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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 20 Sept. 2010
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
I had this book on my "to get" list for a while, but it took this particularly well produced edition by Penguin to finally grab me and I'm glad it did, because it is an interesting and unusual story and for the most part, a cracking good read. The Penguin edition is well produced, printed on nice paper and properly typeset, not an OCR'd version of an earlier edition (though can someone tell me why, when the series has on overall yellow design, they are called "red Penguins?)

Like other reviewers I'm finding it hard to discuss "House" without spoilers. So the abbreviated review is this: scary, atmospheric and troubling, though perhaps a bit saggy in the third quarter. Worth getting.

Now for the spoilers - stop here if you want!

OK. The story is told by a nameless narrator, living in a remote house in Ireland with his elderly sister. Following a landslip that exposes strange caverns under the house, it is besieged by devilish human-pig creatures (though we don't really know that they are evil - and and our narrator did shoot first!). Between the assaults, the Narrator himself is plagued by out of body experiences. In the first of these he is taken to an alternate world where stands an analogue of the House. When the House is beset by the pig creatures, the analogue suffers the same assaults. The attack on the House is one of best and most convincing parts of the book, genuinely scary, and underlined by the way in which the sister, Mary, is seemingly unaware of the attack. Is the Narrator losing his reason? Are the creatures real? We are never sure.

In another extended episode, the Narrator witnesses the ageing of the Universe and the end of the world (as understood, perhaps, by late 19th century science). This is one of the less successful parts of the book. It goes on rather too long and there is too much purple prose. One can see the proto Lovecraft here, perhaps (HPL himself is quoted approvingly on the book's cover). But this section is still a tour de force of early science fiction, truly ambitious in its conception and worth sticking with. When it ends, things get nasty, very nasty, in short order.

I really enjoyed this book, although there is a little of The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (Oxford World's Classics) about it - too many diverse weird events (glowing green monsters, the out of body stuff, the pig-creatures, the end of the Universe, mysterious caverns and trapdoors). In the end there are no certain answers. We are left wondering what really happened, and why. That's OK by me - much spookier than a neat resolution - but a bit more of a unifying theme might have helped. But it is a good read and those pages really turn once it gets going! Probably best to enjoy in one sitting, by a log fire, with most of the lights out and a storm outside - but it worked for me on a Chiltern Railways commuter train in daylight, so the writing must be pretty good.

As a footnote, the Penguin edition gives a short biography of William Hope Hodgson who died in the Great War, in April 1918, at the age of 41. Only one death among many, I know, but very sad.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visionary masterpiece, 15 May 2010
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This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Willam Hope Hodgson was a remarkable character who was one of the fathers of the Weird Tales generation of the early 20th Century. His literary legacy is large and varied but The House On The Borderland is generally acknowledged as one of his finest works. It's certainly one of the strangest.

The book, for the most part, takes the form of a manuscript found in the ruins of an ancient house. The manuscript's author reveal the incidents leading up to the houses ruination. And so follows a book of two distinct part. In the first a fairly straight forward Gothic horror with strange swine faced monsters but this eventually mutates into the bizarre head trip through space as the narrator explains how he travelled through time and space, literally to the ends of the earth.

It's clear to see how this vision of cosmic horror amidst distant nebulae influenced the likes of H.P. Lovecraft but at the same time the roots of this book in the Gothic tradition are also clear. What we are reading here is nothing less than the evolution of the Horror novel.

The pace and tension in the first part of the book are remarkable given it's age. This is a book that reads well despite it passing it's 101st birthday recently. The second part is more difficult. It's remarkable in many ways for the sheer vision. It's like a cross between the Wizard of Oz and the ending of 2001 but it's perhaps just a bit too long.

All in all though this is a true classic not only was it a pioneering book at the time but it remains a valid and enjoyable read today. Despite all the gore which has immunised us over the years, all the repetitive plots and tropes, this book still manages to stand out as a visionary masterpiece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mindboggling Cosmic Horror from 1908, 15 Jan. 2010
By 
MarkusG "Markus" (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
If you like Lovecrafts more mindboggling and cosmic horror stories, like 'The Shadow Out of Time' or 'Mountains of Madness', you will probably appriciate 'The House on the Borderland' by William Hope Hodgson. Sure, Lovecraft liked Hodgsons writing and mentions him in his essay 'Supernatuiral Horror in Literature' along with Hodgsons other classic: 'The Night Land' (1912).

The story shouldn't be discussed too much in advance. Lets just say that most of it is in the form of a manuscript found in the ruins of a mysterious house. The manuscript is written by the former owner of the house. We learn that this is no ordinary house. Just like the blackout the professor got in Lovecrafts 'The Shadow out of Time' was no ordinary blackout. Far from it. Saying more will just spoil the reading experience.

On the Penguin pocket ('Red Classics' series) from 2008: I like the design, but I think as part of a series of horror literature it could have included a more detailed introduction of Hodgson.

Strongly recommended to anyone who likes Lovecraft, horror, fantasy or science fiction, or just the unusual and strange.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An almost forgotten writer and a true classic. A must read for all Lovecraft fans, 23 April 2014
This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
H.P. Lovecraft cited William Hope Hodgson as one of his biggest influences and it’s not difficult to see why. The framing device of a narrator and his discovery of a lost diary, astral projection and monstrous god-like beings which inhabit the distant stars – remote and incomprehensible – all play their part here.

Even though the book was published in 1908 it still remains an engaging and vivid work. The sense of menace is overpowering. The threat begins with strange swine-like creatures that attack his home but soon expands into a cosmic horror surpassing old H.P himself for it is more vivid and explicit than anything the gentleman of Providence, Rhode Island ever wrote. There is also an incredible scene where time speeds up to an impossible degree. Some critics have argued this section owes much to H.G. Well's Time Machine. If it does then it far surpasses the original.

House on the Borderland is a short work but somehow leaves the reader feeling they have just read a much longer, epic work. It is one of the most striking books I've ever read and has left such a deep impression in my already overactive imagination that I'm compelled from time to time to revisit it. I've read this one now at least four times.

But one word of warning, don't expect any answers or indeed explanations. There aren't any.
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5.0 out of 5 stars High Strangeness, 24 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
The first time I read this, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. I've recently read it again, and I have to say I much preferred it second time round.

As people have already described, the book takes the form of a manuscript which has been found by 2 friends holidaying in Ireland. The manuscript apparently tells of how a nameless Narrator and his sister were menaced by weird 'swine-things' that emerge from a pit, before an odd interlude where he seems to travel in his mind to the end of the universe.

I say 'apparently' and 'seems' because I do wonder if all this was just in the Narrator's head. And certainly his sister seems to be more frightened of him and his behaviour than any of the 'swine things' attacking the house. It's an open question how real or not the events are that the book doesn't attempt to anwer, but it is something to consider.

House on the Borderlands also reminded me of the more recent House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, in that the house in question seems to be linked up to different points in time and space, and possibly other dimensions too. I'd say it is more successful than House of Leaves in that it took far less time to achieve a sense of unease and uncanniness, and that it is written in a more direct, engaging style, while I found the 'narrative within a narrative' in House of Leaves actively got in the way of telling the story.

House on the Borderlands is often compared to Lovecraft, and it is through HPL that I discovered it in the first place. But again, it doesn't suffer from the purple prose that can often undermine HPL.

One final thought, I did wonder if the far future the Narrator travels to was the same future as that in The Night Land. I have to say I've never been able to finish that, but there were some similarities at least.

House on the Borderlands is an otherworldly place that is definitely worth a visit.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic tale of cosmic horror (with added swine-things ...), 29 Oct. 2009
This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a strong candidate for being the best of William Hope Hodgson's books. Before H. P. Lovecraft began his 'Cthulhu Mythos', Hope Hodgson offered up a very Lovecraftian vision of a house which is besieged by evil forces and which somehow comes adrift in time. The main narrative is a fragmentary story from a recluse whose house is built over a pit whence strange creatures emerge at night. As the story progresses, time speeds up outside the house and the recluse gets an accelerated tour through aeons of future history, including a memorable progress through a pantheon of ancient or extinct gods. In its way, this book is a near-perfect fusion of horror and science-fantasy, combining as unsettling a vision of the universe as the best of Lovecraft with the scope of the best of H. G. Wells. If there's such a thing as the 'Hope Hodgson Mythos', this is its key text. (This Penguin edition only reprints 'The House on the Borderland' itself but it's a well-produced edition and a great introduction to Hope Hodgson.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best, 17 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Not only the best gothic horror I've ever read, but the best horror.

Not only that, this is a superb work of fantasy and a brilliant piece of science fiction in terms of the cosmic imagery and the (spoiler) journey to the end of the universe.

Stories about Hodgson himself are marvellous- that he held the record for keeping Harry Houdini tied up, and others.

True, this book suffers from dialogue of its age that seems silly now, but it is breathtakingly good.

I wish I were reading it again for the first time, it's so good.

Most of his others are rewarding, some hard going like "The Night Land", but WHH is unjustly neglected. The 1980s NEL edition of THOTB has the definitive swine-folk image to me. You can find a full audiobook at Librivox.org.

There is also an out of print graphic novel. The drawings are fantastic, but I dislike elements of the updating of the story-notably some rather incestuous parts, and the cosmic wonder is largely lost, so it's good to have as well, but it's not a substitute.

The House on the Borderland. Absolutely fan damn tastic. Not possible to over-praise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, 27 April 2014
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This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Hodgson's imagination is fascinating however, the structure of his writing is flawed. If you really want to enjoy the book you have to forget the commas and semicolons, and go on with the flow and power of the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The House on the Borderland, 10 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
William Hope Hodgson was a man living in the wrong place at the wrong time.His truly visionary work would have been more easily acceptable if it was written two hundred years later than it was.What other works of visionary genius did his tragically early death deprive the world of.It's sad that his correspondant H.G Welles is more widely known and appreciated than the genre bending Hodgson.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars House on the Borderland, 27 July 2010
This review is from: The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
Atmospheric at the very least, a nice easy read and a nostalgia tour for myself having read it once a decade ago, if anyone out there wants a book for the weekend/ holls and likes a suspense type mystic/horror then this is the one i reckon :)
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The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics)
The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) by William Hope Hodgson (Mass Market Paperback - 2 Oct. 2008)
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