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BookRatMisty

BookRatMisty

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle - We Have Always Lived in the Castle tells the story of the Blackwoods, a hill-country family more well-off than their neighbors, and maybe just a little more off than them, too. Told from the POV of 18 year old Mary Katherine Blackwood, the youngest, we learn that the remaining Blackwoods -- Merricat, her older sister, Constance, invalid Uncle Julian, and Jonas the cat -- are shunned by the townsfolk to the point of Frankensteinian pitch-fork crazy.Mary Katherine, or Merricat, as she is called, is a thoroughly fascinating character. She reads like I Capture the Castle's Cassandra Mortmain if she were maybe OCD and slightly disturbed. In fact, the whole thing reads like the Mortmains with a dash of gothic crazy thrown in. Through Merricat, it is slowly revealed that the reason the Blackwoods are shunned, and the reason there are only three left, is because the rest of the family was poisoned over dinner six years prior -- and Constance stood trial for it. Now, they keep to themselves in their secluded house with agoraphobic zeal, with Merricat making dreaded weekly trips into town for supplies.They could go on this way forever, avoiding people, avoiding life, living in Merricat's fantasies -- until a visitor comes and things will never be the same.So, that's the basic story, without giving too much away. What I loved about this, what I found absolutely compelling, was the tone of this story. Jackson, known for her insanely famous tale "The Lottery," is a master of tone. Her stories always seem to have a presence; you can feel them in the room with you. Everything about Merricat's world seems present and ominous and dangerous. The town has a presence, the forest and fields have a presence, the Blackwood house -- more so than anything -- has a presence. In only 200 or so pages, Jackson makes everything come alive, which is an impressive feat.Merricat, as the narrator, is quirky and volatile and possibly brilliant. She is very much haunted and slightly odd, and as the reader, you become completely absorbed in Merricat's view: you know the world is against you, and you find yourself going along with the things she does. It's easy to root for Merricat, even when you start to doubt her. The peripheral characters are fascinating and difficult and compelling.In short, if you can handle a healthy dose of weird and/or crazy, this slim story pulls no punches. Definitely add it to your list (Halloween-time reading is recommended).The rest of my review (with BM and whatnot) is here