on 12 February 2011
I read this in two days, and would have read it in one if not for other commitments. its a very short book and as such it leaves alot to be desired. so much more could have been added to the pages, fleshing out the characters, making the ending a little less obvious maybe?
to be honest i almost didnt see the ending coming because it was the most obvious, i thought no way is he going to do that, but yep, he did.
being ambiguous here so as not to spoil things for people. i did enjoy it, mostly because it was a short read, any longer and i may have had to leave it. but it was a classic ghost story. all the way through i could imagine it being written just so some director would snap it up and make a movie.
some creepy bits, well executed but i preferred his earlier works. The Fog nad The Rats highly reccomended.
on 21 March 2005
Haunted is a gripping read and highly recommendable. The story concentrates on David Ash, a paranormal investigator,as he investigates the abnormal occurances at Edbrook, a decaying mansion tucked away in the outskirts of the village.
I literally couldn't put the book down. I did feel that the ending was rather predictable, however, and I couldn't work out whether I had reviewed the book in detail somewhere previously, or whether the plot was really that transparent.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of tense moments from beginning to end; the descriptive passages convey a vivid painting of the scene throughout your imagination, and add to the spine-chilling effect.
The links with Ash's childhood explain his personality traits and characteristics, weaving the whole book together beautifully. Highly recommended.
This is my favourite book written by James Herbert. It is probably one of my favourite horror books of all time as well.
The basic plot is that a sceptical psychic investigator is sent to uncover whether a haunting is taking place at a house called Edbrook, which is occuppied by three grown up children and their guardian, Nanny Tess. The action takes place over three nights in which the investigator, David Ash, is forced to confront the mystery at Edbrook and the secrets of his own past. This is a brief outline of the plot and i will not spoil the book by adding any more detail.
Why do i love this book so much, and why is it a horror book that i love to read time and time again?
There are many reasons for this book being a great piece of horror.
One, is that is short.Too many horror novels these days are so intent on building up the characters, various plotlines and set pieces that they often lose their impact, and their ability to grip you, scare you and most importantly, read right to the end without putting the book down.
Secondly, this book doesn't try to have 'closure' at the end of it.Too many modern horror novels have a happy ending. This one doesn't, and this in itself is very brave, but also satisfying for the reader. Throughout this book the reader is treated as an equal to the author, and James Herbert has done a fine job in letting the reader imagine what could be happening in Edbrook, in David's past, and what a possible ending is going to be.
Another key success in this book is the quality of the characters that are involved with David Ash - from the residents of Edbrook, to David's colleagues at the psychic institute. Again, Herbert lets you make up your own mind in reacting to the characters he has created.
A great achievement is the atmosphere generated by the author. The house where the action takes place is suitably threatening and mysterious, and i could certainly imagine this novel being filmed at on old, down-at-heel country manor house with it's mysterious pond and mausoleum tucked away in the garden.
The pacing is good too. You will not be bored by this book - there are snippets and hints as to the true nature of the mystery at Edbrook, and there are genuinely creepy scenes and moments of true horror without going into an overblown blood and guts scene that other writers always fall in to the trap of doing. Good horror doesn't need gore to be clever and frightening, and most importantly thought-provoking.
Finally, this book has a great twist to it. You may see it coming, and you may not, but on re-reading this book you will be saying 'Aaaah - that is why ....' at various points. And this is why i still love this book. Every once in a while i can pick it up and really enjoy it, even knowing the ending!
If you enjoy this book then you really must read the sequel as well.
It is called the Ghosts of Sleath.
But as for Haunted - it is one of my all time favourite horror books.And if you like James Herbert's early books, or Stephen King's earlier titles then you will love this book. I cannot recommend this book enough!!
on 15 September 2012
I wonder what it would be like to actually be HAUNTED by James Herbert? Ghostly rats with clinking chains on the stairway, a misty sepulchral fog swirling out of your closet, the dark moon lighting the shadows of a magic forbidden cottage and a jolly bestselling horror author creeping up behind you and saying "Boo!". Anyway, enough of that...
David Ash is a paranormal investigator, or perhaps a paranormal de-bunker, going out to cases with the intention of discovering a non-supernatural cause for whatever problems have arisen. Here, he takes on a job at an isolated country house called Edbrook, where the Mariell family are having problems with apparitions and other ghostly phenomenom. And, essentially, thats the plot...
HAUNTED confuses me a little, it disappoints me. Reading many of the reviews at the time of its release, it was apparently met with great acclaim; "terrifying", "spine-tingling", "original and frightening, a splendid book". Did I miss something? The book is undoubtedly quite compelling, and Herberts simple style keeps you reading, insofar that I finished this in only two days, but, on completion, looking back, I wonder, what really happened? There are three ghostly incidents in the book and none are particularly memorable, or original. There are some good atmospherics and imagery used in classic supernatural style, but its not really that difficult to create pathos, and Herbert just seems to have taken all the ingredients of the gothic ghost story and fitted them in to his rather mundane jigsaw. Theres a psychic link bit lifted straight from THE SHINING, and for the "exceptional" twist ending, he's just re-used his own gimmick from THE SURVIVOR and twiddled it about a bit. I guessed this twist around fifty pages before it is revealed and it came across as pedestrian and expected [admittedly similar devices have been used in later films such as THE OTHERS and THE SIXTH SENSE]. In addition, there are some things that just don't make any sense; I mean, for instance, how can a ghost drive a car? Never really explained, and creates a big unbelievable slice of not-very-well-thought-out pie.
The novel is very visual, and, really, in parts I could almost have been reading a screenplay; indeed HAUNTED was originally intended as a feature to be screened on the BBC, but it fell through, and only the novel [apparently written side-by-side with the screenplay] made it through. Ironically, it has since been filmed, independently, and not by the BBC.
I didn't entirely dislike HAUNTED, I was just disappointed by its empty feel and its hackneyed plotline. Nevertheless, its a fast and entertaining read, but ultimately, a forgettable one. The character of David Ash, paranormal investigator, cropped up again in THE GHOSTS OF SLEATH, and Herberts new novel, ASH.
on 30 August 2012
By chance I read this novel last week, as Ash, the third novel featuring the lead character in this book, is comming out about now after a long wait.
Haunted is a fairly short read, and - coming to it years after it was written - the plot does not feel that original to me, but may well have been at the time. But that doesn't matter very much, because it is well written, conscise, and engaging, so it still reads well.
I don't like giving away endings or too much details during a review, but this is about a supernatural investigator who has his scepticism severely challenged. There's quite a nice backstory to him, although by comparison to Herbert's other novels, less than is usual for his key protagonists. Maybe he had it in mind when he wrote this one that the character and the idea has repeatability and he wished to keep back a little of Ash's history for the future.
Herbert is very good at moving events on slowly but definitely, he doesn't steamroller you with so much information you get lost in the plot. He likes to let the flavour develop and once you latch onto his style, its very comfortable reading his writing. Its both intelligent and consistent, and the horror or drama elements he doesn't overplay so that they retain a nice psychological edge and don't descend into gore or what I've heard called 'schlock'.
You'll probably wind up wanting to know more about David Ash at the end of this, and wanting a bit more information about the ending itself. I don't know if the next Ash novel (the Ghosts of Sleath, sitting on my shelf patiently) provides the latter, but its sure to provide more about him. The organisation Ash works for also has a lot of potential for development.
I'm giving this three stars because it is a little bit too truncated, and reads like part one of a bigger novel to me, and I know Herbert has another two stars he can add to this within his considerable gifts and reach. But I recommend it, and like it.
on 14 October 2011
This was my first James Herbert novel, and it won't be my last. It may have been a short book, but it packed quite a spooky punch! Its basic plot centres around the good old haunted house - is it or isn't it? - but Herbert throws in enough thrills and chills to make it a genuinely scary read.
Its central character is David Ash, a Psychical Research Institute investigator with a dark past, an alcohol problem and a deeply sceptical attitude. Of course, things run deeper than they seem... When he is sent to Edbrook, a supposedly 'haunted' house in the countryside, he is determined to prove, as always, that the spooky goings on have a rather more prosaic cause.
Within three days, his life will have been turned upside down. Three nights of nightmarish horror that even he can't explain. Three days of struggling to understand the Mariell family: beautiful Christina, mischievous Simon and paternal Robert, and their downtrodden Nanny Tess. What is going on in this house? Who is playing games, and why? Is he falling for Christina? And why do dreams of the strange night before his drowned sister's funeral continue to plague his sleep?
Herbert does a wonderful job of creating suspense and repeatedly ripping the rug out from under the reader's feet. I found my mind working over and over everything that had happened so far, trying to work out what was going on, and even the fact that I'd semi-suspected the big twist didn't make it any less shocking. There are a few flashback scenes, some dark, some not, but rather than detracting from the pace they had just the right balance of intrigue and information. In finest horror style, even the last page threw a final punch that left me reeling a little bit.
Though it lacked the deeper themes and sickly horror of Stephen King, this was a pithy, exciting little novel that kept me gripped, gave my mind a work-out, and will stay with me for a while yet. Recommended.
on 5 September 2005
In "Haunted" James Herbert has taken us back to horror basics with a tale of a creepy mansion house, creaking floorboards, strange goings on and mysterious ghosts.
David Ash is a paranormal investigator, although he prefers to be known as an irregular normal investigator. As part of his role with the Psychical Research Institute he is tasked to make a visit to the remote stately home of Edbrook, where the occupants have requested he investigate some strange happenings. Edbrook, inhabited by the Marriell family, is the archetypal haunted house; there's a snarling evil looking dog who takes an instant dislike to Ash, shadowy figures who flit through the gardens, a stagnant pond with a aura of malevolence about it and so on.
Things go from bad to worse for Ash, as he finds himself witnessing all sort of horrific sights, being chased through the woods and finding himself being attacked in the cellar.
The book is quite short, only 250 or so pages, and this is where I felt it sort of lost its way. It's not really a short story and at the same time there's not enough flesh on the bones to make it a credible novel in its own right. There are some attempts to lay some background on the David Ash character but for me this doesn't work. Some of the passages are just too sketchy to really get into and some of the characters just too minimally described. I didn't buy any of the relationship between Ash and the head of the Psychical Research Institute, Kate McCarrick and likewise the relationship between Edith Phipps (a medium at the Institute) and Ash seemed unlikely to say the least.
What does work though are the sections in the house when Ash is investigating the hauntings. Although the elements Herbert uses here are as old as the hills, he still writes about them extremely effectively. Reading these sections when alone in the house is more than a little bit scary.
All in all not a bad old book, but I have read better from Mr Herbert.
on 3 October 2012
David Ash, a cynical and jaded investigator of the paranormal (or `irregular-normal') heads out to a country house to investigate - and disprove - a tale of a haunting. It's a nice set up, as in this disbelieving ghost hunter figure, there's both a great knowledge of the supernatural and an immense scepticism. As such he can spout of all the ghostly rules that a book like this needs, while at the same time being totally shocked when things start to get out of hand. Indeed the world weary man with a scarred past is a type which normally features in crime novels (the opening on the train actually reminded me of Michael Caine at the beginning of `Get Carter', except he was going North while Ash is heading West), but it works so well in a ghost story setting too.
The ridiculously generic title tells you the type of tale this is going to be, and on that score it never disappoints. There are things going bump in the night, situations which aren't what they first appear and a big, terrifying conclusion. To be fair I guessed what the twist would be about halfway through, but it didn't really harm my enjoyment - in fact, getting to watch all the pieces slip into place, may have made it even more fun. This is a short, sharp and scary story (albeit, with a little bit of padding), which I would definitely recommend if you have a couple of hours spare and feel like some chills.
on 15 April 2013
I have always been a James Herbert fan but felt some of his novels went off the boil a bit, came back to him when I saw Haunted on Kindle and gave him another go I really enjoyed it I couldn't put it down which lead me onto Ghosts of Sleath and Ash both good reads, such a pity he is no longer with us
on 13 August 2015
Not being a great fan of ghost /psychic stories which is why I have never got around to reading the David Ash novels by James Herbert. I am a big fan of his work and am currently re-reading all of his published works and have only got the David Ash stories left.
It was a reasonable story with some good action, but even being a fan of the author the story still did little for me. It followed what is the normal ghost story plot line of sceptic sent to investigate supposed haunting, discovering an underlying tragedy of the homeowners, struggle against some possible ghosts and finally realisation of the situation.
The plot line of Haunted did have what could have been a good twist towards the end, but it had been so well trail blazed beforehand that there was no surprise element left when it finally happened. What was lacking for me was the tension, shock and gore from James’s earlier novels on which I cut my teeth as a read of horror fiction.
If this had been the first novel I had read by a new author I would not be reading any more of them, but will I read the other two just to complete the James Herbert set... I just don’t know. Certainly I will not be rushing to read them, I may get round to it eventually.