Book #56

The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson

Malice, paranoia and creeping dread lie beneath the surface of ordinary American life in these chilling miniature masterworks of unease.

I was so excited to read these three short stories from the queen of horror, and although they are all fascinating in their own strange way, I couldn’t help but feel they are far from Jackson’s best.

The Missing Girl depicts the chaos which ensues when a young girl goes missing from a summer camp. A bumbling search commences, no one can quite remember anything about her, and the accumulation of odd moments lend a surreal feeling to the whole thing. One I have thought about on many occasions since finishing.

Journey with a Lady takes us on a train ride with a young boy who is disgusted to have a woman come and sit next to him; relatable. As they speak with each other, it becomes clear she is far more than a kind-hearted stranger looking out for him. This is probably the simplest one in the collection, and with no sense of impending doom, just sheer curiosity and fascination.

Finally, Nightmare was the strangest and quite honestly maddening story here. As a woman attempts to deliver a parcel for her employer, she’s followed through the streets and seems to be unknowingly part of some social game. There’s a lot of repetition, and a lot of confusion, but the horror here is the not knowing - why her?

Although there are better Jacksons to immerse yourself in, these are still worthwhile for their look at the odd and unsettling, and would probably work best as a first introduction to Jackson. If you like these, everything else will blow you away.