It’s been at least 25 years since I read Shirley Jackson’s classic We Have Always Lived in the Castle. But it’s the kind of book that sticks in your mind.
I won’t say much about the plot, other than that it deals with the three surviving members of the Blackwood family: Merricat, a practicing witch, her elder sister Constance, who has not left their home for six years, and their deranged Uncle Julian. All three live in a large house, far from the neighboring village. Not so very long ago there were seven members of the family — until someone put a fatal dose of arsenic in the sugar bowl one night. Constance was acquitted of the murders and returned home, where her sister Merricat protects her from the sneers and curiosity of the townspeople. Their days pass in quiet isolation… until a new danger appears, in the shape of their mysterious cousin Charles.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of the most famous examples of “Southern Gothic,” and one of works that made Shirley Jackson famous. It was published three years before her death. There have been over a dozen editions, but my favorite is the 1963 paperback above, with the gorgeous and spooky cover by William Teason. You can usually find copies available online for under $10.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle was published in hardcover by The Viking Press in 1962, and reprinted in paperback by Popular Library in October 1963. The paperback is 173 pages, priced at sixty cents.