We Have Always Lived in a Castle

We Have Always Lived in a Castle by Shirley Jackson

It’s October, and I’m starting my “castle” series to celebrate my least holiday: Halloween.

1) “I played a game when I did the shopping. I thought about the children’s games where the board is marked into little spaces and each player moves according to a throw of the dice; there were always dangers, like ‘lose one turn’ and ‘go back four spaces’ and ‘return to start,’ and little helps, like ‘advance three spaces’ and ‘take an extra turn.'”

Is it neurotic to avoid stepping on pavement cracks?

2) “‘The highway is built for common people, and my front door is private.’” – Mother

I really liked the early chapters that set the scene of the isolated castle.

3) “‘My niece, after all, was acquitted of murder. There could be no possible danger in visiting here now.'” – Uncle Julian

The past incident was methodically revealed piecemeal through dialogue.

4) “On Sunday mornings I examined my safeguards, the box of silver dollars I had buried by the creek, and the doll buried in the long field, and the book nailed to the tree in the pine woods.”

I really thought something was going to happen with these.

5) “‘Charles. You are Arthur’s son, but you resemble my brother John, who is dead.'” – Uncle Julian

What a weird uncle.

6) “‘Cousin Mary doesn’t like me. I wonder if Cousin Mary knows how I get even with people who don’t like me?'” – Charles

For once, the cat doesn’t talk. But the humans talk to the cats.

7) “‘My niece Mary Katherine has been a long time dead, young man. She did not survive the loss of her family; I suppose you knew that.'” – Uncle Julian

This book is not horror, but it is undeniably eerie.

8) “I did not see any need to move quickly or to run shrieking around the house because the fire did not seem to be hurrying itself.”

Reading this around the time of the wildfires was a bit worrisome.

9) “‘The way you did before?'” – Constance

The plot twist was not a surprise but executed well.

10) “In the mornings when I awakened I would go at once down the hall to make sure the front door was locked.”

It sounds like a sad way to live, except I do the same at night.

This book was not what I expected. I was looking for some horror, and this wasn’t it. That said, I appreciated the creepy vibes and the witty dialogue. Afterwards, I found out that Jackson also wrote “The Lottery,” one of the most memorable short stories I read in middle school.

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