My review of Netflix's miniseries adaptation of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House is up at Strange Horizons today. I ended up feeling deeply conflicted about the show. Like many Jackson fans, I was initially dismayed by its decision to rip out the original novel's story and replace it with something in which only a few character names and details are recognizable. Then I was won over by the excellence of this substitute story, and the way it combined supernatural haunting with thoroughly mundane family drama and the effects that unacknowledged tragedy can have on families. And then, as the series's storytelling started groaning as it approached its conclusion, I started to notice how its deviation from the novel reaches much further than changing the plot, to a complete misunderstanding of what Jackson was trying to do with her story, particularly when it comes to gender. The Netflix version of Haunting prioritizes male characters and treats women as tragic victims, which is something that Jackson would surely have strenuously objected to.
Still, I've found that Haunting has lingered with me in the weeks since I watched it (certainly far more than Netflix's other major October offerings, like the third season of Daredevil and the reboot of Sabrina, both of which ended up feeling centerless, and uncertain about their main characters). I'm not sure if I can exactly recommend it, but if you do choose to watch it, you'll find plenty to chew over.
This is also a good opportunity to mention that the Strange Horizons fund drive is running, and with only a week left, is still quite short of its goal. The magazine has continued to do great work in the last year, and in the reviews department in particular, there has been some fantastic writing in 2018: Nandini Ramachandran on The Shape of Water, Maggie Clark on The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt, Vajra Chandrasekera's excellent overview of this year's Clarke Award shortlist (part 1 and 2), Erin Horakova on Netflix's reboot of The Worst Witch, Matt Hilliard on the middle two books of Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series (part 1 and 2), and many others. If you want this work to continue, please consider making a contribution.