Friday, October 22, 2010

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson. 1962. Penguin. 214 pages. 

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Our narrator, Merricat--Mary Katherine Blackwood--tells her story in the first person. It's a strange story--to be sure--about two sisters who are still haunted in many ways by their tragic past.

Merricat--the sister "brave" enough to leave the house--hates to go to town. She does it because she must. Because groceries and library books are essential to life. Constance never goes outside the gates of the family estate--though she loves to be outside in her garden.

Most of We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a flashback. It shows how things went from bad to worse after the arrival of their cousin Charles. I'll say no more. I think it's better not to know what this one is "about" before beginning.

Did I like it? Well enough to keep reading! I read this one for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon. And it was a great choice. It was a quick read. In part because it's so short, but also because it's suspenseful, compelling.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 comments:

Kristi Bernard 8:39 AM  

This sounds kind of spooky and intriguing. I will have to add it to my list of must reads. Thanks for sharing and I hope you will stop by Kristi's Book Nook and check out the reviews.

Josette 11:19 PM  

I love the cover! And the story's pretty compelling...will look it up.

Jessica 11:50 AM  

I quite liked this one, I loved the childlike narration and the weridness of it.

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
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  • fantasy
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I am not a fan of:

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  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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