Book Reviews: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“‘Merricat,’ said Constance, ‘would you like a cup of tea?’

‘No,’ said Merricat, ‘you’ll poison me.'”

I first discovered this book my junior year in high school, and I’ve been addicted to it ever since.

The book has been described as “a love song to agoraphobia,” and that seems just about right. Merricat and her older sister Constance live in their beautiful but mostly abandoned house in the woods. They used to live there with their family- parents, aunt, younger brother- but they all died a mysterious, painful death eight years earlier. The two sisters live a pleasant life, where Constance cooks and cares for their infirm Uncle Julian and Merricat protects them in her own way, but before long one small thing changes and it slowly destroys everything.

Merricat is one of my favorite characters ever. She’s twisted, she’s childish, she’s an unreliable narrator, and she makes for a fascinating read. She ambles through the story like she’s not a part of it, but she propels everything along. Apparently there’s a stage version of this book; I think Merricat is my dream role.

The mood of this book is spectacular- moody and airy, beautiful and frightening all at once. The characters are fascinating. The story is mysterious. I could read this book over and over again and never get bored. It steals my attention every time.

View all my reviews

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