cover image A Haunting on the Hill

A Haunting on the Hill

Elizabeth Hand. Mulholland, $30 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-52732-3

This riveting tale from Nebula Award winner Hand (Hokuloa Road) eerily, if sometimes unevenly, updates and riffs on Shirley Jackson’s classic ghost story The Haunting of Hill House. Twenty years ago, tragedy derailed Holly Sherwin’s burgeoning playwriting career, but she’s optimistic about the powerful new piece she’s drafted, so she rents the remote Hill House as a retreat and rehearsal space where she, her girlfriend, Nisa, and two others can prepare for its debut performance. Interpersonal conflicts and uncanny phenomena begin immediately, but the group insists on staying and completing the project. When a sudden storm threatens to further isolate them, they realize the old house is much more than a quirky relic of a bygone age. While the story takes its time getting underway, Hand demonstrates masterful control over the ebb and flow of tension once it does. Lush atmospheric details and sharply observed characterization abound, but occasionally overload the plot to the point that certain elements end up feeling extraneous or underutilized. Still, this chillingly mesmerizing narrative is a worthy addition to the haunted house canon. Agent: Danielle Bukowski, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Oct.)