Read this collection because I think The Haunting of Hill House is one of the greatest horror novels ever written. The twenty-five stories collected here are not exactly horror, but they’re usually dark enough to suggest that even if creepy things aren’t happening in these rooms, horror is never that far down the hall.
“The Lottery” is still probably the best in the collection, although I might prefer “Flower Garden,” which is a nicely nuanced story about racism in a small town. Other standouts include “Elizabeth,” about a woman realizing her disposability to her boss; “Seven Types of Ambiguity,” which is a fantastic bit of quiet cruelty; and “Renegade,” about a woman who is left to deal with a chicken-killing dog.
Almost all the stories here echo “The Lottery” in their depictions of society strangling the individual. Often, there’s a battle between the city and the town, as well, as Jackson writes quite well about people moving from one population density to another. As someone who grew up in a small mill town in Maine and now lives in New York City, I related to a lot of the troubles some of the characters were having.
While the balance of the stories are well-written and evocative, some others fail to have the punch I think Jackson was intending. “Charles,” in particular, was dreadfully predictable. So, a few gentle points off for that and for some of the other shorter pieces that didn’t work so well, but overall a wonderful collection.