A short novel written by Shirley Jackson and published in 1957. It's the story of four people who go to a notorious haunted house to attempt to prove the existence of ghosts. In the process, they (in particular, the very nervous Eleanor) are preyed upon by something that wants to terrorize and destroy them. Is it a ghost? Or is it just Eleanor's over-active imagination? No one knows for sure...

Jackson's book succeeds because of the skillful subtlety that pervades the story. We never see any ghosts. We hear them -- or something that might be ghostly. There are never any gruesome shocks -- no grand guignol moments. The whole thing is incredibly creepy, and that eerie creepiness sticks with you for years, usually rearing its head before bedtime on cold, windy nights...

It's been made into movies twice -- once in the brilliant and understated "The Haunting" in 1963 and again in the ham-fisted and moronic "The Haunting" in 1999. Rent the first one. Do not watch the second one.