“Kristal said: 5 stars and Favorite
Merricat, oh Merricat, where have you been all my life? Please come sit with me, and bring your cup of tea. But no sugar for me, dear Merricat.
I am totally in love. I think I will be on a reading binge, gobbling up all Ms. Jackson has ever written. And this little book will be going on my list of All-time Favorites.
Vonnie said: 4 stars
"Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!"
These are the taunting words that the village children sing whenever the main character, 18 year-old Merricat, is in town. Merricat and her sister Constance live in the Blackwood house with their sick uncle, Julian. They are isolated from the village because six years ago the whole Blackwood family was poisoned with arsenic and Constance was the main suspect. Uncle Julian was the only family member who survived the arsenic and lives his life by recounting what happened that night. In the meantime, Merricat believes in sympathetic magic and goes around putting talismans to protect the house. When she sees that one of her talismans has fallen off a tree, Merricat then suspects that something bad will happen. Sure enough, their cousin Charles comes to visit and tries to take over the house and the Blackwood fortune.
I greatly enjoyed the book and I kept giggling at the dark/macabre humor.
Lisa B said: 4 stars
This book is about a girl named Merricat and her sister Constance, who was acquitted for the murder of the rest of their family. Merricat and her sister (and their uncle) live together and rarely interact with the others in their village. Merricat has a very dark, twisted, and disturbing mind and likes to think nasty thoughts about those who intrude upon her and her sister. The book was very engaging and a quick read.
I debated between 3, 4, and 5 stars for a while. I settled on 4 stars for more personal reasons than anything else. I really wanted more background to why Merricat was the person that she was. I think more information isn't really necessary to the story, however, I am a therapist and I work mainly with teenage girls, and I am insanely curious about why people turn out the way that they do. I really wanted to know more about Merricat's relationship with her parents (wow that is such a therapist thing to say!). One of my client's is very similar to Merricat (she thinks about decapitating people when she is mad) and because I couldn't turn off my work brain while reading the book, I now can't stop thinking about what happened to her that she is so hostile towards everyone except her sister. Anyway that happens once in a while, as much as I try, I can't get out of "therapist mode" and now I am left wondering why about this character.
Nicole D said:
LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
There is something very special about this book. It's dark, mysterious, funny, moody and so cleverly written. I don't know what more to say, the whole time I was reading it I just kept thinking "I love this book ... OMG ... I love this book."
2011 Favorite for sure!
Erin S said: 3.5 stars (round to 4)
The less you know about this novella, the better. Merricat, her sister and their uncle live in near isolation in their home after the death of the rest of their family. They are hated by the townspeople, so they have chosen to stay hidden in their home.
This short book was unlike anything I have ever read. The story was often slow and somewhat boring, but that was a great contrast to the knowledge that something was going to happen. Jackson showed her talent by creating that sense of foreboding and slow revelation. I wish it had been longer to develop the characters more, but it was a good, creepy, and psychological story.
Ellen R said: 3 stars
Constance and her younger sister Merricat (Mary Katherine) live in the Blackwood manor with their elderly Uncle Julian. A terrible tragedy occurred 5 years earlier when the sister's parents, their younger brother and Julian's wife died of arsenic poisoning. Constance was accused and acquitted of placing the arsenic in the sugar bowl and when the family had sugar with their berries they were fatally stricken. Julian had consumed a tiny bit of the arsenci and survived but in a weakened and wheelchair bound state. The Blackwood girls have cut themselves off from society but society does not have much use for the murderess and her sister. Cousin Charles insinuates himself into the sister's lives trying to draw Constance back out into the world but also trying to avail himself of the vast fortune he knows is in the house. Merricat is adamant about removing Charles from their lives and takes drastic measures to accomplish his ouster.
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did since it seems to be a favorite of so many Shelfari members but I just thought the sisters were beyond weird. Their loving relationship was nice and the care they took of Uncle Julian was touching. I suppose being the object of society's suspicions and hatreds would make anyone a bit dotty after awhile but it all was a bit extreme. It wasn't bad; just not quite what I expected.
Raspberrymocha55 said: 3 ★s
Generations have lived in Blackwood Hall, a huge gothic mansion at the edge of the village. However, only three remain, Merricat, Constance and their Uncle Julian. The rest of the family died one fateful night. Constance had been acquitted of the murders, and the murder of her family remains a mystery. This little remnant of a family lives by very rigid rules, outcasts of the suspicious villages. Then one day everything begins to change. I love Jackson's writing style. I enjoyed the book, but felt very let down by the ending.
Thus, I gave it a 3 ★ rating.
LibraryCin said: 4 stars
18-year old Mary Katherine (Merricat), her sister Constance, and their Uncle Julian live in a big house close to a village. However, Julian is not well, and Constance never leaves the property, which leaves Merricat to get groceries in the village once a week. Unfortunately for her, she and her family are either shunned or bullied by the villagers.
This started off really strong for me. I didn't like the middle quite as much, but it also ended on a high note. Had it kept up on the stronger note all the way through, I would have rated it higher and it could have been in contention for a favourite for the year. However, it was still very good. A little creepy and more and more secrets were revealed as the book went on...
Book Concierge said: 4****
Eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine (Merricat) Blackwood narrates this story of her family’s isolation due to past scandal. She, her older sister Constance, and their Uncle Julian are all that’s left of the family living in the manor house on the outskirts of the village. Every Tuesday and Friday Merricat walks into the village to visit the library and grocer. She’s the only family member who ever leaves the estate, so she bears the brunt of the villagers’ cruel teasing. Then one day cousin Charlie appears at their door, having come “for a visit,” and his involvement changes everything.
Merricat is definitely in her own world – she buries objects around the property as talismans to protect her family, insists that she will take them all to the moon where they’ll happily live in a paradise, is sure that some people are demons or ghosts. Constance is an enigma – seemingly serene and unflappable yet a self-imprisoned recluse. And poor Uncle Julian is a wheelchair-bound invalid whose mind constantly relives the final day his family was intact.
This psychological study of a disturbed family is a short quick read but still offers a rather full exploration of distorted thinking. The tension is based on not knowing how things will turn out; the reader is constantly waiting for something dreadful to occur and even when things go badly the reader knows this can’t possibly be the end of it. The result is a suspenseful read without gore or graphic description. Even when the book is finished, I’m left anxious and in suspense.
Kentucky Reader said:
Audio narrated by Bernadette Dunne
This is the story of two sisters. One is clearly mentally ill and violent thoughts constantly run through her mind. One seems normal -- except for her agoraphobia. One or both may be a mass murderer. The rest of the family, except for an elderly uncle, died at the dinner table of poisoning. The uncle is a little bonkers himself, constantly reliving the last day the others were alive, taking notes and planning a book. The sisters have a touching fondness for him. The feeling of impending doom is helped along by taunting villagers and an interloper who is clearly up to no good.
This is definitely an interesting book. I usually like psychological fiction, so I expected, and wanted, to like this a lot, but it was just so-so for me. I did enjoy much of it, especially as tension built just knowing that something bad was going to happen and wondering what it would be, but then I got bored.”