completely different conversation or scene, leaving you confused and trying to work out what's happening.

The narrator is absolutely terrible, I think she should have retired 90years ago. She is by far the worst part of the book. It probably could have been partially bearable if it had a narrator suited to the story. I kept thinking I was listening to Blanche from the Golden Girls reading a children's story. Her male voices were laughable one male character sounded like Scrappy from Scooby Doo while the other I can't even describe how terrible his voice was. She completely ruined the book from the second she opened her mouth.

I painstakingly held on till the end hoping for something good to finally happen, but even that was terrible. It was a completely stupid ending and a complete waste of time.

This is 7hrs of my life I will never get back and hopefully can soon forget. Do yourself a favour and don't waste your time on this terrible audible book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 11-11-19

loved this so much

I loved it from beginning to end! characters, story line, the pace was at 1.5 for me.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-25-19

Not scary in the way you want

Not scary, contains way too much unexplained behaviour. Weird/bad. The protagonist is incredibly annoying. If you're waiting for it to get better, it doesn't. Scary bad.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-29-18

Chilling

I'm not usually a big horror fan but this book had me captivated beginning to end. Jackson's picturesque descriptions with Dunne's expressive narration was incredible. The book owes a lot of its power to the fantastic characters. A classic.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Katie
  • 11-28-18

Meh

I am not a fan. Was not interesting or exciting, and not even remotely scary.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-18

Excellent!!

Loved the subtle creation of uncertainty throughout the story. The great narration makes for a visceral experience.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • JD
  • 06-28-17

Scary?

Was told this was the pinnacle of horror stories. Given its age I can forgive some influence of nostalgia from other reviewers, but not every, nor entertaining. The reader was SUPERB.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Vicki
  • 06-26-19

I dunno man

what. this this says I need 15 words but I really only have one. What.

1 person found this helpful