How do I get over a book that has latched itself on to me, in a maddening sort of way? This might sound exaggerating, but you have to trust me when I say, ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ wasn’t what I expected it to be. Right from the first sentence, the book had me pine for more. of everything- the thrill, complex psychology, and a need to understand the characters but constantly being surprised at how much depth they all had.
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 our family is dead.
Mary Katherine Blackwood, or Merricat, one of the three occupants of this mansion that emits darkness. Merricat is content in her own world that involves protecting her family (or whatever is left of it), burying objects of sentimentality, adhering to the rules made by Constance and criticizing anything that brings about any kind of ripple to her perfectly ordinary life. She is an unreliable narrator, but you cannot escape from her pull. She makes you see her side of the story and strangely enough, you find yourself feeling a sense of protection towards her.
Constance, the elder sister, cannot stand the sight of strangers. But when Cousin Charles visits, there is a change in her demeanor, thereby bringing subtle changes to Merricat’s perfectly planned life. Merricat’s dedication towards her family is truly remarkable, and she would go to any lengths to protect them.
Merricat’s narration borders on something sinister and dark. And it is she, who holds the story together. Jackson’s highly imaginative world-building provides the right kind of atmosphere for the story to progress. Jackson’s way of evoking complex emotions throughout the story is just another example of what a master storyteller she is.
‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ isn’t horror but a complex psychological story where the characters and the backdrop contribute equally to give you a bone-chilling experience. An eerie experience, with a proud and twisted protagonist, Castle is a novel that will challenge your perception of things, plunging you deep into the heart of the Blackwood mansion that is disturbingly beautiful.
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Blurb (as on Goodreads):
Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.