Hmmm....As I was reading this book, I wasn't entirely sure what to think. I thought it was just about a weird, eccentric family and wrote it off as a boring story. Upon finishing it though, and upon reflecting, I realized really how haunting and chilling a story this really was.The way I see it, it is sort of an alternate fairy tale story. It feels very gothic, dark and sinister. To me, Merricat reads as much younger than 18 and that annoyed me a bit throughout the book. Upon reflection though, I wondered if she was written that way to raise questions about her mental stability. I mean, is she insane? Did she simply stop developing mentally after 12 years old, when that tragedy struck her family? Is she just really eccentric? Personally, I think she is just a bit insane. And Constance...Is she also insane? Is she actually terrified of Merricat? I'm really not sure. I was left wondering where this story was going to go without any real conflict until Cousin Charles shows up. Despite the unhealthiness of the family's habits (reclusiveness, etc.), the reader is really left hating Cousin Charles and his pushiness and greediness. He feels intrusive. I also really enjoyed the world built in this book. Though the book is a quick read at only 126 pages, it is a very immersive world. I think the narration is very descriptive and sometimes cinematic. Further, all of Constance's delicious food really ignites the senses of the reader.Interestingly, the story raises the classic "who is the real enemy?" question. I felt awful for the Blackwoods' experiences with the villagers. They are all so cruel. But then later on, you find out who the "real" enemy is in the story, but somehow it doesn't excuse the cruelty of the villagers. Anyways, this story was an amazing, haunting alternate gothic fairy tale. This was my first Shirley Jackson and I will be sure to pick up some more.