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The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, Fiction, Horror

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The House on the Borderland (1908) is a supernatural horror novel. The novel is a hallucinatory account of a recluse's stay at a remote house and his experiences of supernatural creatures and otherworldly dimensions. American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft listed The House on the Borderland and other works by Hodgson among his greatest influences and Terry Pratchett has cal The House on the Borderland (1908) is a supernatural horror novel. The novel is a hallucinatory account of a recluse's stay at a remote house and his experiences of supernatural creatures and otherworldly dimensions. American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft listed The House on the Borderland and other works by Hodgson among his greatest influences and Terry Pratchett has called the novel "the Big Bang in my private universe as a science fiction and fantasy reader and later, writer".


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The House on the Borderland (1908) is a supernatural horror novel. The novel is a hallucinatory account of a recluse's stay at a remote house and his experiences of supernatural creatures and otherworldly dimensions. American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft listed The House on the Borderland and other works by Hodgson among his greatest influences and Terry Pratchett has cal The House on the Borderland (1908) is a supernatural horror novel. The novel is a hallucinatory account of a recluse's stay at a remote house and his experiences of supernatural creatures and otherworldly dimensions. American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft listed The House on the Borderland and other works by Hodgson among his greatest influences and Terry Pratchett has called the novel "the Big Bang in my private universe as a science fiction and fantasy reader and later, writer".

30 review for The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, Fiction, Horror

  1. 5 out of 5

    Evgeny

    Another short read between big buddy reads - another miss; details follow. Two guys found some ruins in an isolated spot in Ireland (I strongly suspect such places do not exist anymore). The place was gloomy, oppressive, and just plain spooky. The only thing to find - other than stones - was a manuscript which content makes up the whole story except for the first and last chapters. So the manuscript's author bought this house and moved in. After some time paranormal events began taking place. Th Another short read between big buddy reads - another miss; details follow. Two guys found some ruins in an isolated spot in Ireland (I strongly suspect such places do not exist anymore). The place was gloomy, oppressive, and just plain spooky. The only thing to find - other than stones - was a manuscript which content makes up the whole story except for the first and last chapters. So the manuscript's author bought this house and moved in. After some time paranormal events began taking place. There were three different ones constituting separate stories with fourth uniting them all. I would not go into details, but the second one was completely unexpected and the third one we only get to see in short fragments are that portion of manuscript was destroyed. When I started to read I only knew that this was one of H.P. Lovecraft's inspiration. Sounds good, right? The first two comments that come to my mind after finishing are: what a letdown and such a waste of potential. As a horror writer Lovecraft beats the crap out of this. Even if I can see the influence and there are a couple of interesting ideas the whole tale falls flat. Speaking about inspirations I am willing to bet William Hope Hodgson was in turn inspired by H.G. Wells as I found a passage in this book taken practically verbatim from one of Wells' work - I will not tell which to avoid spoilers. I am not sure what people of the early twentieth century considered to be scary. Later on they were kept scared by communists, these days a simple mentioning of terrorists or pedophiles makes people completely lose their marbles. Anyhow the book has neither and thus is not scary at all; it is mostly boring with the biggest positive trait being its (small) size. My verdict: it is not completely hopeless, but I would not miss anything in life by not reading it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Very interesting, I at first thought that he was influenced by Lovecraft, but Hodgson predates Lovecraft! Weird, creepy, with some long slow periods, but entertaining and thought provoking. I can see how many artists since have been influenced and of course this may be a generational influence for the genre. The time lapse sequence is DECADES ahead of its time.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    In an isolated area of West Ireland, far from big towns or roads and crowds, there was a huge unwanted house, that the local people from the nearby little village of Kraighten, said was haunted, the time before the dawn of the Twentieth Century, apparently more than a score of years then. Two strangers came to the seldom visited territory, since the natives don't speak English, and the the outsiders can't communicate in Gaelic, there is a little problem. But it doesn't matter, the two have plent In an isolated area of West Ireland, far from big towns or roads and crowds, there was a huge unwanted house, that the local people from the nearby little village of Kraighten, said was haunted, the time before the dawn of the Twentieth Century, apparently more than a score of years then. Two strangers came to the seldom visited territory, since the natives don't speak English, and the the outsiders can't communicate in Gaelic, there is a little problem. But it doesn't matter, the two have plenty of food and equipment for their fishing vacation. Finding a small river and the fish are biting, all is good. Sleeping in their tent, nothing to worry about, just wait for their driver to come back, in a couple of weeks,fun in the sun, relax, get away from the hectic life of the big city. How wrong can you get! One day following the stream down for a change, in the direction of the sea it vanishes before them. The men look around puzzled, finally see a mist, thick, hiding the surroundings with many rainbows caused by the Sun's rays, and come to a massive pit. Strange rumbling noises are heard, something's wailing below, the men have found the river as it flows to the bottom of the chasm, a hundred feet underneath. Going further around they arrive at an immense, gloomy, desolate and now dead garden of fruit trees. A short distance away, the deserted ancient creepy house, that has almost fallen into the pit, the two brave young men go inside to investigate, everything's a wreck, dust, debris scattered everywhere in the rooms in what's left of the mansion, that hasn't descended to the bottomless gigantic hole. Digging with their bare hands, the outsiders soon discover under all that dirty garbage, a large manuscript that is mostly intact... Reading the pages by candlelight, after going back to camp across the cursed woods, in their small cramped tent the fishermen stay up all night, the two can't help it. The tale is that of an unnamed old man, and his sister Mary. He has bought the odd house, very cheaply, doesn't ask many questions and stays away from the locals , they think him mad. His food is brought monthly to his home, the lonely man has his faithful dog Pepper, to keep him company. Quiet Mary, is the elderly housekeeper and the years slowly go by without trouble, until unwisely but understandable curious , the old man takes a look inside the pit, weird sounds had come from the unseen bottom. With his rifle and dog along, in the dark endless tunnel, Pepper is badly bitten by a hideous swine thing , that walks on his hind legs. After many adventures in the pit, the old man runs for his life as a bunch of these creatures, from deep under the surface attack him, if only he can get back home, spotting his sister he yells at her, to go to the house she complies very quickly, who wouldn't ? Frightening bizarre dreams, visions of a dying Earth follow, real or unreal ? The old man will not leave, he is the bravest man in the world...A novel that is uniquely unusual , for the connoisseur only of this type of entertainment...not a warning but a truism...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karl

    The cover and interior illustrations are by John Coulthart, accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack by Jon Mueller. Not stopping there, Alan Moore contributed a new introduction, while Iain Sinclair is looking after the afterword. Everyone who participated in this project has a passion for Hodgson’s cosmic masterwork. As an added bonus, the book will be fully signed by all contributors. The book is signed by: John Coulthart Iain Sinclair Alan Moore with a facsimile signature by William Hope H The cover and interior illustrations are by John Coulthart, accompanied by a newly commissioned soundtrack by Jon Mueller. Not stopping there, Alan Moore contributed a new introduction, while Iain Sinclair is looking after the afterword. Everyone who participated in this project has a passion for Hodgson’s cosmic masterwork. As an added bonus, the book will be fully signed by all contributors. The book is signed by: John Coulthart Iain Sinclair Alan Moore with a facsimile signature by William Hope Hodgson The accompanying CD is signed by Jon Mueller The package is also accompanied by several postcards and the whole package is wonderfully and strikingly produced. Contents vii - "Fear of a Porous Border:William Hope Hodgson's Liminal Masterpiece" Alan Moore 005 - "The House on the Borderland" William Hope Hodgson 167 - "An Aberrant Afterword: Blowing Dust in the House of Incest" Iain Sinclair 197 - Acknowledgements CD - Track Listing I. From That Strange Source of Light II. The Speed of My Passing Spirit III. Then a Door Opened Somewhere Ahead

  5. 4 out of 5

    bup

    Have you ever wondered what a place would be like where you were outside of time and space, neither dead nor alive? Where you could observe the mechanisms of the universe and see the death of our planet and sun? Where you could commune with souls of the dead in the black, silent sea of sleep? Well, it would be full of adverbs. An infinitude of adverbs. Do you like adverbs? William Hope Hodgson did. Do you like to start sentences with a sudden adverb and a comma? William Hope Hodgson liked that, to Have you ever wondered what a place would be like where you were outside of time and space, neither dead nor alive? Where you could observe the mechanisms of the universe and see the death of our planet and sun? Where you could commune with souls of the dead in the black, silent sea of sleep? Well, it would be full of adverbs. An infinitude of adverbs. Do you like adverbs? William Hope Hodgson did. Do you like to start sentences with a sudden adverb and a comma? William Hope Hodgson liked that, too. I wrote a small app to chew up the Gutenberg version of this book and count the adverbs (just the -ly adverbs), and count how often he dangled them*. Here are some of William's favorites - the first number is the total count of how often he used them in this 27 chapter book, the second number is my rough count of how often he dangled them: slowly - 66, 37 suddenly - 60, 45 presently - 49, 47 gradually - 40, 36 quickly - 39, 19 scarcely - 22, 0 steadily - 20, 10 evidently - 16, 11 curiously - 15, 4 quietly - 14, 9 rapidly - 14, 3 strangely - 14, 2 nearly - 13, 0 cautiously - 13, 9 intently - 13, 6 swiftly - 13, 3 silently - 12, 9 probably - 12, 6 finally - 12, 10 immediately - 11, 6 apparently - 11, 3 dimly - 10, 6 utterly - 10, 0 really - 10, 0 He used many more adverbs than these, of course. He used only 78 times, which should be in first place, but only doesn't slow down the writing much, and doesn't draw attention to itself the way other -ly adverbs do. So I didn't count it. One of my favorites was multitudinously, although he only used it once (not to introduce a sentence, since I know you were wondering). His total counts for modifying verbs, instead of choosing a different verb that may not have required modification: ***drum roll*** 1,277! In a book of 27 chapters! That's 47 per chapter! And he dangled 524 of them! An impressive 19 per chapter! If I ever get swept away from this plane before I slough off my mortal coil, and am tranported to a dark place outside time and space, where I can observe the mechanisms of the universe, neither alive nor dead, and can commune with the souls of the dead in the silent sea of sleep, and I see William Hope Hodgson wading in the black, undampening waters there, I'm going to presently, carefully, slowly, gradually-- or perhaps quickly and suddenly-- but really, literally, soundly, thoroughly-- beat him with adverbs. Multitudinously. *The 'dangling' count was the count of adverbs immediately followed by a comma, colon, semicolon, or question mark. That may have over-counted, but I let him slide on being followed by hyphens, which he did at times. So that helps him a bit. Trust me when I tell you he began many sentences, Adverbly, ...

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Read, write, and study books for long enough, and you'll eventually start to recognize how stories work. You'll find yourself saying things like "Oh, this character's going to die soon because the author just resolved the ongoing tension they had with the hero" or "Ah, the mysterious stranger must actually be the orphan child of the Baron that people keep talking about". To people who don't know how to do it, it seems like a magic trick, but the only thing you need to do is pay attention to deta Read, write, and study books for long enough, and you'll eventually start to recognize how stories work. You'll find yourself saying things like "Oh, this character's going to die soon because the author just resolved the ongoing tension they had with the hero" or "Ah, the mysterious stranger must actually be the orphan child of the Baron that people keep talking about". To people who don't know how to do it, it seems like a magic trick, but the only thing you need to do is pay attention to details and to ask yourself "where is this story going to go next?", and it becomes surprisingly obvious. Anyone who has read one of those endless 'Cthulhu collections' which contain one story by Lovecraft, two by the editor, and the rest by nameless authors knows that horror stories are particularly prone to follow certain patterns. If the character finds a big, carven stone gate in a cave, you can bet he's going to go in there and discover some weird, ancient stuff. If the old farmer won't let him see the barn, you know there's something bad in there. And at first, reading The House on the Borderland, one of the all-time classic works of supernatural horror, I thought I had things pinned down pretty well. We ease into a familiar old 'evil creatures' story for the first third, with our main character getting more and more weirded out by all the strange things happening around his old house. However, if you'd asked me to predict the rest of the book based on the beginning, I wouldn't have come anywhere close. Suddenly we're wrapped up in time and dimensions, in a kind of grand metaphysical horror that seems to be completely removed from everything that happened before, and it's only at the end that it all finally comes back around and the reader is able to piece together just what has been going on. Usually, early, influential works in a genre are fairly straightforward--often, they are fumbling, as the author tries to figure out what it is they are trying to say. Hodgson's story, on the other hand, is more wild, imaginative, and unfettered than any modern horror tale I've read. It really stretches the limits of the reader's comprehension, and leaves behind many intriguingly incomprehensible images. It is sometimes a bit slow-going, though nothing like the plodding repetition of his other well-known book, The Night Land . Indeed, the whole setup of House on the Borderland plays much better into Hodgson's habits as a writer. Hodgson was a weird dude, and he's at his best writing unstable, unsettling characters rather than idealized heroes and saccharine romance. There is also the problem that some of the horror elements seem a bit silly. Of course, if you saw them in real life, in the flesh, they would be terrifying, but Hodgson isn't always able to bring home to the reader the pure weirdness of it, to shake us up enough that we are able to see it with fresh eyes. That's something every great horror author must be able to do in order to be effective, particularly in the early parts of the story, where seemingly normal but odd things are slowly building to a head. However, many of the ideas and images Hodgson gives us are perfectly unsettling on their own, without any need for an intermediary. If I was ever concerned that the supernatural elements I put into my period horror stories are 'too strange for that era', I clearly need not worry. No one is going to out-weird Hodgson any time soon--nor, I think, do any other living writers provide much of a threat to his well-earned reputation.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Char

    This is a story about an ancient manuscript found by two men on a camping trip. The manuscript actually is the story. I'm not going into the plot itself as the description already does that, but I did want to mention a few things. The story was a bit slow to start out, and there was a long sort of boring out of body experience. Even though I found this part a bit long winded, I can see the seeds of Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos within.(Lovecraft has said that William Hope Hodgson was a big influence This is a story about an ancient manuscript found by two men on a camping trip. The manuscript actually is the story. I'm not going into the plot itself as the description already does that, but I did want to mention a few things. The story was a bit slow to start out, and there was a long sort of boring out of body experience. Even though I found this part a bit long winded, I can see the seeds of Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos within.(Lovecraft has said that William Hope Hodgson was a big influence on him). After the protagonist returns to his body things go bat-shit crazy. There are some phenomenally scary scenes and wild things going on. Then, another long interval (another OOB experience?) that was just weird. I enjoyed this section because it really delved into space. The amount of knowledge displayed by this author about our solar system and how it works is amazing since this book was written in the early 1900s. All in all though, I enjoyed this story. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Lovecraft.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

    Well, that was odd. I'm using odd as a fairly neutral term, here. This story was bizarre, but not in a way that was thought-provoking or funny. AS a whole the story never really went anywhere. (Seriously, why even include a lost Love if she only gets a couple paragraphs?) It had mildly interesting bits, and the swine-things were creepy. The cosmic descriptions were too long and got boring, but otherwise, it was okay, I guess. The strange, isolated house, the mysterious crevice, and the atmosphere Well, that was odd. I'm using odd as a fairly neutral term, here. This story was bizarre, but not in a way that was thought-provoking or funny. AS a whole the story never really went anywhere. (Seriously, why even include a lost Love if she only gets a couple paragraphs?) It had mildly interesting bits, and the swine-things were creepy. The cosmic descriptions were too long and got boring, but otherwise, it was okay, I guess. The strange, isolated house, the mysterious crevice, and the atmosphere of dread and suspense surrounding them were the strongest part. I read this because it was a major influence on Lovecraft and some other fantasy authors I like, so in that sense I'm glad to check it off my to-read list. I've also read a couple of Hodgson's Carnacki stories and they were a bit better although still on my "waste of a good concept" list. What's up with early horror writers narrating everything post facto so there's no suspense?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    Here's how I feel about William Hope Hodgson generally: Writing as he did at the beginning of the 20th century, Hodgson's creativity in the realm of supernatural horror is impressive given what few authors preceded him in the genre. Although he wrote many stories that partook of elements common to supernatural fiction of his era (i.e.,most of his short stories, including the Carnacki stories), he also broke new ground. Moving beyond the ghost stories which had, for the most part, made up the genr Here's how I feel about William Hope Hodgson generally: Writing as he did at the beginning of the 20th century, Hodgson's creativity in the realm of supernatural horror is impressive given what few authors preceded him in the genre. Although he wrote many stories that partook of elements common to supernatural fiction of his era (i.e.,most of his short stories, including the Carnacki stories), he also broke new ground. Moving beyond the ghost stories which had, for the most part, made up the genre before him, he created landscapes and creatures that feel not just super-natural but really extra-natural, coming from a completely different reality, either unrestrained by morality or subject to a construction so alien as to be unknowable, that is just recognizable enough to be terrifying. Hodgson's landscapes and creatures are very similar to the Cthulian creations of H.P.Lovecraft, a later admirer of Hodgson, in that they are gigantic in their physical and temporal dimensions. His universe is far older and larger than human and earth-centered histories allow, and subject to forces and intelligence completely removed from human concerns or anthropomorphized deity. If Hodgson worked merely as a set designer or painter of still images he would have been difficult to match. However, he wrote narrative prose and this choice of medium is his downfall. Hodgson couldn't write a human character to save his life and the pacing of his stories is excruciatingly slow. Although female characters in stories from this era and genre are typically pretty flat, Hodgson's are so flat as to be almost unrecognizable as human. His male narrators are almost unidentifiable emotionally, never demonstrating much fear or empathy for others. The inaccessibility of his characters robs Hodgson's stories of much of the fear that the other elements enable. Finishing a Hodgson novel is an exercise in endurance. The good elements are very good and the bad are horrible. The House on the Borderland: The creatures, the demons in the mountains, the cavern, the trapdoor were excellent. The protagonist was bizarre and uninteresting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    knig

    This book is two stories, jointly and severally independent of each other, spliced together haphazardly in the middle and left trailing off into nothing doing at the end, almost as if Hodgson had ‘ tinkered, tailored, soldiered, spied’ to his content, and finally got so bored of the whole melange he just left the tangled mess of shards on the floor and walked. The first part sees an ageing recluse, ensconced in a ‘haunted’ house (every village in Ireland has them), battling a horde of swine –men- This book is two stories, jointly and severally independent of each other, spliced together haphazardly in the middle and left trailing off into nothing doing at the end, almost as if Hodgson had ‘ tinkered, tailored, soldiered, spied’ to his content, and finally got so bored of the whole melange he just left the tangled mess of shards on the floor and walked. The first part sees an ageing recluse, ensconced in a ‘haunted’ house (every village in Ireland has them), battling a horde of swine –men-thingies who dwell in pits and channels underneath the house. If there is any mention of Lovecraft being influenced by this book, this must be this section that did it: in ‘The Lurking Fear’ Lovecraft somehow manages to come up with the novel idea of a haunted house on a hill, underscored by by tunnels and channels and overridden by whitish monkey-thingies. Now, where have I read that before?.... Whereas Lovecraft comes up with an ingenious explanation of the origin of his thingamadgits, Hodgson sees no reason to go into such details. Who, what, where, when....these trifling questions are not to bothered with. Swine men, I tell you. What more do you want to know? One interesting snippet here: why is the protag’s sister so frightened of him at one point? The second part is a psychedelic journey into time travel, which begins promising and turns stale, a little like a houseguest who’s outstayed their welcome. The sun, the moon, the stars, the orbs.....for over half the book, planets seem to be whizzing around in some macabre dance: again, to no discernible purpose. And then.....Nothing. The end. I understand this book has its die-hard fans. And, its not necessarily a bad read. Just a little too all over the place, don’t know whats goings, suspect Hodgson doesn’t either, loose endy for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I am a great "fan" of H.P. Lovecraft...yet in most cases when I read books or works from authors that are credited as influences on him, I'm not that taken. The same is true here. The young men arrive in the village where they aren't exactly welcomed...and eventually find themselves in the sinister house in the sinister place reading the sinister manuscript. Apparently the writer had at some point suffered a very bad experience with pork... The book does manage to build a certain amount of darkn I am a great "fan" of H.P. Lovecraft...yet in most cases when I read books or works from authors that are credited as influences on him, I'm not that taken. The same is true here. The young men arrive in the village where they aren't exactly welcomed...and eventually find themselves in the sinister house in the sinister place reading the sinister manuscript. Apparently the writer had at some point suffered a very bad experience with pork... The book does manage to build a certain amount of darkness and despair into the atmosphere, but in the end it left me cold and I skimmed my way through it. I don't know, possibly I'm a bit jaded...still, it's not horrible (wait a minute...given the type of book this is it might have been striving to be "horrible" in one sense, do you think?)...anyway, I've read worse. I'll go 2 stars instead of 1.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Gransden

    I can see why this was taken up by the psychotropic vanguards/bores but don't let that put you off. This is a borderland experience that dismisses any self-conscious aggrandising notions of bursting though those doors of perception. Indeed, any doors are, as someone else said about this, representations in allegiance with Platonic Form. The plot bookends the central bulk of the narrative; a manuscript relayed through a mystery editor. The manuscript is found by two Victorian guys on a fishing tri I can see why this was taken up by the psychotropic vanguards/bores but don't let that put you off. This is a borderland experience that dismisses any self-conscious aggrandising notions of bursting though those doors of perception. Indeed, any doors are, as someone else said about this, representations in allegiance with Platonic Form. The plot bookends the central bulk of the narrative; a manuscript relayed through a mystery editor. The manuscript is found by two Victorian guys on a fishing trip, in the ruins of a house that are placed on a craggy outcrop, overseeing an abyss. One reads the manuscript to the other. Then the transreal fun begins. Things happen, many of them spooky and beholden to classic horror, some swine flavoured and raging with terror and absurdity, but mostly the preternaturally cosmological drifting of the senses which is a pleasure to fathom and glide alongside. For those willing to invest their space and time in a ride through pure imagery as the outpourings of a recluse's soul, this is it. The vistas on offer, if you wish to surrender, transcend the surreal, pulling this away from its horror roots and into the realm of slipstream fiction. This is the first book in a long time that I've wanted to turn back to Chapter One and start all over again as soon as I'd finished. Grand.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Hodgson's influence on Lovecraft, and many other writers of weird fiction, is apparent from the start. Borderland opens with a couple of guys on fishing trip in the wilds of Ireland. The setting reminds me a bit of Blackwood's The Willows, with its forbidding wilderness, but also of Dracula's opening, with its nearly alien town folk, who seem to know the land is diseased, bad. Soon a ruined house (mansion?) is stumbled across, and part of a manuscript (I love evil books and manuscripts). But all Hodgson's influence on Lovecraft, and many other writers of weird fiction, is apparent from the start. Borderland opens with a couple of guys on fishing trip in the wilds of Ireland. The setting reminds me a bit of Blackwood's The Willows, with its forbidding wilderness, but also of Dracula's opening, with its nearly alien town folk, who seem to know the land is diseased, bad. Soon a ruined house (mansion?) is stumbled across, and part of a manuscript (I love evil books and manuscripts). But all of this merely brackets the real story -- which is captured in the manuscript. And what a weird story! Whatever sins Hodgson commits with his prose, he makes up for with a Grade A imagination. Swine things that walk upright, a siege, a brave dog, a yawning pit, and then an out of body experience that seems to last forever (five or six chapters worth). It also reminds me of the ending of 2001 (which I don't like). AND THEN, it shifts again, back to the house, and another poor dog, and a big swine thing. I'm not totally sure what's going on here. It doesn't totally mesh, though I did pick up on Paradise Lost, and Dante's Divine Comedy. So is it a religious allegory? Maybe, but if so, it's a muddy one. My advise to not try and figure it out, and enjoy the genuine weirdness of Hodgson's creation.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    The similarities of this novel with the atmosphere and the writing style of Lovecraft's stories were palpable. However, in Hodgson's work, the horror was more realistic and quite intense.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Arinn Dembo

    “From the Manuscript, discovered in 1877 by Messrs Tonnison and Berreggnog, in the Ruins that lie to the South of the Village of Kraighten, in the West of Ireland. Set out here, with Notes…” It is closing in on a hundred years since this classic work of eerie fiction was first published, and even a century removed I’m still not quite sure what to think of it. The House on the Borderland is one of those titles which comes up naturally in the course of one’s education in horror; the book is menti “From the Manuscript, discovered in 1877 by Messrs Tonnison and Berreggnog, in the Ruins that lie to the South of the Village of Kraighten, in the West of Ireland. Set out here, with Notes…” It is closing in on a hundred years since this classic work of eerie fiction was first published, and even a century removed I’m still not quite sure what to think of it. The House on the Borderland is one of those titles which comes up naturally in the course of one’s education in horror; the book is mentioned often, always with a tantalizingly vague description, by several sources. The reader has the nagging sense that she ought to track it down and read it some day, just to see what everyone is talking about, especially as Hodgson’s name always arises as a notable author who never quite seems to get his due. “The book almost certainly influenced Olaf Stapledon’s The Star Maker,” one critic will say. And then H.P. Lovecraft chimes in: “Perhaps the greatest of all Mr. Hodgson’s works…” It was with some pleasure, then, that I discovered this old and oft-rebound book in the data base of the Vancouver Public Library System’s electronic catalog. It took only a few keystrokes to have it spirited to my local branch from its obscure corner of the city’s widely dispersed stacks. “And the M.S. itself—You must picture me, when first it was given into my care, turning it over, curiously, and making a swift, jerky examination. A small book it is; but thick, and all, save the last few pages, filled with a quaint but legible hand-writing, and writ very close. I have the queer, faint, pit-water smell of it in my nostrils now as I write, and my fingers have subconscious memories of the soft, ‘cloggy’ feel of the long-damp pages.” Having now read the book from cover to cover, I find myself somewhat bewildered; whatever I expected from this book, I most certainly didn’t get it. The House on the Borderland, despite its great antiquity, is one of the weirdest books that I have ever read. Structurally, this is a nested narrative; the center rests within two consecutive framing devices. This “Chinese box” motif is one that I often see in older gothic fiction, and it gives me some pleasure to see it done well. Antique stories are not unlike antique furniture, in some ways; the craftsmen of former ages had their own way of building a functional object, and it is pleasant sometimes to run my hands over the fine old things they made, and marvel at the cunning way things were fitted together. Hodgson (the author), poses as the editor of this work in his introduction, claiming that he has produced the published work that you hold in your hands by transcribing what was written by others. This is the outer frame of the story. The inner frame is a tale of two outdoorsy young men on a fishing trip in Ireland, vacationing in an untouched region where the people still speak nothing but Gaelic and the villages and rivers cannot be found on any map. While exploring these two men come upon the ruin of an old house, strangely perched on the lip of a huge crater; among the tumbled stones they come across an old journal, and the contents of this journal make up the main body of the book. And here is where the bewilderment sets in. The main narrative of House on the Borderland is extremely bizarre. The writer of this journal is a nameless old curmudgeon, who bought the strange old house in the woods when it was still intact. The place had a bad reputation with the locals, but it was quite cheap, and offered him all he could want in the way of isolation and quiet. So he lived in the massive, rambling manse with no family and no servants except for his elderly sister and a faithful old dog. All of this is sketched in within a few pages; Hodgson takes no time to establish an ordinary routine or explore the characters in ordinary circumstances. He simply shakes the reader’s hand and then pounces, leaping out of the ordinary into the fabulous without hesitation. Literally, by the ninth paragraph, we are yanked feet-first into a realm beyond the boundaries of ordinary consciousness and space-time, clinging to the shirt-tails of the hapless narrator as he finds himself dragged bodily into an eerie dreamscape which reminded me inevitably of Carlos Castaneda. With him we float disembodied over a vast silent plain, then drift into a range of dark mountains, and are brought at last to a huge natural amphitheater where the brooding peaks form circular walls. There the towering death gods of countless religious traditions stand frozen, looming over this place like undead statues for all eternity. And in the center of it all, an eerily huge copy of his own house in Ireland stands, built of green jade but otherwise similar in every respect to the building he calls home. Does it get stranger from here? Most definitely it does, but I have no interest in spoiling it for those who haven’t read the book already. Suffice it to say that the narrator does return to the ordinary waking world within a chapter or two, and tries to get on with his alarmingly believable “real” life. But the way this strange and largely unwilling visit to another realm begins to creep into his mortal affairs is genuinely horrifying. This isn’t a book that merely creeps up on you, tickling the back of your neck with a cold feather. There are times when the old man is engaged in a genuinely desperate struggle for his life and his sanity, against enemies that tear and claw and leave corruption in the wounds they make. You forget entirely, as you read, that he had to have survived these battles in order to write about them; Hodgson has you by the throat during those passages, and his grip is strong. But there are also long, minutely described chapters which recount the old man’s visions and experiences in realms far, far beyond the waking world. Strange silver seas, from which rise the spirits of our beloved dead. Dreadful eternities blinking by in seconds, until our sun is a cold cinder and the gases of our planet’s atmosphere have frozen and fallen to earth as snow, leaving the sky airless and black for the rest of time. All in all, The House on the Borderland has the feel of “addict fiction”, the kind of works which can sometimes be written by authors who experiment heavily with mind-altering drugs. Samuel Taylor Coleridge sometimes has this kind of eerie power, and Byron touched upon it once with his poem “Darkness”. William S. Bourroughs can show this kind of imaginative abandon at times, as well, and I have seen it often in art created by men and women who took frequent “trips” on LSD, peyote, or psychoactive mushrooms. Please understand that I do not presume to guess at Hodgson’s personal habits in this regard. I haven’t read his biography, if one has been written, and there are obviously some writers, like Lovecraft, who achieve these states of mind without any chemical assistance whatsoever. I merely point out that regular doses of a powerful alkaloid can send an artist in this direction; Hodgson’s book is “trippy” in the extreme—and it’s a very bad trip at that. I can certainly see a heavy influence on the weirdest of the weird fiction written by men like Stapledon and Lovecraft. I can even see a dim connection between some passages of this book and the eerie extended sequence at the end of Stanley Kubrick's classic film 2001; there is the same sense of scope, of willingness to grapple head-on with the infinite. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who fancies himself a scholar of weird fiction, especially those who think that Lovecraft’s “Dreamlands” stories are his best work. It’s also worthwhile for those who can appreciate finely made antiques, or very deep, very bad acid trips. An object lesson for those who want to know what the word “original” really means, when applied to a work of fiction: after nearly a century, I assure you, The House on the Borderland still stands alone.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    3.5 / 5 Recommended to me by The Gentleman From Providence himself, HP Lovecraft, this is, like many of Lovecraft's, one of those Was The Author Mad stories. It happened that just as I began this, a smoke detector in my building, in an apartment I have no access to, began chirping loudly day and night, begging to have its battery changed. I've reported it countless times over the past week but have yet to see any resolution. The chirping is rhythmic and over very little time could serve to drive 3.5 / 5 Recommended to me by The Gentleman From Providence himself, HP Lovecraft, this is, like many of Lovecraft's, one of those Was The Author Mad stories. It happened that just as I began this, a smoke detector in my building, in an apartment I have no access to, began chirping loudly day and night, begging to have its battery changed. I've reported it countless times over the past week but have yet to see any resolution. The chirping is rhythmic and over very little time could serve to drive someone out of their blessed mind. So it was that I found myself it just the right frame of mind to partake in what may well be another man's loss of sanity. At times the writing was a morass of can't see the forest for the trees. There would be pages of detail, yet the overall idea or scene still seemed to confound because the density of the description really didn't serve to enlighten the reader about what was being conveyed. Musings of a troubled mind? Okay, that could be, but for the sake of the story it could have been fleshed out a bit, especially since there already so many words to convey so little. But, as I read the thing that excited me most was how stark a blueprint this short text was to be, admittedly or not, on stories by Lovecraft, Stephen King (at times this was like The Lonesome Death of Geordie White, which itself had to have also been influenced by Lovecraft's Colour Out Of Space), and most beguiling, House of Leaves. I've yet to finish Leaves but the editorial comments and the overwhelming mood within the proverbial house where much of the story takes place served to bring scenes of Leaves flaring back to me at lightning speed. Maybe I've been affected by reading conditions, but for its faults, grammatically or narratively, this is still one I would readily recommend to anyone who digs weird fiction, both old and new

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ubik

    Man what potential this had! The formative story of the two vacationers was a decent startup and I absolutely loved the beginning of the manuscript, but then it fell flat and never came back for me. It was so descriptive and creepy in the beginning, but then it meandered into a mega-long description of the passing of time. I found myself reading and then skimming just to get past that portion. There were also elements of the story that came and went out of nowhere leaving me scratching my head. Man what potential this had! The formative story of the two vacationers was a decent startup and I absolutely loved the beginning of the manuscript, but then it fell flat and never came back for me. It was so descriptive and creepy in the beginning, but then it meandered into a mega-long description of the passing of time. I found myself reading and then skimming just to get past that portion. There were also elements of the story that came and went out of nowhere leaving me scratching my head. I found it very anticlimactic and there were really cool parts of the story that were just never fully explored or extrapolated on. I really wish I could have liked this more than I did.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    William Hope Hodgson's first published novel, "The Boats of the Glen Carrig" (1907), is a tale of survival after a foundering at sea, replete with carnivorous trees, crab monsters, bipedal slugmen and giant octopi. In his now-classic second novel, "The House on the Borderland," which was released the following year, Hodgson, remarkably, upped the ante, and the result is one of the first instances of "cosmic horror" in literature, and a stunning amalgam of sci-fi and macabre fantasy. An inspirati William Hope Hodgson's first published novel, "The Boats of the Glen Carrig" (1907), is a tale of survival after a foundering at sea, replete with carnivorous trees, crab monsters, bipedal slugmen and giant octopi. In his now-classic second novel, "The House on the Borderland," which was released the following year, Hodgson, remarkably, upped the ante, and the result is one of the first instances of "cosmic horror" in literature, and a stunning amalgam of sci-fi and macabre fantasy. An inspiration for no less a practitioner than H.P. Lovecraft, the book really is a parcel of malign wonders. Once read, it will not be easily forgotten. I myself read the book for the first time some 20-odd years ago, and it has stayed with me ever since; a recent repeat reading has served to remind me of just why. "House" takes the form of a found manuscript that had been written by "an old man" (we never learn his name, although he is one of the spunkiest, toughest, bravest old men imaginable) living in a very mysterious house in a desolate area of western Ireland. A recluse, living only with his elderly sister and his dog, Pepper (an animal who proves to be one of the gutsiest, loyalist pets you've ever encountered), he writes of the increasingly outre experiences he has recently undergone in this strange abode. We learn of his bizarre vision of a larger but identical house on some distant planet, watched over by the hideous gods and goddesses of Earth's past. In the manuscript's most exciting section, he tells of his battle with the "Swine Things" that besieged his home, and of his subsequent exploration of the great Pit from which they had emerged. In a segment that takes up almost half of his history, the recluse tells of his incredible voyage through time, space and dimensions, a journey that almost makes me wish that I had read this book in college, while under the influence of some psychotropic substance. This mind-expanding section boasts a sequence in which time superaccelerates, and Hodgson's descriptions here will surely bring to mind (and manage to outdo) the forward-traveling segment of the 1960 film "The Time Machine," with its rapid-fire sun/moon transitions. Hodgson's description of the last days of our planet and solar system, with a dead sun hanging ponderously in the sky over a frozen Earth, are almost as effective as H.G. Wells' in his "Time Machine" novel of 1895, with that author's dead, oily sea and (come to think of it) some crab monsters of his own. The recluse's cosmic journey after Earth's demise, and his visit to the Green Star and the "celestial orbs" (Hodgson's conception of heaven and hell?), are as mind-blowing, surely, as the "star gate" sequence in 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey," and perhaps more meaningful. And any book that manages to rival Wells' and top George Pal and Stanley Kubrick in the cosmic spectacle department can't be all bad, right? I used the expression "perhaps more meaningful" just now, and that "perhaps" might represent, for many readers, a significant drawback of "The House on the Borderland." For, although we are shown glimpses of many mystifying wonders in the recluse's tale, Hodgson does not deign to explain one of them. The origin of the Swine Things, the meaning of the counterpart House on another planet, the cause of the hermit's cosmic journey, the reason for the destruction of the House and many other conundrums remain mysteries by the book's end; not just open to interpretation, but practically demanding some sort of explication on the part of the reader. I'm not usually a fan of such open-ended stories (for example, the writers on the hit TV series "Lost" had better tie up every last loose end or I am going to be mighty P.O.'ed!), but here, it works somehow, only adding an aura of cosmic inscrutability to an already awe-inspiring affair. Hodgson writes simply in this novel, forgoing the pseudo-archaic 18th century English of "Boats" and the hyperadjectival, baroque language of 1912's "The Night Land," but still seemingly can't resist the urge to play with the language a bit. For example, I've never read a book with so many unnecessary commas, as in this sentence: "For, a time, I mused, absently." But again, this affectation works, only increasing the strangeness quotient of the book. Not for nothing was "The House on the Borderland" chosen for inclusion in Newman & Jones' excellent overview volume "Horror: 100 Best Books." Read it today for the awe and the shudders, and then tell me in the year 2030 how well YOU remember it....

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    I decided to start and read some older books that I have never heard of before. Going for the fantastical and horrific I came across The House on the Borderland. At first this book was splendid with an air of mystery and horror that I had not expected. I even had nightmares about the pig men that arrive. Not expecting a nightmare from a novel written so many years ago I eagerly devoured the rest of the book. What was left was an eerie cosmic voyage that almost ruined the novel for me. I am unsur I decided to start and read some older books that I have never heard of before. Going for the fantastical and horrific I came across The House on the Borderland. At first this book was splendid with an air of mystery and horror that I had not expected. I even had nightmares about the pig men that arrive. Not expecting a nightmare from a novel written so many years ago I eagerly devoured the rest of the book. What was left was an eerie cosmic voyage that almost ruined the novel for me. I am unsure why the remainder of the novel diverged so much from the perfect set up at the start but overall I have to give this book a hearty recommend. If nothing else than to experience the strangeness and unreality of the whole and the maybe if get a few nightmares from the pig men.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jean-marcel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. From the moment I saw the poem "Shoon of the Dead" that adorns the beginning of the text, I knew I was in for something very special. While there have been many commentaries written about the novel, claiming it to be "weird, trippy, imaginative, obscure", I don't think many have really been successful in coming to terms with the metaphysics underpinning the text and finding the thread of reason among the often-assumed-to-be random occurrences and astral journeys that befall the protagonist in th From the moment I saw the poem "Shoon of the Dead" that adorns the beginning of the text, I knew I was in for something very special. While there have been many commentaries written about the novel, claiming it to be "weird, trippy, imaginative, obscure", I don't think many have really been successful in coming to terms with the metaphysics underpinning the text and finding the thread of reason among the often-assumed-to-be random occurrences and astral journeys that befall the protagonist in the House. Or perhaps, people are too distracted by the novels occasionally awkward, lapidary style of prose, or are simply unwilling to expend the effort necessary to fit all the pieces together. I see a lot of criticism that goes along the lines of "the first part of the book is very gripping but the long section of time/space excursion doesn't seem to have much to do with anything, and what's with the pointless romance element?" People seem baffled by the protagonist's desire to stay in such a strange house, forgetting, seemingly, that he's been completely overwhelmed and stricken by grief, and that the house, as strange and terrible as the journeys his form undertakes may be, is the only gateway that allows him to once again touch that which he has loved and lost. Hodgson doesn't dwell on the "lost love" angle too much, and if he had the maudlin sentiment would have overwhelmed the sense of stark horror and strangeness which is, admittedly, at the centre of this work. Of course, the Borderland itself is not only a gate to a far, distant future, but also to the realms of the dead, and by allowing the house to bring him out of our reality repeatedly, he has attracted the attention of the fiends who live on the Other Side (I believe in his astral journey this is connected with the Black Sun). While his loved one has reached the tranquil Sea of Sleep and has been promised peace of a sort, the protagonist has no such luck; he's gone where he should not, and the ending suggests that his fate is to become one of the swine herd that besieged the house. hodgson wrote a story called "The Hog", which features his psychic investigator Carnacki trying to help a man who suffers from recurrent dreams of being in the amphitheatre surrounded by Swine things and becoming more and more like them. In this story Carnacki explains some of the nature of these "demons" and why they seek to impinge upon our world. It's not as good a tale as House on the Borderland, mostly because I find Carnacki as a character to be a bit insufferable, but the explanations could be useful for those trying to pin some kind of logic to The Borderland. Though this book may seem to lack direction or to lose focus, everything in its pages is there for a reason and the events in their order do make sense, if you are of a particular mindset to look for the clues. Mostly, though, I recommend this novel if you want something that will mystify, and at times chill you to the bone. While the writing is far from perfect and the characters mere canvas, the mood and atmosphere of House on the Borderland reigns supreme, and you will not find much like it anywhere in literature. Visionary, psychedelic and terrifying.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    W. H. Hodgson (1887–1918) holds the record for tying up Harry Houdini the longest: it took the magician/escapologist two hours to untangled Hodgson's unusual and intricate knots. This talent for the unexpected and perplexing carries over into Hodgson's fiction, which dazzles the reader with its imaginative brilliance and bizarre twists and turns. The House on the Borderland (1908) is one of the eeriest – and trippiest – books I've ever read and enjoyed. Hodgson tells the story of a recluse who ha W. H. Hodgson (1887–1918) holds the record for tying up Harry Houdini the longest: it took the magician/escapologist two hours to untangled Hodgson's unusual and intricate knots. This talent for the unexpected and perplexing carries over into Hodgson's fiction, which dazzles the reader with its imaginative brilliance and bizarre twists and turns. The House on the Borderland (1908) is one of the eeriest – and trippiest – books I've ever read and enjoyed. Hodgson tells the story of a recluse who has retired to a remote house on the west coast of Ireland to mourn the loss of his Beloved. With only the company of his sister and faithful dog, the narrator – whose sanity we begin to question almost from the start – finds himself caught up in technicolor dream-visions in which he traverses enormous distances and eons of time, beholding evil incarnate and eventually witnessing the death of the universe. Returned from his forays into the astral plane, the recluse finds his home besieged by luminous pig-like creatures who creep out of from the depths beneath his house at night. The ensuing battle and the recluse's exploration of Swine-Things' lair are wonderfully suspenseful. I read The House on the Borderland last night as the winds howled around our little seaside house and the waves crashed threateningly on the beach. Every few minutes I cast a quick glance out the window, expecting to see a Swine-Thing gazing back in at me! Today, in broad daylight, the horror of the pigmen seems laughable; but still I find Hodgson's Dantescan portrayal of the physical reality of Heaven, Hell and evil just as haunting as his fanciful depiction of the pig-creatures. If you enjoyed The House on the Borderland, you may also like Hodgson's first novel, The Boats of the 'Glen Carrig' (1907), in which 18th-century sailors battle sea monsters and man-eating trees. And if you're familiar with Algernon Blackwood's detective John Silence, you might also enjoy Hodgson's Carnacki, the Ghost Finder (1913), a sleuth who uses his psychic powers to test and often debunk ghostly hauntings.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Terence

    I think Caleb's review (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22...) of William Hodgson's The House on the Borderland pretty much sums up what I felt reading this novel. You can easily see the influence Hodgson may have wielded on H.P. Lovecraft's cosmos, where the best humankind can hope for is indifference from the great powers of the universe. What's missing is any breath of "soul." Even if the universe couldn't care less, at the very least the reader should be able to identify with the characte I think Caleb's review (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22...) of William Hodgson's The House on the Borderland pretty much sums up what I felt reading this novel. You can easily see the influence Hodgson may have wielded on H.P. Lovecraft's cosmos, where the best humankind can hope for is indifference from the great powers of the universe. What's missing is any breath of "soul." Even if the universe couldn't care less, at the very least the reader should be able to identify with the character or feel some of his fear. That is where Hodgson's work fails. Just read "The Dunwich Horror," "The Thing on the Doorstep," "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "The Colour Out of Space" or "The Dreams in the Witch House" to see how an author can create that oh-so-necessary sense of terror these stories require. As an aficionado of Lovecraft, I enjoyed the book as a curiousity but it was overlong and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Encompassing a tale from a discovered manuscript in a really strange far off place...

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    First, I'm amazed no one has seen fit to adapt this novel to film. Second, I've read this novel multiple times since I bought the 35-cent Ace Books edition at a drugstore in Mayville, NY when I was 13. You never forget it. Now, if you were to combine H. P. Lovecraft, Julio Cortazar (his story "House Taken Over" may have been inspired by this book) with the siege mentality of "Straw Dogs" or "I am Legend" (book, not movie) you would have "The House on Borderland." Written over 100 years ago befor First, I'm amazed no one has seen fit to adapt this novel to film. Second, I've read this novel multiple times since I bought the 35-cent Ace Books edition at a drugstore in Mayville, NY when I was 13. You never forget it. Now, if you were to combine H. P. Lovecraft, Julio Cortazar (his story "House Taken Over" may have been inspired by this book) with the siege mentality of "Straw Dogs" or "I am Legend" (book, not movie) you would have "The House on Borderland." Written over 100 years ago before the first World War, THOTBL ranks alongside E.A. Poe's only novel, "The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym," as one of truly unique, if not seminal, contributions to the horror genre. The compelling first-person narrative of this story is that of an elderly widower, presented in the form of a "manuscript" penned by said widower. The manuscript is found by two English gents on a fishing holiday in the ruins of a house perched on the edge of a seemingly bottomless chasm. A river pours into said chasm in a roaring cataract which drowns out all other sounds and adds to the creepiness of the location -- which is somewhere in the "wilds" of western Ireland near a village called Kraighten. The "vibe" (in modern parlance) of this place is scary. Realizing they need to beat feet from this spooky location, the gents repair to their campsite and spend the night reading the manuscript -- the account of the narrator's discovery of and subsequent conflict with "swine" creatures who seem to have emerged from the river chasm beneath the house, whose intentions and interest in the house he never grasps other than that they are evil and dangerous and mean him no good. The "action" in the story (i.e., the siege of the house by the swine creatures) tends to sag in the middle of the novel as the narrator's mind/spirit one night embarks on a nightmarish "out of body" journey. During this interlude he floats as a passive observer to an unexplained dimension of time and space where the house also exists in the middle of a barren plain. There he witnesses the apparent death of the solar system and encounters an uber, even more demonic, swine creature who is also trying to get into the house on the plain. What does this all mean? Is the house itself taking him to this "place" and for what purpose? Who the hell knows? Returning to his present time/place, the swine threat rises to a new level of intensity, in the course of which we learn more about the structure of the house and its cavernous cellars and less about its provenance or significance as the venue of what appears the focus of undefined evil intent -- all of this while the narrator's mounting terror and helplessness build to its climax. While the story is compelling you're left with many questions -- which make for great discussions among aficionados of this book -- none of them satisfactorily explained by the text, even after multiple readings. I guess that's the mystery of the house and the manuscript - some things just have ragged edges and defy literary exegesis. "Thin Places" - Why set in Ireland? There is a concept in Celtic mythology (now incorporated into Celtic Christianity) known as "thin places." These are allegedly places in Ireland (and other parts of the British Isles) where two worlds conjoin, almost like a portal from this world to another, allowing us to be in the presence of the divine -- in Christian culture, the presence Holy Spirit, even Jesus Himself. When I first heard about this, I immediately thought: "The House on the Borderland!" I don't know if Hodgson actually was thinking of the concept of "thin places" (the House is in a remote, unpopulated area of Ireland, near a river (a "classic" thin place)) and positing one that would be a dimensional doorway between our world and a super- or supra-natural world of hostile and infernal beings. Certainly the title, and the entire concept of the house existing at a dimensional crossroads, suggest that such a conceit might have been on his mind. If so, I'm even more impressed with the imagination that produced this timeless novel. It's not "great" literature, but it's a lot of fun. perfect summer reading with a glass of Irish single malt.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Robert Adam Gilmour

    Not just one of my favourite books but one of my favourite things in general. Powerful imagery, a great setting, heavy atmosphere, some really chilling moments and an incredible sense of scale. I love stories that have a completely unpredictable sequence of events and give a sense that hundreds of bizarre things could have happened. My only real complaint is I wish it were longer and had more creatures of different types. No matter how much more Hodgson could have shown, there would always be a Not just one of my favourite books but one of my favourite things in general. Powerful imagery, a great setting, heavy atmosphere, some really chilling moments and an incredible sense of scale. I love stories that have a completely unpredictable sequence of events and give a sense that hundreds of bizarre things could have happened. My only real complaint is I wish it were longer and had more creatures of different types. No matter how much more Hodgson could have shown, there would always be a sense of many further possibilities. Two common complaints people have: (1) The main character doesn't seem that concerned for the safety of his sister. This is a fair point, for the most part he's guided by his curiosity as if he and his dog are the only ones in the house. There are theories that his sister isn't living the same reality as her brother; before the story starts Hodgson suggests that there's a hidden layer to the story and it leaves room for lots of theories. I really don't like most of the theories I've heard but I'm sure there will be many more. (2) A lot of people complain about the main psychedelic sequence of the book, but I think it's one of the best things in it. This sequence does start very slow but where it eventually goes is thrilling. Wish there were more books like this. None of Hodgson's other novels are nearly this successful. Wish he lived to write so much more, he had so much promise.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tristram

    The House in the Boredomland Okay, the actual title of the novel is The House on the Borderland but if I had been William Hope Hodgson’s editor, I would probably have wanted him to change it in the way indicated above. After all, a reader has a right to know what he is in for. I started this little book with high expectations, having been told that if you like Blackwood or Lovecraft – which I do, though Lovecraft not to the same degree as Blackwood –, this is an insider’s tip. The first chapter st The House in the Boredomland Okay, the actual title of the novel is The House on the Borderland but if I had been William Hope Hodgson’s editor, I would probably have wanted him to change it in the way indicated above. After all, a reader has a right to know what he is in for. I started this little book with high expectations, having been told that if you like Blackwood or Lovecraft – which I do, though Lovecraft not to the same degree as Blackwood –, this is an insider’s tip. The first chapter starts promisingly enough, conjuring up a brooding, elusively menacing atmosphere whispering of the hostility of nature that was redolent of some of Blackwood’s best stories like The Willows or The Wendigo but then the two anglers’ experience only provides the narrative frame for the rest of the tale. The two sportsmen find a mysterious manuscript in the rabble of an old mansion, and what follows is the tale of the recluse who lives there with his elder sister, having chosen this God-forsaken abode after his Beloved had died. The recluse’s story held my interest for the first couple of chapters where he gives an account of his house being sieged by demonic swine creatures that must have found their way into our world as a consequence of a gigantic landslide, and what I really thought interesting was the fact that not only was there no trace left of the attackers’ slain bodies on the morning after their first onset, but also that the narrator’s sister is apparently more afraid of her brother’s behaviour, e.g. his barricading all the doors, than of the swine creatures to which she makes no reference whatsoever. Can it be that our recluse is hallucinating, that he is, in fact, as mad as a hatter? This assumption set me thinking about the strange relationship between the narrator and his sister, who seems to be nothing but a better – since unpaid – housemaid to him and with whom he hardly ever exchanges a personal word. After all, the sister seems to be used to her brother’s shutting himself up for days in his study without ever coming out. Granted, one need not be mad to avoid social interaction with one’s sister as much as possible, but on the whole, our recluse looks like someone who is no longer able to entertain dealings with other people and whose mind is slightly out-of-track. This is also borne out by the constant reference the narrator makes to the neighbouring pit and to a trapdoor in his cellar leading into a bottomless depth resonating with hushed-up voices, which can be seen as symbols of inner demons that have to be kept suppressed. Although I enjoy reading stories told by unreliable narrators, what now followed soon made me lose interest completely: The narrator has a strange out-of-body experience and he starts travelling through time and the universe, meeting his Beloved, all of which lasts several chapters and soon becomes boring. Still, I soldiered on and was finally rewarded by seeing the story brought to a close, which left the two anglers wonder if the recluse had simply been hallucinating or witnessing a demonic onslaught. All in all, I could not help admire Hodgson for his imagination because his story was anything but predictable but it was marred, at least to me, by the extensive description of the out-of-body experience of the protagonist. Apart from that, Hodgson’s style, although often compelling, quite often borders the involuntarily funny. Just consider a sentence like this one: ”And then, I would go up to my study, for I knew sleep was out of the question, with the house surrounded by creatures, half beast, half something else, and entirely unholy.” Or take the ending of the recluse’s account: ”I must listen ... There are steps on the stairs; strange padding steps, that come up and nearer ... Jesus, be merciful to me, an old man. There is something fumbling at the door-handle. O God, help me now! Jesus – The door is opening – slowly. Somethi–“ This interrupted last word may be very effective, but are we really supposed to believe that a man hearing some strange presence try to make its way into his room would sit at his desk committing all his observations neatly to paper instead of blocking the door? It is simply funny when you picture him gnawing on his pen hunting for le mot juste while a strange creature rattles the latch. What can be said in favour of stylistic blunders like the ones listed above is that they, to some extent, counterbalance the somniferous effect of the half-a-dozen chapters of time travel through a basically empty universe, but that is surely not what the author might have intended. Since this story was quite short, I will probably give Hodgson another try but if that one fails, too, Hodgson will be marked down for an out-of-library experience.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This book was written in 1907 and was one of the progenitors of horror genre. Two travelers find a strange grimoire in Ireland. The story told in this manuscript has a lot of SF elements, like travel to distant worlds and through the time, meeting strange creatures, looking to old myths with new interpretations, etc. At the same time there is clearly a Lovecraftian feel to it (I actually read very little of him, but the style is similar). I guess the difference between horrors and SF lies not in This book was written in 1907 and was one of the progenitors of horror genre. Two travelers find a strange grimoire in Ireland. The story told in this manuscript has a lot of SF elements, like travel to distant worlds and through the time, meeting strange creatures, looking to old myths with new interpretations, etc. At the same time there is clearly a Lovecraftian feel to it (I actually read very little of him, but the style is similar). I guess the difference between horrors and SF lies not in what is described, but how protagonists react: in horror when encountering, say, an artifact, they are often paralyzed with fear, unable to move, losing consciousness due to fear, etc. In SF they can be afraid but they are more curious what the artifact is, how it works, what its use, etc. An interesting read if you are into the history of the genre, for it is a very influential book. However, for modern reader it can be too melodramatic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Printable Tire

    The first thing that strikes me, about this book, are grammatical, and punctual matters. I read a cheap, mysterious paperback edition, from the 70’s. The editor, for whatever reason, decided to include the bulk of the story, after the initial framing story, in quotation marks. (I mean here the real editor, not the fictitious one that appears halfway in the story to explain in science-mode what the old man means when he seems to speak against the laws of physics, and as a feeble and worn-out attem The first thing that strikes me, about this book, are grammatical, and punctual matters. I read a cheap, mysterious paperback edition, from the 70’s. The editor, for whatever reason, decided to include the bulk of the story, after the initial framing story, in quotation marks. (I mean here the real editor, not the fictitious one that appears halfway in the story to explain in science-mode what the old man means when he seems to speak against the laws of physics, and as a feeble and worn-out attempt to make the narrative seem authentic). The quotation marks were very distracting, as every single paragraph, was in quotes. Usually, when a story like this is framed by another story, the reader can presumably discern, he is getting the main story second-hand. But in this edition, they decided to follow the laws of grammar to the letter, which looks very silly. The quotation marks also brought to my attention, that the story was being read, by the fellow in the framing story. This edition used English spelling, and I know that in English grammar, when someone is speaking, they use only one quote mark, two wit: ‘’. So The use of double quote marks, two wit: “”, meant that the fellow, in the framing story, was reading the entire book, to his friend, the whole time. Which seems, to me, an awfully long thing to read to someone, and an exercise I would find, particularly trying. The sentences of the book, also, follow the customary 19th century syntax, in which every sentence seems to have, to a modern reader, way too many freaking commas, a practice which I have tried to demonstrate, in the passages above. This, also, can be quite distracting, as every sentence, after a while, seems exactly the same, and necessary to be read in a Boris Karloff spooky voice. As for the book itself- I was taken aback that it takes place in rural Ireland, a sort of a stand-in for the Congo of Africa or wherever else such tales usually transpire. I did not trust the old man of the story for one second, and therefore found his story highly dubious. I cannot say why I found him to be so full of shit, other than that he told the whole story in a spooky voice, and seemed to be making it up as he went along. Therefore, I read the story like I would if I discovered a crazy person’s paranoid conspiracy website, as they were both entertaining in the same way. I kept on thinking what his sister thought the whole time, and imagined him as looking and sounding like Jasper Beardly from the Simpsons. So the whole book was sort of like an episode of Treehouse of Horror to me as well. As for the plot, I found the parts with the pig-men (aka “Swine-Things”) to be the best, and not unlike a interactive fiction game like Zork or the Lurking Horror. But when the story entered the Starmaker science fiction part, I found it too abstract and hard to follow, and actually pretty uninteresting. I knew none of the things being shown would ever be explained, and the book began to feel like somebody relating to me a really weird dream he had one time. Well, I’ve heard better, weirder dreams.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Will Macmillan Jones

    Some classic moments A very literary horror story embodying elements that have now become tropes. A slow, creeping dread fills the pad as the visitors to the village explore the supernatural ruins

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    Featured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X6OQ... Although, this novel, features the, most ridiculous use, of the comma, in the English, language, it is impressively effective and fascinating as a horror tale, and a real forerunner of what will become Lovecraftian horror. Alas, there are two plots intertwined in this book, a straight-up horror tale and a more dreamy narrative, and the former is way more interesting, powerful and compelling than the latter; but st Featured in my Top 20 Books I Read in 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X6OQ... Although, this novel, features the, most ridiculous use, of the comma, in the English, language, it is impressively effective and fascinating as a horror tale, and a real forerunner of what will become Lovecraftian horror. Alas, there are two plots intertwined in this book, a straight-up horror tale and a more dreamy narrative, and the former is way more interesting, powerful and compelling than the latter; but still, it's not so much of a problem as to make the book unreadable. A must for any aficionado of classic horror literature, and of the genre in general.

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