Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle book cover
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Shirley Jackson
1962
★★★★★

(Listened to audiobook)

Creepy, but sub­tly creepy. I re­ally liked the char­ac­ters; Mary Kather­ine is one of my new fa­vorite fic­tional char­ac­ters.

Expand for spoilery thoughts
  • Jack­son does a great job at the be­gin­ning of mak­ing you sym­pa­thize with Mary Kather­ine. You ex­cuse her be­hav­ior at first, then slowly re­al­ize how twisted she is. I haven’t de­cided if she’s men­tally hand­i­capped, in­sane, or just an aw­ful per­son. By the end I wanted to shake her and yell, “Your fam­ily is dead and your un­cle is dead and your house is burned down and IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!”
  • Un­cle Ju­lian de­served bet­ter. ☹ The way Mary Kather­ine and Con­stance leave him and never re­gret it… 😠
  • I as­sumed part­way through that Mary Kather­ine was just imag­in­ing that the towns­peo­ple were ter­ri­ble; nope.
  • Even more hor­ri­fy­ing than the slow re­veal of Mary Kather­ine’s char­ac­ter is re­al­iz­ing that Con­stance is as bad or worse. Mary Kather­ine might have the ex­cuse of men­tal prob­lems or at least the lack of par­ent­ing for her be­hav­ior; Con­stance al­lows and ex­cuses all those ter­ri­ble ac­tions. She has mo­ments of clar­ity and re­gret, then a few min­utes later she’s smil­ing and bak­ing pies. 😲
  • I’m go­ing to have this stuck in my head for a while:

    Mer­ri­cat, said Con­nie, would you like a cup of tea?
    Oh no, said Mer­ri­cat, you’ll poi­son me.
    Mer­ri­cat, said Con­nie, would you like to go to sleep?
    Down in the bone­yard ten feet deep.

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