The House on the Borderland and Other Novels by William Hope Hodgson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
House on the Borderland by William Hope Hogson was actually recommended to me by the author Brian Keene. Forgive me for name-dropping but we got into a conversation on his blog not too long ago and Brian told me that this was the book that ultimately got him interested in wanting to be a horror writer. With a recommendation like that, how could I not read it right? The thing about this book that you also need to know going in is that it was written over 100 years ago (1908 to be specific). So the writing is very archaic and "old-english" if you will. This takes a bit of getting used to when you first immerse yourself in the story, but I found that like with the middle-earth books, once you familiarize yourself with the writing style and language, you do get acclimated to it fairly quickly. And now to the plot of the story. House on the Borderland takes place on a fishing holiday in rural Ireland. Two friends named Tonnison and Berreggnog (yes, that's really his name) embark on what they believe will be a relaxing stay in the Irish countryside spent fishing and enjoying the outdoors. However, this brief vacation is soon turned on its head as the friends stumble across the ruins of an old house in the middle of the dense woods. One of the friends is extremely reluctant to explore the house further; however, the other friend becomes obsessed with finding out who lived there and what secrets it might possibly contain. Upon further investigation of the strange dilapidated house, a diary is discovered written by what appears to be the original inhabitant, a person who identifies himself as "The Recluse". This is where the story really begins to become a Lovecraftian and twisted horror tale as the contents of the diary begin to get read. The diary written by The Recluse begins innocently enough, with the daily recording of his life, how he acquired the strange house, and musings about his sister and dog, who also reside there with him. Gradually though, The Recluse starts to record strange visions, possibly hallucinations, where he travels into what can only be described as another dimension. In this other dimension, strange beasts with pig-like faces act as though they can see him, but cannot communicate in any way. This goes on for pages and pages and with each diary entry, the visions become weirder and more aggressive in nature. Couple this with the fact that in this vision is a house that looks identical to the one that The Recluse has just moved into and you have a truly Gothic horror tale that you want to keep reading until the end to find out what the heck is going on. All I can say about this book is that it really surprised me in a good way. I thought that the fact that it was written such a long time ago would render it high on the cheese factor. That couldn't be further from the truth. I can see now why Brian Keene cited this as his inspiration because it truly is a masterwork of horror. Its brilliance also lies in the fact that it doesn't rely on gore to deliver the scares, but rather uses highly supernatural and some might even say science-fiction themes. I really loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves horror, Lovecraft, and supernatural tales of all types. The book isn't very long either - weighing in at just under 200 pages, so it is a quick read. Pick it up and read it, you won't be disappointed.
View all my reviews