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Old 2nd November 2003, 12:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
Brian G. Turner
 
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Post James Herbert

This is entirely a rambling thread, to state that one of the first ever authors I began reading prolifically was James Herbert.

When I was 16 I think it was Bridlington we had our family holiday that year - and at some point we went to a shop and I bought "The Rats".

Enjoyed it enough to buy "Lair" and "Domain", the two sequels.

And then simply bought up all of his novels up to and including "the Magic Cottage".

In comparison to King, there is none - King writes about American culture and postulates "what if's" as to how it could go wrong - ie, what if...a rabid St Bernard trapped a family; what if...vampires took over a small town; what if...

James Herbert writes about English people moving through dark realities. That, by the way, does not mean I therefore rate him as the better author. In judgement, King's skill with evoking "America" and daily life probably sets him far ahead. What James Herbert was able to do fairly well was to bring the distinctly grotesque forward to the reader.

King never really does that to the same extent (though he did to some degree with Pet Sematary) and he isn't gratuitously grotesque as Clive Barker seems to be.

James Herbert was good at taking an idea and developing it in sinister ways:

"The Spear" is a great example, where the very spear that supposedly pierced Christ's side is to be used for powerful dark magic;

"The Jonah" was where a man was continually haunted by the twin that never survived (think King's "Dark Half" but with less mystery and more "yuck!" factor ;

"The Shrine", "The Dark", and even the "Fog" - not to mention the "Rats" series itself, all demonstrate his aptitude here.

Of course, he was able to digress into more harmless works. Surprisingly, the novel "Fluke" - which was about a man at death immediately being re-incarnated into a dog - seems to be generally agreed to have been one of his best works. That, despite, no real horror content.

However, it must be said that one of his great weaknesses was "Deus Ex Machina". Simply put, sometimes he invoked powers far too dark for any earthly power to combat - and far too often his novels were concluded by an indistinct light - sometimes "cross-shaped" - that cleared everything up after the protagonist was found unable to match the dark powers of the universe that Herbert exposed and developed for his writing.

His strength included the ability to use "real-life" in his scenes. Like King, Herbert could use every-day occurrences in his writings and make them work. However, unlike Stephen King, James Herbert always seemed to twist them in a particularly unique work.

"The Magic Cottage" provided a typically open-ended "full of loose ends" finish (not unlike King, actually). I'd grown tired of this mixed with Deus Ex Machina, and so I moved on and have never read anything else by James Herbert since.

I had fun reading his writings, and they taught me a few things about how to use information for particular effect. Importantly, it also taught that there should be no real taboos in writing. At the end of the day, though, it suited my tastes as a teen, and I had fun with the books.

If you'd like to read any James Herbert yourself then "Fluke" remains the best. The "Rats" series is noteworthy, and perhaps "The Shrine" is the most disturbing. I probably won't recommend "The MAgic Cottage" though.

- Brian
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Old 16th January 2004, 11:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

Just discovered this today, and quite timely it is, since I've been hanging around the horror shelves lately, looking at the James Herbert books and wondering where to plunge in! Thanks, Brian!


Does anyone have any views on Ramsey Campbell and TM Wright? I'm wonderng about them, too. I really haven't delved too much into horror, but lately I feel a need to.
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Old 16th January 2004, 04:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

Heh, glad it was of some worth.
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Old 4th February 2004, 05:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

Thanks for the JAmes Herbert intro Brian.

The way you compare King and Herbert makes me want to read them both, I'll check their books out at some point. When I actually get the free time and read most of the day again....
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Old 4th February 2004, 08:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

I remember a copy of "The Rats" being past around my primary school!! No joke! All the "tasty" bits were dog-eared & reread over & over by all us stupid kids! Ha... Anyway I ended up reading this from start to finish, great stuff! Also read..."The Survivor"..."The Dark"..."The Fog"...

Good call, I, Brian! I'm definitely gonna chase his stuff up again & reread it all!

I do like Stephen King's books...he's a great story-teller & characterizer etc...but I also find him undisciplined, he gushes out onto paper without restraint...which is fine I guess, just his approach to writing!? (Last King book I read was "It"...picked it up for a buck at the flea market!)

James Herbert crafted his stories a lot more neatly. And while we're at it, have a look at Robert R. McCammon's stuff - terrific! Once again, he chooses his words...not like King...When you read King, it's like listening to someone ramble out loud, without benefit of script or anything...!?? (Last McCammon books I read = "Gone South" (I highly recommend it, not quite horror, but whacked out & crazy!!! heh)...and "Stinger" (very silly horror/sci-fi...but fun)...ahh but who can forget his glory days of "They Thirst"..."Baal"..."Bethany's Sin".....!!!)

Ramsay Campbell...hmm...I just can't read him!? Don't ask me why...I've tried 2 of his books in as many months and I just can't get into them...!? Just personal taste, I guess... How do you try to justify "taste"???
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Old 4th February 2004, 08:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

Same here with Ramsey Campbell. I recently read To Wake The Dead and a bit of The Doll Who Ate His Mother and wasn't really able to get into it. It seemed to be nothing much other than your usual modern horror with vague evils. He writes reasonably well, but it isn't very gripping.
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Old 4th February 2004, 09:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

The Campbell books I tried were "The Nameless" and "Incarnate"...couldn't get more than 2 or 3 chapters into either!!! And the back-cover blurbs sounded great!! I don't know what's up with him (or me)...!?

I also didn't like Clive Barker's "Weaveworld"...and Gaiman's "American Gods"...I tried reading both of these recently too! Too wanky...or silly...or something...I dunno...!?

God I'm fussy!!!!!

Oh...I forgot to mention Robert R. McCammon's "The Nightboat"!!! Wow!! What a ripper!!!
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Old 19th February 2005, 06:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

I use to read horror before getting into fantasy. Herbert was the author that got me into horror and I still think he is a brilliant author

I like the Rats series very much

Anyhow read Once by Herbert?
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Old 20th February 2005, 09:26 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

I'm about to start Nobody true by him. any opinion ?

Sorry Rune, as I've read all my James Herbert in french, I've never paid attention to the original title. Could you fill me in about Once story ?
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Old 21st February 2005, 09:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

I kinda like James Herbert. I really enjoyed Creed, and I started reading Others and liked that too, but for some reason never finished it. I dug Sepulchre too, but it's been so long since I read that I don't remember too much about it.

I also read the Fog, which was okay for a quick entertainment fix, but he has yet to blow me away.

lol I remember seeing Herbert appear on Graham Norton. That was funny; I felt bad for him.
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Old 29th March 2005, 01:02 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

I've read Others and have to say I was not very impressed with this book. I've read a lot of Herbert books and this is probably one of his weakest books, perhaps in line with Sepulchre it has the same meandering pace which you are expecting will build up to something that never does. There is not very much gore and as far as I can remember the male protagonist never gets it on with his female.

Nobody True was far superior book. Lots of shocks, good sex scenes & gore teamed with what is actually quite a good story.

Odd Thomas has to be my hot tip of the month though. Written by Dean Koontz.

Hi by the way! I'm new!
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Old 29th March 2005, 01:50 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

lmao hi.

I'd second the recommendation for Odd Thomas, I enjoyed that for a quick fix of fun.
Quote:
There is not very much gore and as far as I can remember the male protagonist never gets it on with his female.

Nobody True was far superior book. Lots of shocks, good sex scenes & gore teamed with what is actually quite a good story.
The protagonist owns a female?
I don't enjoy reading sex scenes; I usually skim right past them. Gore, yeah if it fits, but it's always the good story I'm looking out for.
What was the fairy story he did? Or am I just going mad and mixing it up with another author?
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Old 29th March 2005, 01:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

No prob with sex scenes, Space Monkey, they're not here just for voyeurism but because they're related to the story and well written.
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Old 30th March 2005, 12:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

'Once' was the fairy story. Oh and there's lots of sex in that one too... an a succubus... very good story though. genuinely.
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Old 30th August 2005, 10:07 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: James Herbert

my favorite James Herbert book has to be the survivour although the twist at the end is slightly pridictable, haunted was good but i just could not read the followup "The Ghosts of Sleath" it just bored me so much but the rest of his books are good the rats series is great especially domain, creed and the Others and in reply to an earlier coment the magic cottage was good but it was just a little weird
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