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October 21, 2009 / schulerbooks

Where all my hype psych-thrillers at?

hauntingofhillhouse

I’ve been ripping through ghost stories the past couple of weeks, including the unsettling but engrossing debut novel The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom. (I’d really like someone else to read this and give me their opinion – I had trouble with disliking the main character, but it definitely had creeeepy moments.) It was worth checking out, but the problem is few modern-day tales of hauntings live up to the classic psychological supernatural thrillers like The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Maybe it’s simply that the clipped pace of modern life has left most people unable to invest the time in a psychological slow-burner, leaving us more attuned to the slam-bang-splatter cheap thrills of crappy horror films.

Well, Ms. Jackson writes in that measured, creepy cryptic style that creates a seeping terror, but it’s a layered fear. We fear the unknown without us, but we fear the unknown within us even more. Jackson’s novel walks the fine line of uncertainty: Need we fear what may be out there, or is the real horror within our own minds?

–Whitney

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