Cut off from the outside world by its remote location and shunned by all who know its forbidding and sinister reputation, Hill House has remained empty and silent except for the daily visits of its grumbling caretaker, Mrs. Dudley. Its isolation is broken by the arrival of Dr. Montague, an investigator of supernatural phenomena who has been granted a short lease by the present owner. His mission is to delve into the morbid history of the house and to come to grips with the occult forces that have made it uninhabitable for many years. He is joined by three others, all unacquainted, but all having their particular reasons for accepting Dr. Montague's invitation to share his Hill House sojourn. Their visit begins with jovial informality, but their sensibilities are soon jolted by strange and eerie occurrences. As they struggle to to disguise their mounting fears, they are joined by Dr. Montague's wife and a friend, who have come to Hill House for purposes of their own. They too are absorbed by the supernatural, but their approach is via direct communication with the departed spirits—a type of psychic research which is regarded fearfully by Dr. Montague and which, as subsequent events bear out, brings on a crisis in which the evil forces of Hill House are goaded to a new and, for one of those present, fatal fury.