This essay examines Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, texts featuring sentient house hauntings. The author focuses on how the family unit in each text undergoes drastic destruction, arguing that the breakdown of the family is the true source of horror in such hauntings where a traditional ghost is not present.
“You’ll finish [reading] and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. […] Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you’ll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. […] And then the nightmares will begin.” – Johnny Truant, introduction to House of Leaves