The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 2 Oct 2008
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Mass Market Paperback
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About the Author
William Hope Hodgson (1877 - 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
The book is actually a bit of a two-fer. Some fishermen on a walk-about find the abandoned ruins of a strange castle-like mansion. Within the ruins they find the remains of an old manuscript. This book is that manuscript; the ruin is the House on the Borderland.
MILD GENERAL SPOILERS. We start with the traditional disclaimer from the unknown author that what he has written may sound mad, but really isn't. From there we learn that the house was abandoned before he moved in, had an evil reputation, and indeed began eventually to creep him out. So far, so good. The story then continues until it abruptly ends. Until then, the author tells two stories that aren't really all that related.
The first story is a general doorway to the pit of hell type story. It's moody, the tension and dread are handled nicely, and the overall effect is along the lines of barricaded-in-the-farmhouse while the zombies try the doorknobs. Perfectly fine, but overwritten and overwrought in an old-fashioned way. I will admit I did a bit of skimming.
The second story, though, is the grabber.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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... Read morePublished on 27 April 2014 by Karampatsas Nikolaos
H.P. Lovecraft cited William Hope Hodgson as one of his biggest influences and it’s not difficult to see why. Read morePublished on 23 April 2014 by Jimbo
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... Read morePublished on 10 Feb. 2014 by Phil Devereaux
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. Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2013 by Jason
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... Read more
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... Read morePublished on 27 July 2010 by Shaw
An extraordinarily imaginative story, and one that was genuinely scary even to one approaching retirement.Published on 21 Jan. 2010 by Dr. H. O'neal