Book #24

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson


Step into the unsettling world of Shirley Jackson with a collection of her finest, creepiest short stories, revealing the queen of American gothic at her mesmerising best. This selection includes 'The Lottery', Jackson's masterpiece and one of the most terrifying and iconic stories of the twentieth century.

I’ve read quite a bit of Jackson over the last few years, and I’ve appreciated her skill for turning the most mundane events, people, and lives, into something creeping and extraordinary. My gorgeous edition of The Lottery held thirteen (we love unlucky numbers) short stories; each of these have contributed to cementing Jackson as one of the greatest of all time.

The Lottery itself truly stood out as an exploration into mob mentality, the clinging on to tradition and ritual, and how a collective, superstitious mindset can cause undue harm. There was something so unsettling as I read through this - Jackson lays out the ritual almost factually, as she builds dread in your shoulders. Utterly barbaric and macabre, and yet not surprising to see the human condition.

Other stand-outs for me would be Mrs Spencer and the Oberons - almost a cautionary tale on being obsessed with societal expectation, and your own self-importance, The Tooth - one I cannot begin to explain but which has been rolling around in my brain ever since she left the dentist’s office, The Order of Charlotte’s Going - cruel, heartbreaking, and one which again depicts the utter senselessness of human behaviour, and The Daemon Lover - filled to bursting with unbearable tension, everything from the emptiness of the apartment to the complete blankness of everyone involved; the final couple of pages were completely horrifying to me.

I could read Jackson every day for the rest of my life if it wasn’t for the goosebumps, the chills, and the utter horror she raises in me. All hail the queen.