First published in 1983, Shrine was the ninth novel of Herbert's to be released. He was already a very well-established horror writer, with a collection of classics of the genre under his belt. Shrine runs for 544 pages (epic for our Jim), which delivers a tale of horrific suspense. The novel takes a break from Herbert's splatterpunk roots, instead opting for a more atmospheric and haunting approach. The plot gradually unfolds throughout the novel, building up the suspense from the start. The characterisation is carefully constructed, bringing about a convincing hero character, Fenn. Herbert examines and develops on the conflicts between the religious organisations and the commercial world that we live in with an intelligent and thought-provoking manner. The book builds towards a massive finale which is where the book fails for me. The ending, (don't worry, I won't give it away) although thought-provoking and unexpected, left me feeling cheated. The tension towards the end is outstanding as Herbert has built the novel up to a peak, but it really fails to deliver a conclusion worthy of the build up. Our hero character who has led us through the novel seems to be more of a by-stander at the end rather than involved. Once the novel was finished, I was left in a haze of unrewarded emotions about the book, wishing that the ending had offered me something more to chew over.
Although this review has come out very negative, I must emphasise that it is still an enjoyable read. Ok, I felt cheated by the ending, but the tension created by Herbert's build-up is outstanding. The whole novel is extremely well written, creating a haunting atmosphere that is a pleasure to immerse yourself within.