Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Broken Hours

The Broken Hours

The horror genre is not one I'm familiar with so, before picking up this book, I'd never heard of the early 20th century American writer H.P. Lovecraft.

Jacqueline Baker's The Broken Hours mirrors Lovecraft's style while relating the story of Arthor (this is his actual first name, not a spelling mistake) Crandle, a fictional live-in personal assistant hired by Lovecraft in 1936, just a year or so before the famous author's death from cancer at age 46.

Crandle moves into the eerily dark, quiet dingy, etc. etc. mansion in Providence, Rhode Island and becomes immersed in the ghostly quality of the house: locked rooms, people appearing, disappearing, reappearing, odd lights, debris, lack of comfort or warmth and so on. He and his reclusive employer do not meet until several days later, communicating instead through letters left on a table. Creepiness abounds and discomfort crescendos. 

Good ghost stories depend on a writer setting the scene using descriptive language, innuendos, and suggestion. Characters falter, making poor decisions, becoming delusional. Crandle is no exception and his first lie leads to so many more afterwards, he cannot find his way out of them. Then the end of the story comes along and is so appropriately weird, the reader no longer understands what is a lie and who is being lied to.

I enjoyed reading The Broken Hours. It was fun to have a brief sojourn into horror. I looked up information about H.P. Lovecraft and was impressed how well his actual life details were integrated into Baker's story. What an interesting man he was! And what an interesting way Jacqueline Baker has of bringing him to our attention.