A Haunting on the Hill

Mulholland. Oct. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780316527323. $30. HORROR
Hand’s (Hokolua Road) new novel revisits the infamous haunted house from Shirley Jackson’s classic The Haunting of Hill House. Holly, a struggling playwright looking to flesh out her witchy comeback, thinks that Hill House, the eerie mansion she’s stumbled across in Upstate New York, would be the perfect place to finish her play. She rents the house and takes her partner Nisa, a singer; their friend, sound guy/actor Stevie; and theater legend Amanda along, despite warnings and a disturbing first visit. The house rapidly reveals itself to be a malevolent force, playing on the past traumas and insecurities of its guests with typically devastating consequences. There are interesting side characters and unexpected plotting woven into the lovely prose, along with some nice nods to Jackson’s original novel and the recent Mike Flanagan Netflix miniseries that fans will appreciate, although Hand’s new novel lacks the subtlety and ambiguity of the original.
VERDICT Where Jackson gave glimpses of possibility, Hand purposefully pulls back the curtain on a Hill House in its full derangement, but this haunted-house tale stands on its own very spooky legs.
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