book review

Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson–Review

There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunting world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods…

-Goodreads Synopsis

Author: Shirley Jackson

My Rating: 5/5

My Favourite Quote: “She knew that if she asked her husband to take her to a movie, or out for a ride, or to play gin rummy, he would smile at her and agree; he was always willing to do things to please her, still, after ten years of marriage. An odd thought crossed her mind: she would pick up the heavy glass ashtray and smash her husband over the head with it.”

Dark Tales Link

This collection of short stories is so wonderfully haunting. I bought because I thought it would be a good way to get into a spooky, autumnal mood and it certainly did the trick!

As I said this is a collection of short stories and I feel as though it would be more appropriate to review them as a whole rather then as separate stories. While they do all stand alone, I think reviewing them as a whole is more true to the experience of reading a collection such as this, and slightly more practical as they come bound together. In addition to this rational, I would also have a terribly difficult time trying to pick and choose my favourites between stories, because I honestly loved them all.

This collection, in true Shirley Jackson form, takes very mundane, daily scenarios and turns them on their head. One of the reasons why I adore Jackson’s writing is because it is a subtle kind of horror. If you are looking for a book with outright scares, you won’t find it here. Rather her writing is set in the real world, but slightly wrong, slightly corrupted. You wouldn’t catch it at a first glance, but the slightly nagging feeling of wrongness builds.

Her writing is incredibly beautiful but also so honest. She is often writing a sort of commentary on the banality of life, but it is done so well it doesn’t feel forced. In addition to this, Jackson’s characters are some of the most realistic I’ve come across.  They are so complex, and often have incredibly distasteful and grating internal monologues yet, you still know that person. You still believe that people who behave in these ways, think such rude things because you’ve encountered these people in your life.

Shirley Jackson lived and wrote in another era. She was born in 1916 and died in 1965, yet to me her writing doesn’t seem dated at all. You can see the era that influenced her clearly, but to me her writing doesn’t feel dated at all, it seems very classic.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone. If you enjoy being wonderfully unnerved I think this is the book for you!

I think at this point it is quite obvious that I love her writing, so if you are interested I’ve also done a review of another of her books, We Have Always Lived in The Castle, Here’s the Link if you want to check it out: We Have Always Lived in the Castle- Review. And if you’d like to see my thoughts on Collections of short stories more generally here’s another link! Five Reasons Why I Love Collections of Short Stories

If you have read this book please let me know what you thought of it! Also, if you have read any of Shirley Jackson’s other work I’d love to hear your opinions and recommendations!


Have a wonderful day!



10 thoughts on “Dark Tales by Shirley Jackson–Review”

  1. I also love Shirley Jackson’s works and remember reading and writing a paper about “The Haunting of Hill House” in a college course. I treasure a used book I found at a library sale of “Come Along with Me,” which contains part of an unfinished novel by this author, short stories and lectures. I also enjoy her non-horror writing (although there’s always a sort of creepiness in the background). One good example is “Life Among the Savages,” which she wrote about her children. Although I was mainly an elementary teacher, I taught 7th grade language arts for a few years. My students always enjoyed Ms. Jackson’s short story called “Charles,” with its unique ending!

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