★★★★★: The gleefully sinister tale of a girl outcast who sends shudders through a small village.
I read this book a little while ago and found myself captivated by its eerie and innocently poetic tone. The story surrounds two girls who live isolated in a large old house and are subject to the whisperings of the village surrounding it. The story itself is wonderfully told and smartly revealed, but what stands out for me is the atmosphere it possesses. At once haunting and mirthful, and tiptoeing in this glorious space between sly matter-of-fact and a manic, teasing bliss.
Merricat, our protagonist, is hard to pin down. She is erratic. Calm and wild almost at the same time. Extreme and yet meticulous in her actions, superstitions, and word-based spells. Shirley Jackson writes in such a delicious, intense way. I felt the force of every juddering and careening thought and feeling displayed by the book's characters throughout, and the representations of the sense of the excluded and the sense of the sinister were perfectly portrayed.
This has become my favourite book, because I love cats and spells and weird superstitions and poetry and precocious girls and secrets and death. I'm very glad to have read this hidden ruby of a book this year.