Tag Archives: Shirley Jackson

Bedtime Stories: 9 Magic Wishes

Post by Mark T. Locker.

9 magic9 Magic Wishes by Shirley Jackson. Illustrated by Miles Hyman.

Shirley Jackson is best known for her short story works for adults, most notably, “The Lottery” which is a dark, intense, and wonderful dystopian tale with a remarkable twist. What not many people know (I certainly didn’t) is that she wrote a few books for children as well. The only one I have read is 9 Magic Wishes which is not dark at all but magical and weird and wonderful. The opening sentence sets the scene perfectly: ”Today was a very funny day. The sky was green and the sun was blue and all the trees were flying balloons.” A young girl is visited by a magician in a tall hat with stars. He offers her nine wishes. Each of her wishes is a beautiful thing to behold, like a little box, and inside that is another box, and inside that is another box, and inside that is an elephant. And a tiny little zoo of live tiny animals. The rich and color-saturated illustrations are done by Miles Hyman, who is Shirley Jackson’s grandson. He seems to have a bit of his grandma’s talent for capturing the magical and remarkable.

There isn’t any real point to the story other than being lovely and fun. The magician comes, the girl makes wishes. She only uses eight, because what else could she possibly want? and the magician leaves the last one under a stone. If you are looking for a story to make your little one’s dreams as rich and fantastic as can be, look no further.


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Bedtimes Stories: Scary Haunted House Books for Adults

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson and Hell House by Richard Matheson.

Happy Halloween, everyone! Here are two similar but very distinct haunted house novels. Hill House and Hell House, besides having quite similar names, have similar premises (no pun intended!). Each features a scientifically-minded individual engaging in an empirical study of a well-known haunted house.

Hell HouseIn Hell House, Dr. Lionel Barrett is invited by a wealthy eccentric to spend a week in a notoriously haunted—and dangerous—house with two mediums to gather definitive proof of the paranormal. In this case, the site is known as the Belasco house, named for the former owner, a horrifically depraved and evil man named Emeric Bellasco. Many lives were lost in the house and many angry spirits remain. Every attempt to reside in and study the house has ended in death. Dr. Barrett is convinced he can end the whole thing using technology. Florence Tanner, a spiritualist and mental medium, wants to connect with the spirits and put them to rest. Benjamin Franklin Fischer, a physical medium, visited the home as a teenager and hopes simply to get through the week alive. 


hill houseThe Haunting of Hill House is by Shirley Jackson,  a well-known author, most notably of her chilling short story “The Lottery”. Like Hell House, this story is based around a science-minded professor spending time in a haunted house with a couple assistants hoping to gather concrete proof of the supernatural. This story is built more around the characters, especially Eleanor, one of the young women staying with Dr. John Montague. Unlike the Belasco house, there is no particular set of event that makes the house so awful, rather it seems the house itself is malevolent. Its forces get into the characters minds and exploit their weaknesses.

Both are spooky and enjoyable books, though Shirley Jackson’s superb writing style and brilliant subtlety of narrative flow through the novel make it seem creepier. You never see a chair fly across a room, which somehow makes the whole thing scarier. Matheson’s book, however, highlights the darker parts of the human soul and the icky depths some people descend to. Either one will make you shiver in your bed as you read.

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