When I first picked up this book I was a bit wary of reading it. I was worried that it would read a little like Bram Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm, an awful piece of work that I am definitely not a fan of. Stuck for something to read the other day I decided to give The House on the Borderland a go – and I couldn't put it down!
Published in 1908 it has obviously served as inspiration to H P Lovecraft and the like and if I had read this horror/sci-fi at the time of its publication I would have been terrified; as it was I was excited by it although the long sci-fi passages midway did serve to bore me a little.
The story is told by way of a manuscript which is found by two young men who are out camping and exploring in the English countryside. They come upon a strange garden and ruins of an isolated house, and are unnerved by the unusual sounds in the area. When they return to their camp they begin to read through the manuscript …… and as I was reading it, two images came to mind – the ending to the Italian horror movie The Beyond:
and scenes from the original movie The Time Machine:
It turns out that the original house was inextricably linked to another house beyond known space and time, located on an unending plain, and watched over by ancient evil beings. The attacks on this house by swine like humanoids are also experienced on the earthbound house, which would have been a very original idea at the time. During a respite from the attacks the despairing writer of the manuscript, along with his trusty dog Pepper, investigates a large pit in the garden and a cavernous cellar under the house, from which strange chuckling noises are heard......
Many of H P Lovecraft’s stories are written in the same vein as this one, with the story being told by the protagonist who is, in the last pages of the novel, frantically scratching away pen to paper telling us the story whilst the monster is at the door trying to break in! But despite this device it really is quite a gripping tale - if just a little dated now.