This was the seventh (and final) book I read for the RIP V Challenge. Because I didn’t want to get too far behind in writing these reviews, I decided to review all my RIP books by answering the 5Ws―Who, What, When, Where, Why. (And, miraculously, I read and reviewed all my RIP books by Halloween!!!)
Scare-O-Meter Rating: 6 screams out of 10
WHAT is this book about?
The Blackwood family (what is left of them) live in a large estate outside a village. The gates leading to their home are always shut, secured by padlocks. The villagers don’t like the Blackwood family very much. In fact, it would be safe to say they despise them. Perhaps even hate them. The only member of the Blackwood family who ventures into the village is 18-year-old Mary Katherine (known as Merricat). Her trips to the village are done only out of necessity. After all, Merricat and her family need groceries and the occasional library book. But one day, Charles (a long-lost relative) comes for a visit, and his presence starts to change things around the Blackwood house with disastrous and unexpected results.
WHO do we meet?
- Merricat is our narrator and is quite unique. From the moment you meet her, you know she is a bit different. Consider the opening paragraph:
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
- Constance is Merricat’s older sister. She never leaves the estate and is quite the object of curiosity around the village for reasons you’ll discover when you read the book. Constance loves to cook and dotes on Merricat like her own child.
- Uncle Julian is the only other member of the Blackwood family living in the house. He’s in poor health and occasionally confused about where and when he is living. He is obsessed with his project, which involves writing about a fateful night in the Blackwood family history.
WHEN and WHERE does the book take place?
The story takes place in and around the Blackwood estate in an unnamed village, probably in the early 1960s.
WHY should you read this book?
Merricat is an unforgettable narrator, and I doubt you’ll soon forget her. I found her simultaneously amusing and creepy. Jackson does a brilliant job of presenting Merricat’s world view (and her own special brand of magic). I suspect you’ll be drawn into Merricat’s world, which is a different place indeed. At just 214 pages, We Have Always Lived In The Castle is a short read, but Jackson manages to create a memorable story filled with atmosphere and an unforgettable narrator. This was my last book for the RIP Challenge, and it was the perfect way to end.
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