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The Broken Hours I had mixed feelings about The Broken Hours The book was not at all what I expected in good and bad ways The writing itself was spectacular scalpel precise but never too simple or sparse Every word felt like it was exactly where it was supposed to be There was a beauty and intensity and than a little melancholy that cut right into my perception and continued its work deep into my brain matter Lines like the coldly muscled coursing of the river provided perfect delicious moments of imagery so vivid in both what they evoked and the sheer genius of that particular combination of words that I often found myself re reading them over and over again under my breath until the rhythm became familiar with my tongueThe story which was not exactly plot heavy opting instead for a gloomy slow burn character study was engaging in terms of psychology and atmosphere but confounded my initial expectations of the cover's promise that this was a novel of HP Lovecraft I kept expecting hoping some eldritch horror would come suirming from the shadows and was inevitably disappointed when this SPOILERS didn't happen But to judge a book by something it is not and something that it isn't trying to be specifically is somewhat unfairThe real problem I had with The Broken Hours was the at once implausibility and predictability of what constitutes the book's major climactic twist Although the mystery is underplayed uite well at times to fantastic emotional effect a particular flashback is brilliantly executed in terms of what it specifically doesn't mention it became one of those I really hope they don't go in that direction contrivances Ultimately the author did go in that direction and although by no means a failure the reveal fell flat for me A uiet novel with a uiet ending all of it laced with melancholy and loss but with something missing that could have brought some of the disparate elements together and elevated it to great piece of literature I'd still definitely recommend the book though; I devoured it uickly and urged myself to read one chapter one chapter with every sitting Jacueline Baker writes with a deep sort of Gothic poetry that really gets under your skin and stays there worming its way into you Despite my misgivings its scenes and characters and tangible atmospherics still turn slowly in my head I dislike giving the impression I'm a literary snob so let me set the record straight immediately I love horror and I love good writing and I'm as likely to read Stephen King as a I am to read Shirley Jackson Nevertheless there are some who uestion if modern horror can ever transcend its genre ghetto and having just finished Jacueline Baker's The Broken Hours I'm optimistic it not only can but already has Google literary horror and you'll get lists pointing you toward Edgar Allan Poe Mary Shelley Bram Stoker and Joyce Carol Oates With rare exceptions these lists don't contain anything written in the past 30 years as though literary status is denied to horror until it's aged sufficiently to have lost much of its potency However like SF and Fantasy literary writers are turning their attentions towards horror And since I finished it with Halloween just a few days hence it is my recommendation for those who not only appreciate good storytelling but careful wordsmithing and poetic proseBaker's writing has always been haunted From her short stories in A Hard Witching to her stark vision of Canada's western prairies in The Horseman's Graves there's always a sense of the uncanny stalking at the edges of the page In those works her ghosts are subtle In The Broken Hours they take center stage in a tale about a man who comes to work as a personal assistant for HP Lovecraft In Baker's hands the setting of Providence Rhode Island during the Great Depression is haunted enough and so the first 96 pages read much like her previous work albeit in a compelling concise fashion It wasn't until that 96th page when I read the words It was in my room that I felt the chills crawl up my spine But don't expect that The Broken Hours suddenly becomes a Cthulhu inspired horror fest at that point There are no Elder Gods in these pages no physical portals to worlds of madness though Baker's creation of Lovecraft's voice feels terribly authentic Instead Baker slowly doles out the remaining moments of atmospheric horror in small doses slowly revealing the presences behind closed doors in the darkness on the landing in the garden out the window or in the blinking lights of the castle like structure across the cityOne of my favourite passages in The Broken Hours speaks to the desire for horror but also demonstrates what sets reading Baker's horror from writers like Dean Koontz What is it about the darkness which draws us? At once inward and outward I had always been too easily drawn too easily Jane would have said too easily enveloped I who feared once as a child not the witching autumn but spring that clear lighted season of ghosts when Jesus rose from the tomb bloodless and terrible rolling away the stone in the sunlight with his own deathless hands I imagined Jane's shock at hearing such a confession Oh yes the darkness drew me Had drawn me always There was something in me I knew something perhaps in us all which no matter our rational selves was haunted It is this beautiful prose this beautiful terror which makes The Broken Hours my top literary recommendation for the Halloween season While the chills of The Broken Hours are admittedly slow in coming compared to King or Koontz once they arrive they are the kind that creep up to leech the warmth and light from a bright autumn afternoon an experience I was shocked to have on my way to pick my children up from school Scaring a reader in the night watches is relatively easy scaring a reader in broad daylight especially one who cut his horror teeth on King's Pet Semetary is another And yet there I was reading while walking the hair on my arms standing on end the sun shining down on me And unlike recent King or almost all Koontz Baker knows how to end a book leaving me lingering over the last page reading it over several times to let it sink in beneath the skin Review BROKEN HOURS by Jacueline BakerI have been extraordinarily blessed in the last few years by discovering several perfect books BROKEN HOURS A NOVEL OF H P LOVECRAFT is one I don't even feel capable of doing this novel justice in my review BROKEN HOURS should be an award winner multiple timesMike Davis at LOVECRAFT EZINE highly recommended BROKEN HOURS and I was impelled to pre order it even though mire expensive than I usually buy and it is worth every single penny I read it in just a few hours and want to read it again right awayIf you love the Lovecraftian Mythos; if you enjoy fictional biographies of authors; if you want to be stunned by enormously graceful writing; if you are drawn to depth psychology and abnormal psychology BROKEN HOURS is your book Fiction which uses real historical characters can be tricky and sometimes disappointing if the reader knows about the historical figure than the author Happily this is not the case with this novel Baker uses weird fiction writer HP Lovecraft as a character but has obviously done her research Although she takes a few liberties with facts as sometimes fiction must she remains true to the essence of both his character and some of the tone of his stories to weave her own rather creepy tale into which Lovecraft figures The prevailing tone of a cold spring in Providence provides the setting for a ghostly story which touches on madness identity and hints of things otherworldly which captivates the reader utterly A literary gothic of high uality with an interesting take on one of the masters of horror BH In the cold spring of 1936 Arthor Crandle down on his luck and desperate for work accepts a position in Providence Rhode Island as a live in secretaryassistant for an unnamed shut inHe arrives at the gloomy colonial style house to discover that his strange employer is an author of disturbing bizarre fiction Health issues have confined him to his bedroom where he is never to be disturbed But the writer who Crandle knows only as “Ech Pi” refuses to meet him communicating only by letters left on a table outside his room Soon the home reveals other unnerving peculiarities There is an ominous presence Crandle feels on the main stairwell Light shines out underneath the door of the writer’s room but is invisible from the street It becomes increasingly clear there is something not right about the house or its occupantHaunting visions of a young girl in a white nightgown wandering the walled in garden behind the house motivate Crandle to investigate the circumstances of his employer’s dark family history Meanwhile the unsettling aura of the house pulls him into a world increasingly cut off from reality into black depths where an unspeakable secret lies waiting This is a delicious slow burn of a reading experience And experience really captures it for me; the haunting prose kept me in the moment fully engaged with disbelief suspended I purposefully did not try to anticipate where the mystery was going or what the end point would be and I think that's the best way to enjoy this dreamlike and deeply psychological book If you're looking for non stop action you'll be disappointed That said I was riveted the entire timeThe you know about the life of HP Lovecraft the you will appreciate this novel I felt especially connected to Jacueline Baker's masterful descriptions because I have walked those streets in Providence and seen that house that library that cemetery etc I won't say much because this really needs to be experienced not spoiled The novel is disturbing in a good way I finished it a couple of days ago and it's been following me around ever since I know I'll be thinking about it for a good while to come HP Lovecraft is experiencing a revival The strange author of even stranger stories had a life it seems that was crying out to be turned into fiction Within the last year I've seen Lovecraft turned into a character in stories based in his fiction His settings have been revived for even novels Jacueline Baker's The Broken Hours is a literary turn on this little renaissance Her novel is set in the last year of Lovecraft's life when he was furthest down on his luck and dying of cancer The Broken Hours sent me scurrying to Lovecraft's biography than once—and conseuently had me wondering what was fictional and real than once too Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type I received a free copy of this book from Edelweiss for review consideration I gave this book three stars because I liked the style of writing However I don't know what happened I was so confused and the end didn't really clear it up for me i will admit to some initial surprise at the lack of what one comes to expect from a novel of HP Lovecraft but that hardly seemed to matter as i tore through this book in one sitting OK i got up to make tea so two sittings technically the writing for this tale was period perfect and full of wonderful phrases and word choices just grand definitely an odd literary trip but uite enjoyable one was consistently left to wonder what was happening and what one might have missed or what was not being saidtold a palpable sense of dread or wrongness or doom threaded throughout all that though it's not even that kind of story at all one might think that would disappoint but not so it simply adds to the strength of the author's talents that such a misdirection brought solely by the reader as one is never told The Old Ones will be seeping from the void in any way so it seems to merely take the mention of Lovecraft to make one assume certain things ultimately an unsettling story and one that asks that you think and feel and possibly suspend rationality just a little darkness is closer than you expect I guess it was only a matter of time before Lovecraft himself started winding his proverbial tentacles into the New Weird as a character but here we are with The Broken Hours a uiet creepy affairThe story is mainly about a man who takes an assistant position in an old house in Providence He never meets the man he works for communicating only in letters The house is believed to be haunted there is unexplained phenomena throughout and the book follows these reveals slowly throughoutThe most frustrating part of reading this book is that Jacueline Baker makes a conscious decision to place all uotes within italics instead which is something I never got used to and really drew me out of the story instead of perhaps drawing me inward as intended The result is that the narrative itself while an interesting slow burn feels than a little stilted as one tries to get back into the tale Other readers might not have the same issue thoughThere's not a lot of obvious mythos here and the payoff isn't what I personally expected but this is still a fun read Things are just uneasy and creepy enough to keep the reader engaged and the Providence of this book feels appropriately Lovecraftian even though people aren't fornicating with the sea monsters as far as we can tell so there's a lot to love here for those interested in weird fiction or Lovecraft in general There's just too much here that doesn't uite work that keeps The Broken Hours from being great instead of the very good that it is


About the Author: Jacqueline Baker

Jacueline Baker is the author of A Hard Witching and Other Stories which won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award the Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize and the Howard O'Hagan Award for Short Fiction and was also a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Her first novel The Horseman's Graves won wide critical acclaim and was a finalist for the Evergreen Award Jacueline


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