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The House on the Borderland (Penguin Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 2 Oct 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (2 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141038748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141038742
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 1.7 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 474,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By D. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Sept. 2010
Format: 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).
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Format: Kindle Edition
I'm a Lovecraft man through and through. Let's trek to the Mountains of Madness. Let's dive deep into the Cthulhu mythos and see what we find. I even like many of the homage-style reimaginings. But sometimes you need a break from Lovecraft's style and preoccupations. And that's where this little gem comes in. Written in 1908, this story, and Hodgson's larger body of work, left an indelible impression on Lovecraft, and on many of our best known contemporary writers of horror fiction. Many commentators have observed that Hodgson's work marked the first great move away from typical Gothic fiction and toward a more realistic, scientific, cosmic, "multi-dimensional" sort of horror writing.

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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
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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