Written on: 28/12/2002 by thewampster.
Fast, page-turning action
Bit gory for some, no exactly 'deep' in a literary sense
If you want to read James Herbert's best work then you have to go right back the begining in my view. His later novels seem to have either toned down a bit or lost some of the punch that made him a big name in horror fiction.
The Rats is Herbert's first and possibly best novel. Plotwise it is incredibly simplistic but it makes for the kind of page-turning action any horror fan can appreciate. Basically some rats have fed on contaminated grain and moved into the sewers of London. There they grew and grew until the size of small dogs and now they've got the taste for human flesh and are pouring out of the drains and sewer outlets to attack London residents.
The language is simplistic but effective and Herbert doesn't waste much time setting the scene but tends to get straight into the violent, bloody action. No one is safe, the old, the young, a baby in its pram, all are fair game for the rats and the horror and revulsion is passed on to the reader by the bucketload. This may not be the best book you've ever read but I defy anyone to voluntarily put it down once they've started reading. It's one of the modern classics of the horror genre and better still, has two sequels called Lair and Domain...