During the 20th century, many who adored reading the best horror and mystery novels turned to Jackson’s work. Shirley was born in 1916 and she wasn’t fortunate enough to have a good long run as she sadly passed away in her sleep from heart failure when she was only 48 years old. Nevertheless, she managed to leave a legacy behind that every horror and mystery fiction fan will appreciate.
During her writing career, she wrote six amazing novels, two brilliant memoirs, and over 200 short stories. This Shirley Jackson book review will introduce you to some of her best work and also teach you a thing or two about this brilliant author. These are 10 of the best Shirley Jackson books to ever exist and here’s what you need to know about each of them.
Best Shirley Jackson Books
|The Haunting of Hill House||9.08/10||208 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|We Have Always Lived in the Castle||9.36/10||146 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Jacksons Series||9.66/10||2 Books||Check Price On Amazon|
|The Lottery and Other Stories||9.64/10||320 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
|Hangsaman||8.92/10||240 Pages||Check Price On Amazon|
The Haunting of Hill House
Before we begin with this Jackson books list, lock the doors, and get comfortable because these stories are about to show you the real meaning of horror. The title of this book already sounds exciting enough but wait until you meet the characters who’ll be bringing all of the action. The book also features a stunning introduction by Laura Miller that makes things a bit more interesting.
Victorian Gothic House
Hill House is the name of the extremely unpleasant residence where most of the story takes place sometime in the 1950s. The entire story happens over the course of only a week but it will seem like much more than that for the characters you’re about to meet. You get to meet most of them as soon as the story begins but after that, the horror finally starts. That’s when you realize why this could be Shirley Jackson’s best book ever.
The Dark Secrets of Hill House
It will be very clear that this house isn’t a normal one. When it comes to the best Shirley Jackson books, anything is hardly normal. One of the most influential characters is Dr. Montague. He is the one who organizes the trip to this house to study supernatural phenomena as this is his passion in life.
There are a few other characters who accompany him and they are all in for a dark surprise. The house will wait and give them a bit of time to lower their guard, but when it’s ready, horrible events will begin taking place.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
There’s not as much horror as there is mystery in this amazing book by Jackson as one particular character will never make you stop wondering. This is a story about two sisters who live with their disabled uncle in an isolated and ancient estate. The three are all that remain after the rest of the family was murdered by being poisoned with arsenic.
Two of the main characters are Mary Katherine and Constance. Mary is the younger of the siblings and is also the weirder one. She is quite the superstitious character with lots of dark thoughts and many other issues as well.
Constance, on the other hand, is older and more normal than her sister. She is the one who takes care of their disabled uncle Julian and she rarely leaves the property. Her little sister, who is 18 years old, occasionally goes to the village to pick up groceries and is always mocked and picked on by the people there for her weird qualities. This doesn’t make her situation any better.
The Secret Behind the Family Murder
Here comes the part that makes this one a part of the best Shirley Jackson books out there. No one still knows who is behind the poisoning of their family. You get to make your own assumptions when their cousin Charlie comes to the estate and starts to make things fall apart with his greed.
After a series of events, much of the house burns down and the rest gets destroyed by villagers. The truth about the murder will surface at the end and you will be faced with a mind-boggling surprise.
We’ll be taking a little break from all the mystery and horror with this series by Shirley. There are two books inside and the topic being discussed is Shirley’s own life in Vermont with her family. This is one of the memoir books we talked about and one of the best-selling Jackson books. Inside, you get to read stories that are humorous, thrilling, and full of surprises.
Life Among the Savages
This is the first book of the two in the series. We all know that most of Jackson’s novels are dark with stories of mystery and horror but not this one. This is a story in which you read her memoir of what life is like in the rural land of Vermont. She describes the family life, but not just any family life, this is her unique example. The book starts wonderfully as Jackson paints a wonderful picture of how things are in Vermont.
Things like children that never do what you tell them, furnaces that break down just when you need them to be working, cars that won’t even start, bullies, and just your everyday average events are what you can expect to read. If you’re looking for the best Shirley Jackson series to show you a bit about the author, then you’ve just found it.
Different Doesn’t Mean Worse
This is a different story than the most popular Shirley Jackson books we all know and love, but that is far from meaning that the book isn’t any good. In fact, every author needs a book like this one. A book that lets you get to know them on a deeper level and allows you to start caring more and more about their work.
The Lottery and Other Stories
Some of the Best
Here it is, one of the best-rated Shirley Jackson books of all time and described as one of the most shocking and haunting stories to ever be written in the 20th century. This book contains The Lottery and all of its dark and messed up secrets as well as 24 other short stories that go perfectly well with the main one. You’re about to experience what it’s like to read perhaps the best Shirley Jackson novel ever to be written.
This story is the main attraction of the book. The story inside of Jackson’s Lottery book isn’t a story with anything supernatural, it’s not a story with any kind of phenomena, and it’s not a story with haunted houses or ghosts or anything like that. This is a story that has a thing or two to say about the status quo as a woman is beaten to death with stones after winning the village lottery under modified circumstances.
The full story is bound to give you chills and probably make you realize a few things about human beings and our culture and beliefs that we have created for ourselves. Jackson’s The Lottery is indeed daunting and chilling at the very end.
Aside from this masterpiece, there are 24 other short stories, that will spark a lot of interest as well. Not all the stories inside feature truly horrifying plots as some of them are quite hilarious and cheerful. Others include next-level mystery and horror which has always been Shirley’s best quality.
Where the Madness Begins
This is Shirley’s second novel in order. It’s one that features a simple yet powerful and exciting plot. Most of the story follows a girl called Natalie Waite, a seventeen-year-old who has no idea what life has in store for her.
For her second novel ever, it’s surprising that Shirley wrote such an exciting and complex piece about a character who you won’t stop wondering about. It goes to show that even her second novel easily becomes one of the best Jackson books you will read.
Natalie Waite is a member of a family that consists of a domineering father who forces her to obtain a personality she did not choose herself and a mother who is the perfect example of how a defeated and unhappy woman should look like.
To make things worse and add a lot more pressure, Natalie is getting ready to leave home and begin her college days. Here’s where this book turns into one of the top Shirley Jackson books ever as the events that follow are going to have you biting your nails.
The Fantasy Suicide Friend
Until now, Natalie’s life hasn’t been the most normal one out there but things get way worse after one particular party. After a series of events, Natalie is taken to the woods and gets sexually assaulted by an older man. She slowly starts going mad.
At college, she meets a friend with who she has a lot in common, called Tony. She follows Tony everywhere and into more and more dangerous situations. In the end, it turns out that Tony was another one of her mad fantasies and that it nearly got her to commit suicide. For a second book, this is one of Shirley Jackson’s best books that you cannot afford to miss.
The Sundial is another book that’s about to give you chills. There are quite a few characters to meet here and the majority of them are members of one family, the Hallorans. Most of the story takes place in the Halloran house as you get to meet the main characters one by one. The house itself will later come to play a huge role that will impact the ending a lot.
The story starts with a funeral. The house’s master, Lionel Halloran, fell down the stairs and unfortunately didn’t survive. The reason this book is so exciting and is easily one of the top Jackson novels is that some of the characters don’t believe that his death was an accident. Instead, Lionel’s wife, Maryjane, is convinced that he was intentionally pushed down the stairs.
She believes that the culprit here was Lionel’s mother, Orianna. Until this point, the story seems like nothing more than some family drama gone wrong. But, the true horror of the story comes when you learn a bit more about the Halloran house itself.
The End of the World
Fanny is another character who lives in the same house. Her vision of her father warning her that the world is coming to an end is about to change everything. She also finds out that the rest of the world will be destroyed but the Halloran house will be spared.
So begins a haunting journey for power and control of the house and for the destined doomsday that is coming very soon. The ending of the novel will hit you the hardest as this is one of Shirley Jackson’s horror novels that will be living in your head rent-free for quite a while.
The Bird’s Nest
Next, is another book that highlights the word creepy. This is her third novel but if we had to list Shirley Jackson’s books ranked, then this one might go a bit higher than that. There’s one main character in this story but you’ll quickly come to feel like there are four.
Elizabeth is a young girl who has been suffering from some very strong headaches lately. She lives with her Aunt, Morgan. There are six chapters in the book and the majority of them follow different characters but everything is also focused on Elizabeth. Her Aunt Morgan takes her to the doctor one day after Elizabeth starts behaving weirdly.
Dr. Wright is the doctor who she gets sent to and he is the psychiatrist who discovers the problem. At first, she discovers that she has a multiple personality disorder and reveals two of her personalities, Beth and Betsy. Beth is an ordinary and friendly girl but Betsy is a whole different situation. She is childish and demonic.
Meet the Girls
The later chapters each focus on one of her personalities individually. It starts with Betsy and you get to see how she acts and behaves daily. The story so far might not feel like a horror one but don’t worry, this is one of the many Jackson books that won’t disappoint. Later on, you read about each of her personalities and experience some very creepy stuff.
17 Spooky Stories
Here is another collection full of some of the best Shirley Jackson novels and stories that you’ll want to read again if you have already. If not, then get ready for some very scary stories. You’re going to find out a few reasons that make this one of the best Shirley Jackson works ever.
There are 17 stories, that are worth the read if you already find Jackson quite interesting. Some are worth to be read over and over again while others will be just okay. Nonetheless, each of the tales inspires unease and lack of comfort, which is something horror fans would kill for. The gothic style makes you feel even more excited about the tales and the suspense will offer the perfect amount of heart racing and adrenalin.
What these stories are going to bring you is a series of examples to get familiar with Shirley’s writing style. This makes this collection the best Shirley Jackson book to get to know the author with. If you want to read creepy stories that show the true meaning of weird and will easily give you chills, then this is the perfect choice for you.
The Missing Girl
The next to last book we have for you is no exception when it comes to the best books by Shirley Jackson. This edition of the Missing Girl offers three stories inside, The Missing Girl itself, Journey With a Lady, and Nightmare.
The Missing Girl
This is the first short story in the collection. It starts as a 13-year-old girl suddenly becomes missing from a summer camp. An intense search begins but then something weird starts happening. Everyone begins to wonder who this girl was and if anyone really knew her. There’s a deeper meaning behind this story that you’ll have to discover for yourself as the girl might have never even existed in the first place.
Journey With a Lady
In the second story, the plot is a little sweeter and more elegant. It follows a young boy who is traveling on a train. Next to him, is a woman who is running from the law. This boy wants nothing to do with her at first but later forms a bond with her, comforting her before she turns herself in.
The last story follows Miss Morgan, a secretary who has been assigned to deliver a package to someone. On the way, she sees ads for a wanted Miss X who somehow looks exactly like her. There’s quite a bit of suspense in this one as she keeps seeing more and more ads and a series of people start following her. What happens next is up to you to find out.
The Witchcraft of Salem Village
This is the last of the books of Jackson you get to read about here and apparently, the story here is based on a true story that happened decades ago. Shirley writes about witches, superstition, trials, and some very horrifying events.
Salem is a real place that is known for the execution of people who practiced witchcraft. Shirley talks about a group of young girls living in this place who were caught doing the one thing forbidden there, talking about magic, spells, and witchcraft. These girls were fascinated by some magic tales that a woman named Tituba used to tell.
Shirley offers a one of a kind analysis of how things went down back then as she discusses some true stories of trials, assumptions, and executions that involved witchcraft. The girls started accusing many of being witches and so began a series of controversies that Shirley tells you all about.
Robert is a science fiction and fantasy geek. (He is also the best looking Ereads writer!) Besides reading and writing, he enjoys sports, cosplay, and good food (don't we all?). Currently works as an accountant (would you believe that?)