Saturday, May 8, 2010

Book Review - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle    
Author: Shriley Jackson  
Year: 1962  
Page: 160  
Genre: Fiction - Horror 

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Not sure
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US?
FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library (thanks to inter-library loan!)

Summary (from
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

First Sentence:  
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.

Why did I pick this book?
After I read Liar by Justine Larbalestier, other people asked on the author's website if there are similar books. Since I thought Liar has such potential (and spoiled by the ending, in my opinion), I thought I'd give this book a try as others have said this is a similar type of book. The author has also said she loved this book.

My thoughts:
  • I think my expectation was way to high and I was very disappointed by this book! I can see why the readers said this is a similar type of book as Liar (I don't want to explain as it'd spoil it), but it is just not my cup of tea. Many reviews said this is creepy, horrifying, scary, disturbing, haunting, strange... I thought it was boring and could guess the twist 1/3 way of the book (and it's a pretty thin book!) I wasn't scared or creep out or disturbed or haunted at all (unlike after watching IT the TV movie in 8th grade... I almost didn't want to turn on the faucet to wash my hands!)
  • As I was reading the story (would have given it up had I not wanted to find out what was so great about this book), I kept thinking, how old is Mary Katherine the protagonist? It was very hard to guess her age by her voice/behavior. When I read some amazon reviews, some reviewers mentioned she was 18 and I was wondering how they came up with that age. When I looked back at the first page of the book to write out what the first sentence was - the 2nd sentence said, "I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance." Duh! But really, I'd already forgotten about that fact as I read the book...
  • I still don't get why this book is so popular... have you read it? Could you share your thoughts please?? I didn't even find a quote I liked in the book...
  • The only thing I like about it is this - the protagonist, Mary Katherine, is called Merricat, by her sister. I thought that was cute. 

    Rating:    1 Star

    Have you read this book? 
    If you have, I would love to hear what you think! I'll link your review here if you wish!
    100+ Reading 


    1. I really, really loved this one and I feel bad that you didn't! :( I loved the creepy atmosphere and the fact that I never did understand what was really going on with Merricat until the very end. I just thought it was written so well, and kept me guessing throughout. Sorry it didn't work for you!

    2. @heather - I think I may have read too may murder/mystery book and was able to figure out the mystery early! Which ruined the surprise I guess... Plus I read A LOT more contemporary fiction than older books, so probably not quite used to the older writing style either...