As a fall chill begins to creep into the air, and the listicles begin to specialize in couple's costumes, there comes a time when you just want to curl up with a mug of tea and a book of horror stories. And, when it comes to horror, one author reigns supreme (other than Stephen King, I mean). Shirley Jackson is the queen of horror, suspense, and deliciously creepy plot twists. Her books and short stories will crawl inside your brain and make sure that you never get a good night's sleep ever again. So if you're looking to start your Halloween countdown off right, here are some truly chilling quotes from Shirley Jackson, the original master of horror.
If you're new to Jackson, you're going to want to start off with her most famous story, The Lottery. Then you're going to want to transition to The Haunting of Hill House, for her take on the classic haunted house tale. And then, of course, you'll need to finish off your crash course with We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a horrifying little book guaranteed to give you a permanent sense of unease and claustrophobia for the rest of your adult life.
Need any more convincing that Shirley is the horror author for you? Here are just a few snippets from her eeriest pieces of writing:
1. No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.
2. My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.
3. Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones.
4. I shall eat the room in one mouthful, chewing ruthlessly on the boards and the small sweet bones.
5. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it has stood for eighty years and might stand eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
6. On the moon we wore feathers in our hair, and rubies on our hands. On the moon we had gold spoons.
7. Outside were the eucalyptus trees, like lace against the sky. If it were only possible to lie against them, light and bodiless, sink into their softness, deeper and deeper, lost in them, buried, never come back again....
8. Most people have never seen a ghost, and never want or expect to, but almost everyone will admit that sometimes they have a sneaking feeling that they just possibly could meet a ghost if they weren't careful―if they were to turn a corner too suddenly, perhaps, or open their eyes too soon when they wake up at night, or go into a dark room without hesitating first.
9. It isn't fair, it isn't right," Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.
10. “I can't help it when people are frightened," says Merricat. "I always want to frighten them more.”
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