I don’t think I’ve ever read any Shirley Jackson before and right now that feels like I’ve shamefully missed out, as ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ is truly brilliant.
It’s deeply unsettling fairy tale of a story, which even though it’s simply told – or perhaps because it is so simply told – kept me constantly on edge. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot – as I knew virtually nothing of the plot in advance and I think that greatly benefitted my reading of it – but it’s a story of murder and fear and childhood and innocence lost, of maybe innocence never had. It’s a story of such cruelty, yet one that’s offset by moments of gaiety that are sweet and affecting. Yet those moments of lightness just – in a strange way – make the book even creepier.
I suppose the one thing it isn’t is a story of hope, it’s far too cynical for that. So maybe if it were any longer it could become wearying, but for me this is a sharply observed, disturbing piece of fiction which more than deserves its reputation.
Fancy some free dark fiction from yours truly? My short story collection ‘Something Went Wrong & Other Strange Tales’ is available now.