Friday Face Off :  “There are children here somewhere. I can smell them.”

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

 “There are children here somewhere. I can smell them.” A cover featuring children

I could think of plenty of books for this weeks theme so hope it’s been relatively easier this week for everyone than in the past couple.  The books I’ve gone for Is We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson – which is an excellent read.

Here are my covers this week – I didn’t go for all of them as there are quite a lot:

My favourites :

That middle cover with the scratched out cat feels positively sinister.

I think my favourite is:

We4

I say ‘I think’ because I do like the black and white one and this Penguin one doesn’t really feel sinister – but I like it anyway.

Like last week I’ve added a Mr Linky here so that you can leave a link if you wish or please leave me a link in the comments so we can all visit and check out each others covers.  Thanks

I’ve updated the list and included themes through to the end of 2019 – I’ve also included events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share that let me know in the comments).  I also have a list prepared for 2020 and so will set up a separate page soon for forthcoming themes.  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment.

Next week –  A cover featuring pirates

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers)

2019

9th August – “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request.” – A cover featuring Pirates

16th August – “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

23rd August – A cover that is a movie tie in

30th August – “I wandered lonely as a cloud” – a cover that is predominantly yellow

6th September “Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

13th September – Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

20th September – “Your hair is winter fire,January embers.” – A cover featuring hair

27th September – Freebie

4th October – “Feed me Seymour” – A cover that is 60s horror

11th October – ““And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”  – a cover featuring an Inn

18th October – “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had on the white mask, he stalked the babysitters.” – A cover featuring a scream

25th October – for Halloween – pick any scary cover you like

(I’m hoping that November will once again bring to us SciFiMonth – Twitter @SciFiMonth)

1st November – A cover that is predominantly grey

8th November – “big badda boom” – a cover that features an explosion

15th November – “No thinking thing should be another thing’s property, to be turned on and off when it is convenient.” – a cover featuring a robot

22nd November – A cover that is Futuristic

29th November – “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – a cover that is 60s sci fi

6th December – Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”  – a cover that puts you in mind of winter

13th December – A cover that features a temple/or religious icon

20th December – Longest Night –  a dark and foreboding cover

27th December – the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.

Friday Face Off : ‘There’s more of gravy than of grave about you’ – a cover featuring a ghost or spectre

FFO.jpg

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .   This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme. This week’s theme:

‘There’s more of gravy than of grave about you’ – a cover featuring a ghost or spectre

Funnily enough I thought this week’s theme would be much easier than it actually worked out.  The book I eventually chose was : The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

My covers:

I narrowed this down to the following:

My favourite is:

haunting11

Which is your favourite?

Next week – a cover featuring a icicles or snow

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ of one of your favourite covers)

20th July -‘In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow’A cover featuring icicles or snow

27th July – “I saw huge buildings rise up faint and fair, and pass like dreams.”  – a cover that is steampunk

3rd August – “Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.” – a cover featuring a starry sky

10th August – ‘…Christine, who have torn off my mask and who therefore can never leave me again! – A cover with a mask

17th August – ‘Knock, knock… ‘who’s there?’ – A cover featuring a door ajar or closed

24th August – ‘To be a legend, you’ve either got to be dead, or excessively old!’ – A cover with a title featuring the word ‘legend’

31st August – ‘“Come buy our orchard fruits, Come buy, come buy’ – A cover featuring a goblin or dwarves

7th September – ‘Mirror, Mirror on the wall – A cover featuring a queen

14th September – “He had killed man, the noblest game of all, and he had killed in the face of the law of club and fang.” – A cover featuring a wolf or wolves

21st September – ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ – a cover featuring clouds

28th September – Eyes wide shut – a cover featuring eyes

5th October – “He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money.” – A cover that is ‘noir’

12th October – “The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”  – A cover for a mystery novel

19th October -“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”  – A horror cover

26th October – Trick or treat – A halloween inspired cover

2nd November – ‘Remember, remember the fifth of November,’ – A cover inspired by Bonfire Night

9th November – ‘All right! They’re spiders from Mars! You happy?’ – A cover feturing a critter of the eight legged variety

16th November – There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.’  – A scary cover

23rd November – ‘The child is in love with a human. And not just any human. A prince!’ – A cover featuring a mermaid/man

30th November – “..the children of the night. What music they make!” – a cover with a vampire

7th December – ‘I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.’ – A cover featuring a hero

14th December -“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”  – A cover featuring a crown

21st December – ‘ho, ho, ho’ – A seasonal cover

28th December – A freebie – choose one of your favourite titles and compare the covers

2019

4th January – A cover that is fresh – New beginnings for a New Year

11th January – ‘I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king’ – A cover that depicts a novel set in the Tudor period

18th January – A cover featuring an Amulet – either in the cover or title

25th January – ‘Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.’ – A cover featuring a monk/priest/person of the cloth

1st February – A comedy cover

8th February – ‘Hi little cub. Oh no, don’t be ssscared.’ – A cover with snakes

15th February – A heart – for Valentine’s day past

22nd February – “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay; the worst is death and death will have his day.” – A cover with abandoned building/s

1st March – ‘who will buy this wonderful morning’ – A cover featuring a shop or market

8th March – ‘Two little fishes and a momma fishy too’ – A cover featuring a fish/fishes or other sea creatures

15th March – ‘Beware the moon, lads.’ – A cover with a shapeshifter

22nd March – ‘A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse’ – A cover featuring a king

29th March – “I thought unicorns were more . . . Fluffy.”  – A cover featuring a unicorn

5th April – ‘nomad is an island’ – A cover featuring a desert landscape

12th April – ‘Odin, Odin, send the wind to turn the tide – A cover featuring a longboat

19th april – ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – A cover featuring a school

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House is the first book I’ve completed for my RIP event over at Stainless Steel Droppings (and for those of you who haven’t yet signed up there’s plenty of time to do so.  Details here) and I thought it was great.

Now, firstly I should probably point out that this book was written in the late 50s and so if you’re expecting some sort of horror along the lines of the most recent movie then you’ll probably be disappointed.  (Although I would say that the earlier black and white version does a much better job of portraying the book – even if it doesn’t appeal to horror fans.  (Basically, think along the lines of reading I am Legend and then comparing it to the recent movie – not really anything alike).

For me, this was much more psychological and, if you’ve already read other Jackson stories this will probably ring true for you.

Hill House starts off as an experiment by Dr Montague.  He invites people who he thinks have psychic abilities to come and stay at Hill House, which he believes to be haunted, to see and record their various experiences.  Two of these people respond.  Eleanor and Theodora.  Luke, the heir apparent also joins the cosy little party.

There’s such a lot that I enjoyed about this story.  Jackson is excellent at setting up characters.  Eleanor is, of course, the main character.  She’s lead a strange and inhibited life.  At the constant beck and call of her mother and since her mother’s death seemingly living in the shadow of her sister. At the opposite end we have Theodora with her extrovert nature, beautiful and flippant and frankly the complete opposite of the shrinking violet Eleanor.  Step into their lives two different males characters.  Dr Montague, who acts like the fatherly, wise teacher to the group – although he seems a little out of his own comfort zone – and Luke, who seems to be the object or toy of Theodora’s attention.

So, all of these characters diverge upon Hill House – the only other characters are the gatekeeper/groundsman and his wife – both leave the property locked when they go at 6.00 pm (or when it goes dark – and, by the way, they can’t hear the inhabitants screams from where they live!).  There seems to be a sort of hysteria about Hill House with the villagers – who simply don’t acknowledge it’s presence, let alone speak of it.  Even Eleanor, upon arrival, has an overwhelming fear of the house.  It’s shape, it’s proportions, the way it seems to watch her.

As you read the story you wonder how much of this is a ghost story and how much is a prank on the part of someone else and yet certain of the occurrences can’t so simply be explained away.  All of the guests experience something strange and yet Eleanor seems to be the target.

Is it simply that Eleanor is a little unhinged herself?  I’m not sure even now and am going round in circles thinking about it.  She certainly seemed to lack anything of her own and seemed to come into her own at Hill House.  I definitely had a few moments of thinking maybe she was the perpetrator of certain ‘elements’ of the story in order to gain attention yet as the book progresses I began to think that her behaviour was as a result of the house and certainly some of her thoughts were quite strange to read.

Everything about the house is evil, apparently.  It was built at strange angles so that everything you see is not quite where it should be.  All the doors mysteriously shut by themselves as they seem to be hung on a slant.  The contents are dark and they add to the general feel of foreboding.  The rooms fan out from a central location with no apparent reason, lots of doors from each room lending an overall impression of confusion.

The long story short on this one is simply was Eleanor paranoid delusional or was she influenced by the house.  Given the last thoughts in the book I think the latter but let me know what you think.

This is definitely a good read.  It’s not horrendous or terrible but it definitely has it’s chilling moments and seeing how Eleanor develops and changes and being privy to her sometimes rather strange thoughts was quite fascinating.

I read this as part of my RIP and also my Classics list.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Finished reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle a few days ago but didn’t want to review it immediately because I wanted to have a think about it.  That isn’t a negative by the way.  I really enjoyed it and it was a compelling read.

WHALINC tells the story of the  Blackwood Family who live on a large estate in New England and just a short stretch from a nearby village.  As the story unfolds we learn that the majority of the Blackwoods died 6 years earlier as a result of using sugar laced with arsenic.  The remaining three members of the family live together in the family home and the villages harbour a deep resentment towards them, thinking that one particular member of the family has gotten away with murder.

The story is told by Mary Catherine, or Merricat, as she is known.  Merricat is 18 years old although it is sometimes quite easy to lose sight of this fact and to think of her age as nearer to that of a 10/12 year old.  The remaining members of the Blackwoods are Uncle Julian who survived the arsenic attack but is very frail and now uses a wheelchair and Constance, Merricat’s older sister who was tried and acquitted for the murders.

I would start by saying say that this story is beautifully told.  It’s easy to envision everything that the author describes and yet she doesn’t labour the point.  Her writing is simple and evocative.  We look at this small family living almost in a dreamlike state in the ways of bygone years.  They have a simple and almost idyllic existence, secluded away from all others – apart from the occasional intrusive visit that they suffer from one of their own ‘class’ trying to offer the hand of friendship (but more often than not displaying a sort of vulgar curiosity) or the weekly trip to the village made defiantly by Merricat as she goes to collect provisions.  I say defiantly because each visit is received with ill-disguised mistrust at best and downright hatred at worst.  The villagers have no hesitation in making their feelings known.  They don’t like this family and more so they harbour deep resentment for what they believe to be a miscarriage of justice.

The three main characters are easy to like on initial contact although a bit puzzling.  Clearly one of them is a murderer?  And yet there is no recrimination or judgement.  Constance is almost angelic, looking after Julian and Merricat whilst smiling lovingly and indulgingly at whatever antics Merricat may get up to.  She tends her garden, grows and preserves produce and cooks for the family who still cling to their traditions -such as eating in the dining room where the terrible crime played out.  Uncle Julian survived the attack but not unscathed.  He’s weak and his memory is not good – he, in fact, sometimes thinks that Merricat also died during the poisoning.  And then we have Merricat.  As I mentioned above I think you could easily be forgiven for thinking Merricat is much younger than her 18 years.  She has a wild and slightly out of control character that at first comes across as part of her childish charm but eventually starts to develop into something a little darker.  Merricat seems to believe she is a witch of sorts.  She practices burying things to create magic and believes that she keeps the family and estate safe from intruders by a number of ‘wards’ she has placed about the grounds.  Plus, not to forget her trusty familiar, Jonas the cat.

However, Merricat’s wards are about to be tested when Cousin Charles comes to visit.  Suffice to say that whilst one sister is pleased with the visit the other is not.  Things quickly become ugly and events start to spiral out of control.

I won’t say anything more about the rest of the plot.   I enjoyed the book very much.  It was completely intriguing and compelling.  It was also a little bit puzzling – although not in a bad way.  I think that anybody who reads this will probably put two and two together fairly early on in terms of who actually committed the murders so it’s not trying to be a mystery or for that matter a thriller.  It’s more of a chiller.  Basically, we have the two sisters and the way I see it is one of them wants to live a quiet existence with just the two of them and whilst that seems a creepy sort of thing to say it’s also obvious that both sisters love each other.

Okay, being careful about what I say is not really helping this review.  I think you just need to read the book.  It’s very thought provoking – even the conclusion which was almost like a fairytale ending.