I was in the mood to read a horror book, but didn’t quite feel like picking up a classic Stephen King novel (mainly due to the sheer length. Don’t get me wrong – I don’ t mind hefty books – my mood just didn’t call for it). Surprisingly, I couldn’t see any of Susan Hill’s books on the shelves. Anyways, long story short, after browsing the library’s many shelves, I decided to settle with this.
A whole range of different characters had been presented – a shy and oppressed young lady, an open minded doctor who searches for answers that science alone cannot provide, a young man with a dubious nature and an outspoken, flamboyant lady. It was intriguing to see and understand their interactions given that their personalities were so diverse.
Although in theory the characters varied, they weren’t properly developed and defined; they didn’t seem real in a way. There was no character development and quite frankly, at times they seemed strange – something didn’t quite match up.
This may have been because the book was from Eleanor’s perspective. So essentially, it was her interpretation of how things were said and what meaning the words held. Having said that, Eleanor’s own character didn’t make much sense either. One moment she felt intense bitterness towards Theodora and in the next, she was asking her to take her home. How does someone go from such an intense emotion to (almost) fondness in a snap? One could argue that perhaps this was due to the house’s influence and her own fears coming in to play. But somehow, it still doesn’t quite add up.
The plot (if it can be called that) moved at a sluggish pace, with nothing really happening until right towards the end. The wrapping up of the ‘adventure’ was rather abrupt in nature. It also felt like the adventure was more talked about rather than experienced. (It’s actually questionable whether there even was an adventure.) In short, there seemed to be no adventure nor plot as such, which was extremely disappointing, and in a way pointless.
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”
For some unknown reason, there was a lot of emphasis on the phrase ‘journeys end in lover’s meeting.’ The obsession Eleanor had with this was never explained nor explored. It was just aimlessly repeated at various intervals, whenever the mood struck her. This felt random and after a while got irritating.
The book focused on fear primarily; how fear warps us to become our own worst nightmare. It was an interesting premise to focus on, but unfortunately it wasn’t explored in enough depth. The whole concept reminded me a lot of Doctor Who (‘Midnight’). However, it just wasn’t properly executed. Maybe it was too subtle – the effect of fear should have been more defined.
Fear,” the doctor said, “is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway.”
A lot of things were left rather ambiguous. What was the banging? Why was there a particular cold spot in the doorway of the nursery? This was cleverly done as it not only left it to the reader’s interpretation but also left an air of mystery surrounding Hill House. This added to the eerie atmosphere, so skillfully created throughout the book. The descriptions and the actual physical construction of the house had been brilliantly crafted.
In conclusion, it was just a confusing read and there seemed to be a severe lack of plot. There should have been more depth and the idea of fear could have been shown in a more pronounced manner. It was a disappointing read. Despite this, the atmosphere was on point and it had been well written.
P.S. Past, Present and Future walk in to a bar. It was tense. 😀