Ash by James Herbert

Cover image AshAfter waiting so long for a new book from James Herbert I was delighted to hear of its publication, but what a let-down this book proved to be. People who don’t like the supernatural horror genre are likely to dismiss all such books as preposterous rubbish. In this case it’s not the supernatural elements that should be so dismissed, but the basic plot. The reader is supposed to accept that just about all of the super-villains from the last sixty years are living out their days in a luxurious secret hideaway on the Scottish coast tended by large numbers of staff who never breathe a word of their existence to the outside world. Not only is the plot farcical, but some of the conspiracy theories trotted out must be deeply offensive to the real families involved.
The author clearly hadn’t lost the ability to string words together into sentences can carry the story along at a cracking pace, but in this case the story simply isn’t worth telling.

The fact that the Kindle version was made available briefly by Amazon for only 20p was an unexpected bonus. It’s also available in print format. Ash

The Dark by James Herbert

Cover imageFor me this book encapsulates the best and the worst of the writing of James Herbert.

The good bits (and they are very good) are the intense psychological elements of the horror – the spiritual dimension of the ultimate struggle between Good and Evil. The ending is thought-provoking and moving.

The tedious aspect is the body count; hundreds of people die with unnecessarily detailed description. I can picture the author scratching his head, thinking, ‘I’ve bumped some off by shooting, stabbing, drowning, hanging, falling from buildings, strangulation, acid attack and being crushed by vehicles. What else can I do? Oh yes, I’ll have some burned alive.’

People don’t just fall from buildings; they fall down stair wells having limbs ripped off on the way. When people hit the floor we’re told of the squelch of bursting heads.

The good aspects stir the imagination. The tedious aspect is for readers with no imagination.

I read it when this book was chosen by a Goodreads group to mark the author’s passing and bought it for Kindle from Amazon where it’s also available in print format. The Dark

RIP James – and thanks for so much good reading over the years.