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After watching "True Detectives," I decided to investigate Lovecraft a bit and concluded that I probably wouldn't really enjoy reading his stuff.  But every article mentioned that this book was a huge influence on Lovecraft and so I decided to give it a try.  It is apparently considered the first book to depart from traditional Gothic horror and turn into something more like science fiction horror.  Grasshopper just alerted me that I had probably also read about it on the "obscure books that you love" thread (or something like that) and she's right!  So sorry Clavain that I did not give you adequate credit.  I'm sure that post was what really made me finally to and get it.


It doesn't so much depart from Gothic horror as seem to have a foot firmly in that camp with another one in the science fiction camp.  It's an interesting juxtaposition.  Two men go camping in western Ireland and happen upon the ruins of an extremely strange house, surrounded by an extremely strange garden, near an extremely strange lake.   When they poke around, they find the memoirs of the house's last inhabitant, the Recluse.  So far, so Gothic.


But the memoirs include not only an invasion by strange scary swine-creatures, but also a visit to different dimensions, and a description of a period in which the Recluse watches all of the changes in the cosmos through millennia,including the failure of the sun and the creation of new stars. Once, when I was talking with a friend about religion, I confessed that heaven sounded just a tad bit boring, except that I thought it would be interesting to watch the progress of plate tectonics and evolution over a great period of time.  So i found this witness to long long periods of history to be an interesting conceit and very much out of the traditional Gothic story.


In the end, I was glad I gave it a try and could certainly see how it would have been thrilling and unique when it was first published in 1908.  If you are interested in horror in general or the history of horror or Lovecraft, I recommend it.  


I think this will be the "least like me" read of 2014.

Edited by Binker
To give credit to Clavain for the recommendation
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Thank you for the review Binker, I agree with all your comments and it seems we were trying out The House on the Borderland at around the same time. I was first made aware of this book on Clavain’s post on “obscure books that you love”, so my thanks as well Clavain. After seeing the interest it created there, I found it on audible to see for myself.

As the reading of the Recluse’s diary began I thought how much like Lovecraft’s style it was beginning to sound and wondered if those works had been the inspiration, so looked up more about the author and found it to be entirely the other way around. This increased my interest as, although not at all a Lovecraft fan, I read some of the books and Cthulu tales long ago and it is a style and content hard to forget. I was impressed that someone had imagined and written something on those lines first.

The concept of the Recluse watching as the millennia flashed past was clever and fascinating. Whilst we can easily imagine this, being used to time-lapse films, at the time it was written it must have been strange, weird and wonderful. Perhaps it seemed even a little blasphemous to the more religious readers of the day with their narrow concepts of eternal life. That part did seem to go on for rather a long time. If I had been reading I might have skipped a bit or could have got through it more quickly, but when listening you can’t do that.

I was rather niggly with the Recluse, as in fact he did not live in the house entirely alone. For some time at least he lived there with his sister who did all the housekeeping and cooking. He occasionally remembered to see she was comparatively safe from any danger,( by locking her up in a room ?), and never ever discussed anything with her at all. But, that was typical of the time and maybe she would have made unwelcome practical female suggestions like

” Let’s get the hell out of here!”

and ruined the story.

This is a most unusual book and leaves many unanswered questions, with some interesting, if not exactly encouraging, suggestions of what we might expect in remote, strange, ancient houses - be warned.

In the end, I was glad I gave it a try and could certainly see how it would have been thrilling and unique when it was first published in 1908.  If you are interested in horror in general or the history of horror or Lovecraft, I recommend it.

I ended feeling the same.

Edited by grasshopper
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