Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review: The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

     Two friends decide to go on a camping trip in Ireland. Now, in some cases this can lead to wacky hijinks and Irish jokes. In a horror book, it leads to terrible, terrible things. While out walking, they find an abandoned garden and, farther on, the ruins of a house sitting  on the edge of a large crater. There, they find an old journal, get the creeps, and run back to camp.

     The journal is of the unnamed owner of the house, who lives in the isolated spot with only his sister and his dog for company. He begins experiencing strange phenomena, from strange lights in the house to being somehow transported to a strange other dimension, where his house sits in a large crater and a huge pig-being looms overhead…

     Next thing the poor guy knows, his dog is injured, his house is attacked by pig creatures (presumably from Amnesia), his sister is terrified of him, and his trips to the “outside” become stranger and stranger…

     This was a very weird book. Nothing is particularly explained. We, like the poor narrators and the poor victims, have no clue what is going on, and can only sit back helplessly and watch as events unfold. It’s also an extreme case of an unreliable narrator-when the house is attacked, the man cannot find the bodies of the pig creatures he killed, but he sees evidence of damage. It is strongly implied that his sister doesn’t even see the damage in the house, and from her perspective she is watching her brother lose his mind. (The fellows over at HPLLPS speculated that she too was experiencing weird phenomena that her brother did not-they were isolated from each other by their widely different experiences.)

     There is a sense of loss and melancholy throughout the entire book (particularly when the man seemingly witnesses the end of the entire universe), and it isn’t exactly a pleasant read, but it is a very interesting one.

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