Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

First published 1962 | Penguin
Rating: 4/5 stars


Merricat Blackwood lives on her family’s secluded estate with her sister Constance and Uncle Julian. The Blackwood family has been blacklisted in the neighboring town. Not long ago there were more Blackwoods living on the estate, but four of them died tragically from a fatal dose of arsenic finding its way into the sugar bowl. The town was convinced that Constance poisoned her family, but there was not enough evidence to prove her guilt.

I wished they were all dead and I was walking on their bodies.

The remaining Blackwoods now live on their estate and never stray far from home. Merricat has become the family’s protector and will occasionally venture into town. The trio seem to be content with their isolated lifestyle until the arrival of cousin Charles shakes their world. Merricat can sense the presence of danger, but can she protect those she loves?

“I can’t help it when people are frightened,” said Merricat. “I always want to frighten them more.”

I’ve never read anything by Shirley Jackson before, but for years now I have been hearing wonderful things about WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. I was not disappointed! This book is the perfect moody Gothic mystery classic for a Fall reading list. The Blackwood family is nothing short of eccentric! Each member seems to dance around the murders that have occurred on their estate, but the truth is there, lurking right under the surface. The arrival of cousin Charles brings all the drama in the most fantastic old school way possible. Think mobs of angry people! The end of the book was fantastic and definitely left me creeped out! I will be adding more Shirley Jackson onto my TBR ASAP!

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