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The Ghost Pirates by William Hope Hodgson

The Ghost Pirates (1909)

by William Hope Hodgson

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191591,176 (3.48)15



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In 'The Ghost Pirates', William Hope Hodgson seems to be working at slightly longer length in this novel when compared to some of his other books. And in contrast to some of his shorter novels, the weirdness quotient doesn’t ramp up all that quickly here, though he keeps saying “Something truly uncanny then happened…” and then it’s only slightly odd – nothing hair-raising the way it was in 'The Boats of the Glen Carrig', for example. Mind you, it shares that story’s load of naval proto-technobabble and I kept thinking of Edmund Blackadder’s encounter with Sir Walter Raleigh “and his Golden BeHind”. And guess what? The ghosts turned out to be pirates at the end, after all! (Or was it that the pirates were ghosts?) Hodgson pulls another reveal out of the hat in this one; the narrator turns out to have his mate’s ticket, but that hardly really influences what happens even though the ship’s captain suggests it might. The story ends very suddenly. All die. O the embarrassment (as Joe Haldeman once wrote).
1 vote RobertDay | Nov 1, 2017 |
Great ghost story. Hodgson puts you on the ship. Great story and characters. ( )
  caanderson | Jan 24, 2015 |
Another horror/fantasy blend. There's not much by way of explanation in this one: the first line of the first chapter kind of sums it up: "He began without any circumlocution." Hodgson builds up the setting quite well, the slow beginning of the supernatural events and the spreading fear and paranoia. There's a lot of concrete detail about life on board a ship that serves to make it very much like realism, and then all hell breaks loose. The hows and whys of it aren't explained, only the events. Creepy and urgent at times, and a bit quicker paced than The Boats of the Glen Carrig and The House on the Borderland.

There are more named characters, in this one, though they're not very distinct from one another -- I might remember a few of them, Williams and Tammy for example, but mostly they were just Generic Sailors. There's also dialogue, unlike in the other two books I've read by Hodgson, which does seem to get things going a bit more urgently.

Atmospheric, and well-described in places -- not exactly fast-paced compared to modern novels, though. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
I first read this book in the
'80s and had fond memories of it. Having just re-read it (Dec 09), I was pleasantly surprised that it was every bit as good as I remembered it.

Having been published in 1905, this is not a graphic horror story, rather it is an atmospheric supernatural tale that builds tension through hints and suggestions; half-seen, half-imagined horrors. That the author, Hodgson, was in the British Navy for several years adds to the realism of his depiction of life aboard a sailing ship of the early 20th century, although his use of some technical naval terms does get you running for the dictionary.

On the whole, a very enjoyable read. Ghosts and pirates: it does what it says on the tin! ( )
  Michael.Rimmer | Mar 30, 2013 |
I always did like a horror tale wherein the main character is a completely normal guy dealing with abnormal circumstances.This was a good, spooky read. Told completely from the point of of the sole survivor, no explanation is given for the strange events that befall the cursed sailing vessel. It's a quick read with reasonably good pacing. I'd agree with other reviewers here in that this is the archetypal ghost story.I was happy to have downloaded this for free on my Kindle, because - being from the point of view of a common 19th century sailor - I needed a bit of help to get through the nautical lingo. ( )
  Creeps | Mar 24, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 143441003X, Paperback)

". . . a powerful account of a doomed and haunted ship on its last voyage, and of the terrible sea-devils (of quasi-human aspect, and perhaps the spirits of bygone buccaneers) that besiege it and finally drag it down to an unknown fate. With its command of maritime knowledge, and its clever selection of hints and incidents suggestive of latent horrors in nature, this book at times reaches enviable peaks of power." - H.P. Lovecraft

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:03 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Mortzestus is reputed to be haunted but the crew dismisses the rumors as preposterous - at first. Two weeks out of port the rigging suddenly goes slack, a ghostly form arises from the sea, and shadows thicken around the vessel. The frightened sailors, convinced that supernatural powers are afoot, plot mutiny and demand to be set ashore. But a dense mist descends around the ship, threatening to swallow the craft and its men without a trace. The desperate crew's chilling fate is recounted in this compulsive page-turner by William Hope Hodgson, a master of seafaring yarns. Rich in nautical language and lore, it combines an intriguing view of shipboard life with a suspenseful ghost story. Horror author Robert Weinberg noted the occult classic's compact prose style, hailing it as "one of the finest examples of the tightly written novel ever published." And no less an authority than H. P. Lovecraft observed, "With its command of maritime knowledge, and its clever selection of hints and incidents suggestive of latent horrors in nature, this book at times reaches enviable peaks of power."… (more)

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