The Haunting of Hill House, originally published in 1959 was written by Shirley Jackson, an author whom Stephen King respected. He was quoted by The Guardian as saying, "I know of no other writer in the field who conveys paranoia and spectral dread with more delicacy than she." With such backing by the king of horror himself, it is no wonder that Netflix used the story to created their own series The Haunting of Hill House in 2018. Quickly, the series became popular. This led to the idea to take another classic supernatural novel, The Turn of the Screw, and adapt it to a similar format, The Haunting of Bly Manor in 2020.
While the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House was notably different from the book, they did keep a few ingredients. Aside from the names of the characters being in the series, they used other things taken from the novel.
10 The Cup Of Stars
In the novel, Eleanor (or Nell), our main character travels to the house where she and others will be part of an experiment to observe and judge the supernatural elements of Hill House. Before she gets there, she stops for lunch where she overhears a young girl refusing to drink her milk, demanding to drink it from her cup of stars. The mother tries to convince her to drink out of the plain cup, and then once they are home, she can drink out of her cup of stars.
In her mind, Eleanor tells the young girl, "Insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don't do it." A pretty strong line, it shows that Eleanor (though fragile) has a strong sense of individuality, which is all the scarier when the house takes that away.
In the series, we have Mrs. Dudley saying the same line to young Nell when she finds the tea party set.
9 Mrs. Dudley Doesn't Stay the Night
In the series, Mrs. Dudley is much kinder than in the novel. We understand why she is there helping them: She has a soft spot for children. We also understand the horror she experienced at Hill House, a reason why she won't stay the night.
In the book, Mrs. Dudley comes across as harsh. She reminds each of the main characters that no one will hear them in the night if anything were to happen. Neither she or her husband stay the night, as in the series, but we don't know why. We have very little information about the two, and both Mrs. Dudley and Mr. Dudley don't appear to be likable characters.
8 The Story of the Raining Stones
In the series, this story belongs to Olivia and she tells it to Mrs. Dudley. When her father died, it rained stones. As a girl, Olivia thought she made it rain stones but then brushes it off as a child's way of reasoning. This is the first time that Olivia felt her psychic abilities.
The story of the raining stones draws Eleanor to Hill House in the book. She was chosen for the experiment based on this experience that happened when she was 12 years old. After her father had died, it showered stones on their house, loudly, breaking windows. It wasn't a short shower but continued for a few days. It was suggested that the stones could have come from Eleanor's anger.
7 Theo & Nell Have A Fight
In the series, we learn that Nell and Theo had a fight. Consequently, Theo was the one sibling Nell didn't reach out to before she went into the house. When Nell's body is brought back and cleaned up, Theo feels that she owes Nell, and she touches her. In the series, Theo can see and sense things through touch.
In the book, Theo and Eleanor are also estranged but for a different reason. Eleanor and Theo have become close friends, and Eleanor wants to live with Theo after the experiment is over. Eleanor pushes for this, confiding that she lied about having a home and that she actually sleeps on a cot at her sister's. Theo doesn't want Eleanor to live with her. At this point in the novel, she becomes mean to Eleanor, excluding her, and feeling that Eleanor is needy. When Eleanor goes to leave the house, she doesn't say bye to Theo at first. When she does, Theo is relieved, telling her that she wants to stay in touch and confides that her friendship with Eleanor is important to her.
6 Nell Is Lost & Alienated From the Others
The series has young Nell lost during a storm and older Nell lost in her grief. Her anger and her grief alienate her from others. When she tries to get a hold of her family (all but Theo), they don't answer her calls. Matter of fact, Steve, the oldest, finds her dramatic and doesn't want to be pulled into her troubles again.
In the book, all the characters go looking for Nell. She is in the house alone at night, not in her room with Theo. At this point, she has opened herself to the house and is letting it take control of her. They are fearful of Nell while also being annoyed by her. Each character voices a complaint about her, but underneath it all, many of the characters are concerned by her behavior. They want Nell to leave the house.
5 Sent From the House To Go Stay With Her Sister
When things become worse for Olivia in the house, her husband tells her that she needs to have some time away from the house. Eventually, Olivia agrees and packs her bag to spend time with her sister. Alas, she never makes it to her sister's and comes back to the house.
In the book, the other characters persuade Eleanor to leave, to forget about the house, so that she is not taken by it. They send her to her sister's place. Eleanor feels like they are taking her away from her home, her new family, and everything that ever made her feel special. Eleanor tricks them before she even leaves the driveway, becoming forever a part of the house.
4 The House's Escapades: Banging Walls, Holding Hands, Dogs
In both the novel and the series, the house begins to behave in scary ways. In the series, they keep on hearing loud dogs at night. While in the book, two characters actually chase dogs out of the house. There are no canines, and the characters realize that the house wanted to separate the four in order to have its fun.
The book has Theo and Nell cowered in a room while it sounds like something wants to get in from the other side, banging the door and the surrounding walls. It's loud, yet the other characters don't hear anything until the two heroines start to scream. In the series, this same thing happens, except it is Theo and Shirley.
At one point in the series, Theo thinks Nell is scared and holding her hand too tight. She then realizes that she was alone in the room and asks aloud who was holding her hand. This is similar in the book but flipped. Eleanor and Theo are sleeping in the same bed, and Eleanor thinks that Theo is holding her hand to comfort her. Then she realizes that Theo has been heavily asleep and wasn't holding her hand. It was something else.
3 Nell Dances Around the House
In one of the saddest moments in the series, the house convinces Nell that she is surrounded by all those she loves, including her late dead husband, Arthur. It was clear that Nell loved Arthur a lot, and she dances around the house, feeling that she is in Arthur's arms again.
In the novel, Eleanor is at her worst when she opens herself fully to the house. She comes out of the bedroom, while everyone else is safely behind lock and key. She knocks on every door, and then she dances around the house, feeling like she is being warmly embraced by it.
2 The Writing On The Wall
The house calls for Nell twice in the book: Writing "Come Home" on the wall and the planchette. For the first one, other characters blame Nell. While initially scared, little by little, Eleanor begins to feel special because the house knows her name.
The series has chalk written on a wall in the house saying the same thing. Olivia blames Nell, who insists on her innocence. When Nell comes back to the house, it is her mother, Olivia, writing it on the wall.
Eleanor cared for her mother until she died. Part of Eleanor worries that she intentionally slept through her mother calling for her medicine because she was tired of serving her. Throughout the novel, Eleanor calls out her mom's name. This is not because Eleanor wants her mother to soothe her, but because her mom is what she fears the most.
The mother is the core of the series in many ways. Her children, both love and fear her. When Nell comes to the house, she calls out, "Mom." In reality, Olivia pulls Nell back to the house. Other characters, like Luke, see visions of Olivia.
There are more things that the series took from the novel, such as Poppy's whimsical speech (similar to how the characters talk to each other in the book). So, while Netflix changed a lot, many book elements were adapted.
We are curious to see what the next season will do.