We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson is the second book I have read by her. I recently finished listening to the audiobook, and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.
Before I begin my review, I just wanted to say that I choose to read books that are my favorite genre (mystery) or I have seen others recommending it. However, this often leads to black authors being excluded. Starting from now, I will actively diversify the books I read and review to support black authors. Now for the review.
“I can’t help it when people are frightened,” says Merricat. “I always want to frighten them more.”
I first watched the movie We Have Always Lived in the Castle with my mother, and it was weird. From there I decided to listen to the audiobook through Libby because I wanted to know if the book and movie had the same plot. If you have read my The Haunting of Hill House Book Review, you will know that the book and series on Netflix have the same name, but the plots and characters are completely different, and I wanted to know if that was the case with We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Long story short, the plot of the movie and book are very similar. Both follow Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood who lives with her sister Constance and their uncle Julian after the Blackwood family experienced a tragedy that left them isolated from the rest of their village. The arrival of a cousin with ulterior motives threatens the world of the two sisters and their uncle.
I do not know where to start with this review because the book is weird just like the movie, but I guess I will start with Merricat. She is the main character and narrator of the book and movie, and she is the definition of weird. She goes on twice-weekly trips to the village for groceries and library books where she will often have macabre thoughts about the villagers. Constance never leaves the house and is constantly doing housework, hence the reason why Merricat is the one going on the trips to the village. Julian is eccentric, and he is obsessed with his notes on the Blackwood family. Out of these characters, I found that Julian along with Merricat’s cat Jonas the most likable because Merricat is too out there while I felt a disconnect with Constance. The other characters including their cousin and the villagers are generally unlikable. In the movie, the actors who played all the characters fit their book characters well. As far as the plot, it is slow and after finishing the book, it feels like not much actually happened and the ending was anticlimactic. I felt the same way when I watched the movie too. I could also predict the plot, which was a bit of a letdown. Normally when you read a book that has a film adaption, you learn more about the characters and the book often has scenes that are not in the film version. However, I felt like reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle did not add much to the plot that I knew from the movie, so if you have seen the movie, I do not feel like it is necessary to read the book. Regarding the setting, it is definitely not as creepy as Hill House. The creepiest part of the Blackwood mansion is the people inside. Also, Shirley Jackson is known for her psychological horror novels, but I would not consider this book a horror. As I briefly mentioned when discussing the setting, the scariest thing in the book is the characters, but even then they are just strange. I would consider this book a psychological fiction instead of a horror. I will end this review with the trailer of the film if you are interested in watching it.
Overall, I did not care much for We Have Always Lived in the Castle because the plot was slow and predictable and the characters are just weird.
$12.94 at Book Depository
Have you read or watched We Have Always Lived in a Castle?