Review of The House on the Borderland (1908)


William Hope Hodgson (writer).

Read in 2022.

Two men on a fishing vacation to Ireland discover the ruins of an oddly shaped building, barely remembered by the locals. In the ruins, they find the journal of a man who lived there with his sister and his dog Pepper at the end of the world.

A perfect transitional fossil. On the one hand, the man who wrote the journal, like the protagonist of The Time Machine (1895), leaves no concrete evidence of the supernormal; even the Swine-Things do a good job cleaning up after themselves. On the other hand, Hodgson lays out every detail, including consistent and persistent damage to the building. Where Poe retreats to a joke in “The Sphinx” (1846), Hodgson insists upon the integrity of his fantasy, like Wells in his science fiction. The loyalty of Pepper resembles the dog in “Darkness” (1816), but Hodgson’s early cosmic horror is a lot less romantic than Byron.

text fiction