We Have Always Lived In The Castle – Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived In The Castle – Shirley Jackson

A perfect spooky read this October! From the author of the famous short story “The Lottery”, comes a complicated novel with similar tones of murder, mob mentality and public shunning. This book seems to defy a specific genre. We Have Always Lived in the Castle included multiple elements, making it seem a historic-classic-murder-mystery-horror-fairytale. The story follows the two Blackwell sisters; Mary Catherine Blackwell (18 years old) and Constance Blackwell (28 years old). These young women live with their dying uncle in the big old house where their parents were killed via poison six years previously. They have been ostracized by their community and so live in relative seclusion. Mary Catherine leaves the house only to bring home groceries and library books. As the book continues, their peaceful, secluded lifestyle is threatened by a visit from their money seeking cousin. Mary Catherine feels this cousin to be dangerous and sets out to foil his plans and send him away from her “Castle”.

I’m on the fence about this book. It is rather unique. The ending really left me wondering, I couldn’t decide whether it was happy, or depressing (but, I lean towards depressing). In addition to creating a strange kind of ending, Shirley Jackson also does interesting things with her narrator. Mary Catherine becomes less and less trustworthy as a narrator as the story progresses. Half way through the book I was unsure if magic was being introduced to the narrative, or if Mary was crazy. By the end, readers a left with a narrator and protagonist, that they have liked and rooted for, who is obviously untrustworthy and even dangerous.


We Have Always Lived In The Castle Book Cover We Have Always Lived In The Castle
Shirley Jackson
Penguin Classics

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-cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

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