Book Review: The Rats by James Herbert

This is slightly embarrassing to admit, but I’d never heard of James Herbert until I came across this book – at the same time, this is some of the most terrifying horror I’ve ever read.

I love horror, but more often than not, it fails to scare me. Sure, it’s creepy, and there’s a dark atmosphere and some captivating mystery, but it’s rarely “scary.” A lot of what is deemed “horror” tend fall into my personal categorization as “dark thriller” instead.

Not so with James Herbert’s The Rats. I was surprised that something as simple as some killer rats would have this effect on me, but it’s absolutely magnificent.

So simplistic yet so visceral and terrifying. Herbert doesn’t beat around the bush and try to sway you with fancy words – something I realize he’s been criticized for after reading more about him and his work. Instead, he just drives the stake home with terrifying scenes and horrible imagery, and I promise, they cut to the bone.

The plot took me a little while to get into and was probably a bigger issue for me than his writing style. At first I thought the book was a collection of short stories, unconnected rat encounters that simply aimed to overdo each other in their terribleness. Eventually I caught on, and from then on the book got much better.

I highly recommend this to any horror fan – like I said, I’d never heard of him before and was incredibly surprised! Looking forward to reading more Herbert books.

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