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The Edge of Running Water

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The Edge of Running Water deals with the adventures of a young psychologist in a remote Maine farm house; with the death of a woman and the disappearance of an inventor. Against a normal enough background, events take on the shape of terror, with a tinge of the unknown - hints of things beyond the borderland of the natural, including the strange researches into survival af ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 12th 1980 by Del Rey (first published 1939)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  169 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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mark monday
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: blood-and-danger
The Moral: dead should remain dead, don't trust mediums, some doors shouldn't be opened, etc.

I wanted to like this one so much more than I actually did. Its compact size and at-times frenetic pacing, the short amount of time portrayed (less than 2 days), its cult status, its marriage of science and psychic phenomena... all things I read about in advance, all things I still appreciate about it. Its title is resonant when considering what the story is leading to, both in the literal sense (a body
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sloane's second, and final, novel is more polished than its predecessor. The "cosmic horror" plot has more of a mystery vibe this time around, and the flip side of the often slow pacing is a gradually building suspense that pays off in a more satisfying conclusion that still leaves plenty to the imagination. Despite populating the story with recognizable caricatures (the befuddled professor, the redneck townies, the love interest, etc.) Sloane invests them with enough humanity to give the reader ...more
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The real shame here is that William Sloane only ever wrote two books...and now I've read them both. As he did with his first novel, 'To Walk the Night,' Sloane once again deftly combines mystery, sci-fi, and horror into an eloquent and suspenseful tale about an obsessed scientist trying to create a machine to speak with his dead wife. Maybe I can track down the short stories he allegedly wrote... ...more
Alex Sarll
The outline is the same as any number of horror stories: the narrator's friend was traumatised by the death of his wife, whom the narrator also loved, and has retreated to the countryside, where he now has a strange establishment with peculiar staff, amidst wild natural beauty, near an unfriendly small town. The narrator is summoned to visit him, and learns that something rum is going on – the brilliant, bereaved scientist is now attempting to find a cure for death! Surely this is only a symptom ...more
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
William Sloane wrote only two novels, but they were both doozies. The first, "To Walk the Night" (1937), is a combination sci-fi/horror/fantasy/mystery tale concerning a mysterious, otherworldly woman. Two years later, Mr. Sloane came out with "The Edge of Running Water," and this one, I feel, is even better. It concerns an electrophysicist, Dr. Julian Blair, who is attempting to construct an apparatus that will enable him to communicate with his dead wife. The book takes place on a promontory o ...more
Oct 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristi Blute
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I found it in our room at the Queen Mary and ordered it online to finish. Old time creepy with a lot of suspense. Written in 1939.
Jun 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a somewhat obscure book. I read it on a recommendation and I’m glad I did. It’s a fascinating old story that sounds very new. The copyright is listed as “1939, 1955, 1966” but not whether those were just renewals or rewrites.

It’s a ghost story with science fiction elements, or science fiction with horror elements. What Dr. Blair actually discovered is left unexplained—as is why Professor Sayles is convinced that this line of research must be ended. It is probably related to the strange,
Ethan Hulbert
This was a pretty dang good book.

The buildup was a bit slow for me, it could've been 25% shorter, and it wasn't quite perfect... could've used Anne more connected to the plot and the hero was a bit slow and uptight at times. I'd probably give this book a 4.5/5 but rounded up for goodreads.

I mostly liked the whole concept of the approximation of the seance... the idea that it could be just a wormhole to space, yes, or it could be a gateway to the world of the dead, yes, but it ALSO could be somet
Alex Bledsoe
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just finished this, the second and last novel by William Sloane. Like his first, TO WALK THE NIGHT, it's reminiscent of Lovecraft, especially "From Beyond." But also like the first, and unlike Lovecraft, Sloane creates vivid characters and dialogue. There's more conventional suspense in this one, and a tremendous payoff to the McGuffin in the locked room, but this one seems less, somehow, than the previous. Still, in his introduction Stephen King feels the opposite, so it may be a matter of tast ...more
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy reading a book from "long ago". The edition that I got from my library was printed in 1955, with a first printing in the 30s. Anyhow, I enjoyed every page of this horror/mystery/ghost story. The setting is a creepy house at the end of a road in rural Maine. What do you get if you put an eccentric electrophysicist, a cranky medium and a university professor in the same creepy house? You get mayhem, I tell you. But, seriously, this is a well-crafted mystery that keeps you guessing u ...more
Shawn C. Baker
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Not as good as To Walk The Night, but still an excellent piece of literature. Completely transcends genre tropes (partially because they didn't quite exist to the extent they have over the last four or five decades I suppose). There is an economic pragmatism to Mr. Sloane's work that I enjoy in the same fashion I enjoy Fitzgerald and Hemingway.
Highly recommended for fans of Cosmic Horror or Weird Fiction. Especially if you're looking for something 'new' in that arena.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not quite as interesting as Sloan's first novel, this book features a similar mixture of styles and genres in an unpredictable way. Doesn't go in the direction I thought, which was nice, but feels a bit rushed at points. Even worse, the romantic angle is a bit creepy: the narrator falls in love with a woman that he helped raise when she was 11 but is now 21: he's in his mid-30s. Woody Allen was probably a big fan, I suppose. *cheap gag* ...more
Henri Moreaux
Classic late 1930s mystery - science fiction novel, involving a mourning electro-physicist who attempts to use his scientific knowledge to construct an apparatus to speak with his dead wife, and those on the other side generally.

There's a few tropes such as the simple country townsfolk, the creepy medium, the seemingly mad scientist, but overall it's a well put together tale on what was at that point, in 1939, seemingly the cutting edge of electro-science to the lay person.

Worth a read for those
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great genre fun: part murder mystery, part “scientific romance” with that new-fangled electricity playing a role of its own. The tone is more literary than pulpy, and I enjoyed it quite a bit - even a little more than To Walk the Night.
Steve Knowles
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Written at the end of the 30’s. I found the writing style a bit clunky. Had its eerie moments, and some creepy atmospheric bits. It was fine.
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like earlier Lovecraft, but with actual characterization and dialog.
The Edge of Running Water is the second, and regrettably last, novel of William Sloane. Both books have been largely forgotten, along with their author, in spite of them both having been ingenious in a way that some horror authors still don't manage to touch. One could be blase about the topics of the two books - especially this one - the moral of which is one well-trodden in horror literature. ( Leave the dead where they lie, leave some doors closed, etc. ) What matters isn't the contents of ...more
Boris Cesnik
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an enjoyable, well written, old school, vintage sort of chiller. No blood, hardly any monster. But that's not the point...

Despite the absence of suspense, it's the atmosphere and the thinking that do the trick here. Forget any pompous description, any super SCI FI experimentation. The topic and the object of the novel are pretty much surpassed now. But this should not put you off.

Yes the story is not entirely fresh in today's canons. But the book does entertain a good old way. T
Dec 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Richard Sayles, an Academic from New York City travels to a small town in Maine to help an old friend, Dr. Julian Blair, who is conducting secretive research with the goal of communicating with the dead. While staying there, a local lady is killed and the locals think it is connected to the strange experiments.
The Edge of Running Water is a Horror story first published in 1939. Not surprisingly then, it has a very slow build up. There is a large mystery aspect to the story as the group attempts
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, swapped
After his wife dies, a grieving physics professor embarks on a mysterious experiment in a remote farmhouse. A colleague comes to visit and falls in love with the physicist's niece. Meanwhile, the domineering assistant, Mrs. Walters, has schemes of her own for the professor's research. Although this came highly recommended, the book was really only okay. It was very slow to develop and not very interesting. It picked up somewhat at the end when the professor's machine was finally revealed. There ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the second book in The Rim of Morning collection. It is another fine, intriguing novel, this one written in 1939.

It is a wonderful mixture of science fiction, horror, and whodunit. I'm truly sorry that Sloane wasn't more prolific because I thoroughly enjoyed both of his novels. They are plainly and concisely written, but still have a nice elegance to them.

Stephen King wrote the introduction (which is how I found out about these books) and I can see why he is a fan. Not everyone is capab
Oct 17, 2010 rated it did not like it
Quite possibly the single most over rated piece of fiction I have pushed through in recent memory. Trite, tepid, poorly paced and anti-climactic. No tension, the atmosphere was stilted and forced and I honestly did not care about a single character in the book.

A quarter century of hearing about how fantastic this was meant profound disappointment for me. Perhaps there was a reason Sloane wrote only two novels?
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It would have been interesting to see if Sloane had written more. This and To Walk the Night are good early works, especially for horror books published in the 30s. He was doing some interesting work, but sadly it's all he did. ...more
Jed Mayer
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
More haunting and evocative than its predecessor, To Walk the Night, this novel is a meticulously crafted, vividly realized narrative that skillfully blends weird fiction, traditional gothic horror, mystery, and science fiction.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Subtle, early science fiction. I should read more by him.
Stephen King favorably mentioned this book in Chapter 2 of Berkley's 1983 paperback edition of Danse Macabre. ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book is just as delightfully odd as the film that was made based upon it...The Devil Commands (1941).
Pam Baddeley
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Suspenseful story about a scientist trying to create apparatus to enable him to communicate with his dead wife and featuring a vividly created thoroughly evil female character.
Dec 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice fairly quiet build up of creepiness.
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