The Ghost Pirates Paperback – 12 Oct 2005
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About the Author
William Hope Hodgson (15 November 1877 – April 1918) was an English author. He produced a large body of work, consisting of essays, short fiction, and novels, spanning several overlapping genres including horror, fantastic fiction, and science fiction. Hodgson used his experiences at sea to lend authentic detail to his short horror stories, many of which are set on the ocean, including his series of linked tales forming the "Sargasso Sea Stories". His novels, such as The House on the Borderland (1908) and The Night Land (1912), feature more cosmic themes, but several of his novels also focus on horrors associated with the sea. Early in his writing career Hodgson dedicated effort to poetry, although few of his poems were published during his lifetime. He also attracted some notice as a photographer and achieved renown as a bodybuilder. He died in World War I at age 40. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
The clever thing here is the sparse account of the 'ghosts' which remain enigmatic and shadowy. It's hard to tell if they are in fact ghosts in the traditional sense or something altogether different. That sense of ambiguity works well and the sparse writing style and lack of detail gave William Hope Hodgson plenty of space to create a sense of eerie, claustrophobic tension. Nothing here is ever really fully explained and there's little if any obvious motive or reason given for what happened and why.
'The Ghost Pirates' is a classic tale of haunting made even more creepy by the ocean setting. The only elements of the story I found disappointing were the cliched 'pirate dialogue' and the differing regional accents given to the characters. Doesn't read so well now but would have been perfectly acceptable at the time of writing and publication.
Pirates of the Caribbean it isn't but this is still a great little story for horror fans.
The story is told as an account by our narrator who sets sail on a packet ship. As the voyage progresses strange things start to occur; shadows seen out of the corner of the eye, ropes coming loose, and then accidents, and fatality. A ship of ghostly appearance initially is seen by one sailor, and then more, as the crew realise that they are up against the ghosts of pirates.
Hodgson shows here his skill at maintaining a tight plot which is to some degree sparsely written, he also uses different dialects for crew members, but by not giving full graphic range to the ghosts he ramps up the tension and suspense. If you like a good ghost story, then this should be right up your street.
Two of Hodgson's four novels eschew dialogue entirely, so it's surprising to find that this one is built around the worried conversations among the sailors, and that the author actually has a very good ear for this stuff. If anything, there is too MUCH naturalistic dialogue, as the repetitions and hesitations of the sailors occasionally hold back the story. Another cavil is that Hodgson's nautical experience leads him to include a great deal of ship-board detail, such as:
"It was much as I had supposed; the spectacle was all right, but the pin had gone out of the shackle, and the shackle itself was jammed into the sheavehole in the yard arm."
Although this stuff adds to the authentic seafaring flavour, Hodgson rarely 'throws any rope' to the reader, leaving this one sometimes a little 'at sea'...
However, Hodgson's disturbing and very original imaginings are at play and the gradually rising menace is very effective, though I found the climax just a little abrupt. (The epilogue, added for realism, is more of a nuisance than a boon.) In Hodgson's books, it is the lot of humanity to pit their resources against forces that can never be perfectly understood, and his refusal to dispel the mysteries he weaves leaves them haunting the reader's mind like ghosts on a ship...
This is from William Hope Hodgson the British writer of the wierd and horrific.One of the best "unknown"writers around.The tale is told by a traumatised sailor and clearly gets over a sense of slowly accumulating dread.The shadow men from the sea are terrifying creations,With Hodgson's descriptive restraint allowing the reader's own imagination to do the scaring.The highlights include frantic nighttime searches in the rigging for missing crewmen,while being attacked and pulled by half-seen hands.Hodgson always surprises and unsettles with his vast imagination,the mist or disturbance of the air which hides the ship from view is memorable.This curtain of mist sometimes opens a tiny bit allowing the men momentary views of other ships in the outside world which does much to confuse and add to the terror.
This is a cut above most scary fiction and shows off Hodgson's particular approach well.The title is bad though,it sounds like a pop-up children's book.Should have been called "The Mortzestus" or "The Shadow Men"
This strikes me as an ideal introduction to W.H.H.Also recommended are The Casebook of Carnacki the Ghost Finder (Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural) and The Night Land
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