The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson


This is a badly written novella of British cosmic horror, yet I was transfixed. The prose is awkward; the grammar is clunky, there is an over reliance on tiresome adverbs, and the excessive punctuation slows down the pace to a crawl. Reading House On The Borderland (1908) is like walking through treacle – but I read it, rapt, in two sittings.

It is a brilliant but flawed work. Hodgson presents powerful and enduring images of foreboding, decay, and the transcendent. In an epistolary narrative he drags the reader along a muddy and difficult path of prose so that we see compelling vistas of terrible dimensions, populated by inscrutable demigods and abased pig-like creatures. Even further, we are transported through time and space in an enthralling account of the end of the world and universe, in which we reach the author’s conception of the divine.

The book will be appreciated by those who enjoy gothic fiction of castles and old folk tales, as well as weird tales in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft (who came after.) Hodgson is an intriguing writer, beguiling and infuriating, and so it is difficult to rate him precisely. The book is a demanding read but not without rewards.

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