5 Books Like 'The Haunting Of Hill House' If Spooky Buildings Are Your Thing
I challenge you to find a friend, relative, or distant colleague who hasn't powered through the entirety of Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House. If, like me (and literally every other human you have ever met and will ever come to meet), you finished the series in four days, you might turn to the series' inspiration: the 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson. But what if you've finished that too, and your days are bereft of the terror you've quickly become accustomed to? Fret not, and pick up one of these five books like The Haunting of Hill House.
As perhaps the most devoted of Shirley Jackson fans (challenge me! I dare you!), I approached the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House with some trepidation. Why re-adapt a classic, when the 1963 adaptation The Haunting pretty much nailed it? Worse, why take the name and setting of a Jackson novel only to disregard the plot, characters, and every other detail that makes it great? Naturally, I was proven completely and emphatically wrong by the show, the topic of 85% of my conversations since.
So here's my sincerest wish for the aftermath of the series: that more readers will turn to Shirley Jackson, an unjustly overlooked genius, and to the often-dismissed horror genre as a whole. Readers, I beg you: read everything Jackson ever wrote! Read every book on this list, then read everything else their authors ever wrote/continue to write!
1. The Sundial by Shirley Jackson
Jackson's haunted houses didn't originate with Hill House: before Hugh Crain's cursed creation, there was Halloran House. The Sundial tells of a warring family who come to believe the end of days is approaching, thanks to multiple otherworldly visitations, and only those within the house will be saved. A small collective gathers in preparation, fighting and spending lavishly in the run-up to the apocalypse. But is the world really about to end, and if so, will the unpleasant residents of Halloran House really inherit whatever comes next?
2. The Good House by Tananarive Due
Angela Toussaint left the Good House, her late grandmother's former home, when her teenage son shot himself in the building two years ago — an action that not only devastated but baffled his mother. Looking for answers about his death, Angela finally returns, unearthing a vodou curse and a lingering malicious spirit in her family's history (significantly, Due refutes the stereotypical depiction of vodou as a demonic or evil practice.) Similarly to Shirley Jackson, Due uses the supernatural to convey real-world ills: racism, family trauma, alienation, greed.
3. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
You know the story, you've watched at least one adaptation, and you've probably encountered at least one argument about whether the ghosts are real. But if you've never actually got round to reading The Turn of the Screw — even if you think you know every last spoiler — the disquieting novella is more than deserving of your time. The story: a governess is hired to tutor young Miles and Flora in a country house, but begins to see figures that may or may not belong to the land of the living. Are the presences — and the horrifying events that follow — the creation of the troubled governess? Or does something bleak linger around the children and the house?
4. The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike
One blessing of the classic haunted house tale: few of us actually occupy the stately, forbidding manors so beloved of evil spirits and the like. But The Graveyard Apartment offers no such reassuring distance from reality, taking place in an apartment building that'll seem awfully familiar to your own. Koike's novel, which celebrated its 30th birthday in 2016, follows the Kano family as they move into a suspiciously cheap, luxurious building: which just so happens to overlook a historic graveyard. One by one, the other residents flee the increasingly hostile building, until only the Kanos remain.
5. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
Waters examines Britain's rigid class structures through the lens of a haunted house in The Little Stranger. After the Second World War, the once grand Hundreds Hall and the upper-class Ayres family who occupy it are fading from their former grandeur. Dr. Faraday, a doctor from a poor family who's suspended between social classes, is called to treat a young maid, and quickly befriends the Ayres. But the family perceive a malign presence in the crumbling house, to Dr. Faraday's stubborn — and ultimately destructive — disbelief.