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The Haunting of Hill House

Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
Length: 7 hrs and 27 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5,105 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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    1,974
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    1,454
  • 3 Stars
    1,052
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    415
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Performance

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    189
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    108

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

72 of 79 people found this review 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.

68 of 76 people found this review helpful

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

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.

24 of 28 people found this review 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!

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Just okay

I really wanted to love this story but it just didn't keep my interest. Oh well.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Glad I have the old David Warner recording

Would you try another book from Shirley Jackson and/or Bernadette Dunne?

At eleven years of age, Shirley M. Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House was one of my favorite books. When I read Fahrenheit 451, Hill House was the book I imagined memorizing myself. I have almost everything she wrote in my home, and the ones I don't own I have read from the library. I bought We Have Always Lived in the Castle as soon as I saw it was finally available.

Sadly, I discovered later that I do not care for Bernadette Dunne as a reader for these two books. Let me be clear, Ms. Dunne is a lively reader with a good voice and fine delivery. I think what my problem with her is, she doesn't match the delivery of the reader in my head, and by that I mean that her tone feels "off" somehow. In my mind, these are two tragic Jackson tales. Ms. Dunne's voice is simply too cheery to be reading this material.

I think she would be terrific reading something comic such as a Thorne Smith novel.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eleanor Vance because she tries so hard to find some happiness.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance was fine, just not to my taste. I think it didn't fit my preconceptions and interpretation of the characters and events.

Do you think The Haunting of Hill House needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Good grief. I read a book where Shirley M. Jackson explained where she got the idea for Hill House. The biography had a picture of the actual house that the fictional mansion was patterned after. I know the disturbing real house was torn down. (That's the only thing you could do with Hill House.) But I don't know that anyone has written about the state of the site after the house was removed. It may not have helped to remove the building...

Honestly, I think essentially the follow-up would be Luke Sanderson in a high reach excavator with a full demolition crew. But it wouldn't make much of a book.

Any additional comments?

The book is a great ghost story, but I wish it was longer. I didn't want to leave.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

39 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Anticlimactic

I've heard so much about this book and how great it is. And let me tell you: great it is not. Dull mostly with very few exciting moments.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Praiseworthy for its era but cringeworthy today

The narrator, Bernadette Dunne, is an excellent performer. Her voice brought each character alive and honestly, it was her performance that compelled me to keep going to the end of the book. At the time it was written I'm sure it was groundbreaking and I respect that. It conveys such horror and dread so quietly, so subtly. Yet throughout the whole book I felt irritated. The main characters are so narcissistic, immature and even mentally ill, I found it painful to spend time with them, listening to their thoughts and conversations. I'm glad I listened to know why it's so well known but I'll never go back to Hill House.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Georgi_Lvs_Books
  • 10-27-18

The Haunting Of Hill House.

“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?”

I picked this up after seeing the tv series advertised on Netflix. I wanted to read/listen to the book first. Was currently reading this book, when I seen the audio book on offer!

It was an okay read, it was a little scary. A couple of parts did give me a little chill.

However, it didn’t really satisfy me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • 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.


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • 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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Good story

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 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 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 06-15-17

Aged Classic

Although certainly dated, The Haunting of Hill House is a thoroughly fantastic piece. Some sections of description - and this may simply be personal interpretation - display a certain lacking and muddled quality.
That aside however, the performance is an overall unexpectedly great one and the story itself is intriguing and drives the listener deeper.
Certainly I will listen to The Haunting of Hill House again in the future.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 02-21-19

Unfinished?

Felt there needed to be more of an ending, I feel it was left unfinished

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

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

Meh

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

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

Excellent!!

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