Two visitors to the West of Ireland, Tonnison and Berreggnog, stumble across a ruined house. They discover a damaged book in the midst of the debris. It is the diary of the reclusive former occupant of the house. In it, he recounts a series of bizarre phenomena he encounters while living there.
The influence of this book on writers like Lovecraft is unmistakable. The siege of the house of pig creatures is well done. There is an astounding passage describing the speed up of time and the author’s experience of the passing of millions of years. It reminded me a lot of 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, other parts are less climatic. I felt frustrated rather than intrigued by the missing pages. The disjointedness and randomness of the events sometimes made me like I was passing through a fun house rather than experiencing an unknowable but cohesive mystery.
The house is strangely divorced from the time and place in which it’s supposed to be set. The odd anachronism doesn’t help. But maybe it’s part of the book’s dream-like charm. It reinforces the isolation (or madness) of the diary’s author and his much put-upon sister.
Tonnison at the end of the book is certain at the end of the novel that the journal is an honest recounting of real events. I wasn’t so sure. There seems to be hints to the contrary. It’s really up to the reader to make her mind up.