Living in a large mansion in the middle of a vast private garden, the Blackwood family had always been dislike by the residents of the village. The hate, however, came when the parents, their ten year old son and an aunt died of arsenic poisoning. But who murdered them and why? Why are the Blackwood daughters that survived so hated?
This is the last novel Shirley Jackson wrote before her death. It is as well written as a book can get, atmospheric, and with lots of suspense. You start the story not knowing what is going on with the family. Why is Constance never out of the garden? How did Mary Kate survive? What does Uncle Julian remember of that night? You follow their lives moving among the villagers, and then inside the house, and everything you see, smell and hear, combine with the thoughts of the narrator, young survivor Mary Kate Blackwood. Its eerie atmosphere will captivate you. This is not a book easily put down before it is finished!
Should you read this? Let me put it this way. Do you like eerie stories? This is not horror in the sense of splatter, excessive violence or supernatural fantasy. It is a different kind of horror story; spooky, yet extremely tasteful, so much that you forget that it is meant to be scary. Don’t get it wrong, you will get frightened, but not from the murders or the murderer, but from deeper aspects of the book: the mind of the surviving victims, the bad intentions of people, the hate for everything that is different to an individual in contrast to social structures. So yes, this is definitely worth reading. In fact, all of Jackson’s novels are worth your time.