Review: The House on the Borderland

The House on the Borderland The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The House on the Borderland was first published in 1908. This is my entry for the Novella category in the Back to the Classics challenge. According to GoodReads it is 156 pages, under the 250 page limit for the category. It is also my second book for the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge ( I  listened to it as an audiobook from LibriVox.

Synopsis: Two guys visiting Ireland find a manuscript in the ruins of an old house. It is a diary from the last inhabitant of the house, an old man who had lived in the house with his sister and his dog. Most of the story is the contents of the diary.

I read, and, in reading, lifted the Curtains of the Impossible that blind the mind, and looked out into the unknown.

What I liked:
* The descriptions! This book is definitely more about establishing a mood than about character or plot.
* The sense of mystery. The house is a “house on the borderland”, a portal to other dimensions. The house is besieged by swine-like monsters, and after that it gets weird. A substantial chunk of the book describes a journey over vast distances of time and space.

Another vast space went by, and the whole enormous flame had sunk to a deep, copper color. Gradually, it darkened, from copper to copper-red, and from this, at times, to a deep, heavy, purplish tint, with, in it, a strange loom of blood.

What I didn’t like so much:
* The time-lapse sequence, showing the end of the solar system, seemed derivative of a similar bit in The Time Machine, published ten years earlier. It was memorable, though, so I can’t complain too much.
* I didn’t notice this when I was listening, but now that I have read some passages it is clear that Hodgson used commas all over the place… this is really excessive, for example:

“A little to my left, the side of the Pit appeared to have collapsed altogether, forming a deep V-shaped cleft in the face of the rocky cliff. This rift ran, from the upper edge of the ravine, nearly down to the water, and penetrated into the Pit side, to a distance of some forty feet. Its opening was, at least, six yards across; and, from this, it seemed to taper into about two. But, what attracted my attention, more than even the stupendous split itself, was a great hole, some distance down the cleft, and right in the angle of the V. It was clearly defined, and not unlike an arched doorway in shape; though, lying as it did in the shadow, I could not see it very distinctly.”

View all my reviews

Published by Beth @ Beth's Bookish Thoughts

This blog is for my thoughts on reading. A couple of my friends on GoodReads have blogs, so eventually I decided to start one myself. I hope to get involved in the book blogging community and become a better reader and writer! I am not accepting copies of new books for review, but I would be interested in new editions or new translations of classic authors. Find me on Upwork (as an editor) in the profile link. From September 2018 to October 2020 I blogged at Blogger.

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