We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle Shirley Jackson

Rating: 4 Stars ★★★★☆

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.

Plot

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

Review

This is a great gothic story. We got two sisters living in isolation in a great manor outside the village. Their lives have been overshadowed by tragedy. Their whole family died from arsenic poisoning and while Constance was acquitted of the murder, the villagers still believe it was she who killed her family.

Merricat is the only one who leaves the house and braves the stares of the villagers. She is determined to keep her sister safe, To that end, she buries treasure around the house, firmly believing the magic will keep them safe. She’s not entirely sane either.

I would have liked to come into the grocery store some morning and see them all, even the Elberts and the children, lying there crying with the pain and dying. I would then help myself to groceries, I thought, stepping over their bodies, taking whatever I fancied from the shelves, and go home, with perhaps a kick for Mrs. Donell while she lay there.

But her magic spells fail her when cousin Charles arrives on the doorstep. Merricat does not like him. She is sure he wants to come between her and her sister. And he’s not a nice character either. All he’s interested in is the money the sisters have in the house.

“Where would poor Cousin Mary go if her sister turned her out?” Charles asked Jonas, who listened quietly. “What would poor Cousin Mary do if Constance and Charles didn’t love her?”

It is the beginning of a series of events that will end in another tragedy.

It was a really interesting story. I loved the gothic atmosphere, the feeling of impending doom. I also liked the mystery of the murders. Did Constance really poison her family? Because she seems so sweet, it is hard to believe.

I also liked the characters. The weird Merricat, sweet and slightly out-of-this-world Constance and crazy uncle Julian who barely survived the poison and has been obsessed by that night ever since.

Conclusion

Oppressive atmosphere, quirky characters, creepiness abounding – a great gothic mystery.

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