It was as if Shirley Jackson's classic novel had been haunting me from the future.
I read about it some decades ago in Stephen King's Danse Macabre, and was desperate to get my hands on it, but it wasn't available anywhere in the UK at the time.
At some point I saw film of the book - 1963's The Haunting - and was reminded again of this maddening original text that was so acclaimed and yet unavailable.
Now, finally reading it in midlife, it's lived up to expectation. It really is that good.
A group of people gather in a haunted house to explore paranormal events. One member of the party, unstable Eleanor, gets sucked in deeper than she expected.
The Haunting of Hill House is so powerful I'm - almost - glad I didn't read it when I was an impressionable young woman. It would have been just one more reason to fear growing up... It would have made me see Eleanors all around me... and even worse I'd have seen Eleanor inside me. There's always one inside and that's why we find these characters so interesting.
But I also missed out one of the most compelling characters in literature and for that I'm sorry. As a writer of horror fiction, I'm particularly sorry. I'm intrigued that apparently Stephen King's iconic character Carrie was in part inspired by The Haunting of Hill House. Eleanor, Carrie - so maladjusted young women make good horror? Hmmm.... now do I know anybody like that? Have I got any stories in that vein? <scratches head emoticon>
Sour and sad and yet exhilarating in its mastery, The Haunting of Hill House is everything it's said to be.