Republished by Penguin in 1990
My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantegenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.
We Have Always Lived In The Castle is one of those books I have been meaning to read since I started blogging and I eventually got around to it at the end of last year. I had completely forgotten to review it as it was on my husband's iPad and unless a book is left in front of me to trip over, I will completely forget it.
The novel is told in first person by Katherine, an unusual young girl who lives alone with her sister and her uncle. The rest of the family died of poisoning six years ago. Katherine's sister, Constance was found not guilty of killing them, but others still believed that she was responsible. The family are spurned by the rest of the town and Katherine is often taunted by the male villagers when she visits the town in order to shop for food.
You feel such empathy for the small household, each still suffering in their own way for the events of the past.
Katherine (fondly known as Merrycat by her sister) is a rather strange young girl. She treads a very thin line between fantasy and reality. She clearly has a leaning towards OCD, as she believes that she must carry out different rituals constantly to keep her little world safe. She is very protective over her sister and despises any interference from well wishers.
Uncle Julian is still disturbed by the deaths of the rest of the family. He is unable to move on from what happened six years before. He dwells hourly on the events of the day preceding their deaths and the finite details of their last meal together. It is almost a macabre obsession.
Constance suffers with agoraphobia. Feeling shunned by the world and treated like a criminal, she hides away from the world, relying on her younger sister to be her eyes and ears to the world.
I found this book to be unusual yet fascinating. I was expecting to read a scary book, but I found it to be rather bizarre, but bizarre in a good way, as I really did enjoy it. I suppose the story could be considered scary in one sense if you consider how nasty and evil the villagers become and what lengths they will go to destroy other lives to ease their own minds.
The language was very descriptive, allowing you to easily transplant yourself in their world. The plot was unusual and kept me wanting more.
On the whole a brilliantly bizarre look at the darker side of human nature.