Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirely Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the CastleWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's hard to discuss this book without giving much away. I knew nothing of the plot when I began this read. I read solely by suggestion of Neil Gaiman, who I trust completely with my reading choices.

The narrator is 18 year old Mary Kathrine Blackwood (nicknamed Merricat), she lives with her sister Constance (age 28) and her ailing Uncle Julian, and of course her constant companion a cat named Jonas. As Merricat says, "Everyone else in my family is dead."

The tale begins with Merricat making a trip to the small village which her family's home borders. The villagers hate the Blackwood family. They pester young Merricat, very aggressively. It is not explicitly said, but I believe that the hate from the villagers occurred prior to the death of the majority of the Blackwood clan.

Merricat and Constance have very few visitors. One visitor being Helen Clarke, who Merricat is not quite pleased to see. It is during one of Helen's visit that we learn how the remainder of the Blackwood family died. They were poisoned during a family dinner. Arsenic in the sugar. Constance was arrested and later found not guilty of their deaths; however, the village obviously does not believe her to be innocent.

Merricat and Constance are happy together, until their cousin Charles shows up and the story truly begins.

Merricat is an amazing character. Though 18, she reads as though she were a 12 or 13 year old, her relatives treat her this way. At first she just seems stunted, then as the story progresses she seems truly mad. Actually, I saw a great number of similarities between Merricat and Mor from Jo Walton's Among Others.

I would recommend this book to ... folks that enjoy a bit of a dark, haunting tale. Maybe folks that enjoy Richard Matheson.

My favorite quote (spoiler alert) ... "Yes, the way I did before." WOW!

Would I read this book again ... YES! And I will read more of Shirley Jackson.

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