on 13 July 2010
I read this book long ago at the age of 16 and found it a better than average Herbert novel with all the usual ingredients mentioned so often in these reviews. As a complete sceptic on all supernatural/horror matters I thought I'd share an odd but absolutely true incident that happened to me.
I read The Dark over two days and, as an impressionable teenager, I found the parts about the creeping blackness that gradually snuffs out lights compelling. I finished the book at three AM and placed it on the bedclothes, an instant later the bedside lamp fizzed and went out leaving me in blackness. I experienced a mild chill but then realised it must simply be a coincidence, put the main light on and changed the bulb. Make of that what you will, but this is a good and entertaining read.
The Dark, James Herbert's 7th novel, almost feels like a greatest hits collection at times, combining the epic disaster scale of such novels as The Rats and The Fog, with the supernatural scares of The Survivor and The Spear. At first glance the story seems to share most similarities with The Fog, with this time a creeping darkness rather than a mist leaving a horde of insane killers in it's wake, but thankfully the additional supernatural angle makes this more than just a straight rewrite. There's a good variety of action in the novel, starting from an investigation at a haunted house before spiralling into George Romero-style hordes of zombies.
It's not perfect - the explanation of what the Dark actually is is occasionally muddled, and the ending is blink and you'll miss it fast, but the combination of action, scares, and good solid characterisation makes this a good return to form after a few hit and miss novels preceding it. A little formulaic yes, but all in all an improvement on Herbert's previous attempts.
on 19 June 2007
Is evil a force within all of us? Is it a source of energy that can be harnessed by powerful men? After a mass suicide in a normal house in a normal suburb of London things start to go wrong. Family members attack one another and strangers kill each other on the street. The feeling of evil spreads during the night over London and there is even a mass brawl at a football game leaving 100s dead. With Marshall Law installed can the government discover what is behind the dark? Is it a physical problem or one of the soul?
This book is by no means Herbert's best, but still has some good elements. The idea that everyone has evil within them and it can be harnessed is very interesting, but the book fails to really explore the concept fully. I found the characters to be a bit too generic and that the majority of the book fell into a straight chase. The parts that do succeed are the elements of horror as Herbert describes the various grisly events that the dark induces. I would recommend this book to Herbert completists only as it may put off a new reader. Herbert's 'Rats' trilogy or 'The Shrine' are far better starting points.
on 6 November 2006
I have read several of Herbert's novels but this is by far one of the best.
Some of the other reviews point out a similarity between The Dark and The Fog, but they are very different. I wont spoil either book but if you have read The Fog and found it disturbing, you probably shouldn't read The Dark!
Like many of Herbert's other novels the suspence starts from the first chapter and keeps you gripped until the end. Despite being over 430 pages long, this book could have carried on for longer, and part of me wishes that it had. I am in no way disappointed with the ending, I was just so caught up with the characters that I would have been more than happy with a few more chapters!
An excellent read and an absolute must for anyone who has read some of Herbert's other works. Also a good starting point for new Herbert fans, I am sure this book will have you hooked and eager to read more of his novels.
on 20 February 2013
I used to love reading horror books and would read them all the time, I always had a book in my hands, I could never go to bed without reading a book, then I became disabled and found that I could not hold onto a book anymore so go very depressed and thought my days of reading books were over untill I got my kindle hd for my Christmas, now I can read my beloved horror books again :-) I had read this book years ago but because I have had 3 strokes I had forgotten what it was about so decided to read it again on my kindle and OMG I had forgotten how good James Herbert is and how scary his books can be, this was a great book I could not stop reading it, so I'm now going to read the fog which I read years ago a well but cannot remember it now, that's one of the good things about my stroke it like reading the books for the first time again and its great lol
on 12 September 2001
After all the hype James Herbert receives (best British author status etc.), I decided to read this, which I did a few years ago when I was 14 or something. At the time I thoroughly enjoyed the cinematic scenarios and gory features, which fed my curiosity and desire throughout. But then I read 'The Rats' and have started to read 'The Fog'....and I'm beginning to see a pattern here somewhere. This IS 'The Rats' but in a different form !! E.g. different scenarios where malevolent evil destroys good and the main character (of course) has to stop it in the usual James Herbert (predictable)finale. THEN I read 'Shrine' and I discovered something else - the main character Fenn in that is practically IDENTICAL characteristically to Bishop in this book....and, er, Harris in 'The Rats' and, yes yet again, the main guy from 'Moon'. Mmmmm. This made me feel rather cheated to be honest, because since I read this, I can predict the characters and outcomes of all Herbert's other books. Is that just me?? Perhaps so. But all that aside, I think the descriptive quality and malevolent images evoked in this novel are intensely addictive and may leave you thirsting for more if you like this sort of thing. My favourite section is probably the opening introduction, which sets the scene wonderfully. Okay, so it was hardly going to be acclaimed for an intricate plot or original storyline, but this is full-on horrofic fun and may even send a chill or two rippling down your spine. The parapsychological jargon (some of which is deliberately difficult to comprehend in certain places) makes the book feasible, I think. Maybe it's a bit cliché and predictable (and having virtually the same story as his other books) but it really is good fun if you don't feel up to any analysis of context etc. This is his best from the five I've read, in my opinion, solely due to the dark ambience it is able to evoke within.
on 25 March 2014
I've enjoyed many of James Herbert's books and it was very sad when he died last year. Haunted, The Magic Cottage, Sepulchre, Shrine, Once... are (in my opinion) his best, a couple I really didn't enjoy, The Rats Trilogy, The Jonah, Moon, and although the rest were good, some I felt should have been better. Unfortunately, The Dark falls into that 'should have been better...'. It starts off well, with a very spooky introduction to the main character, Chris Bishop, a para-psychological investigator, (similar to David Ash), who does not believe in ghosts or the supernatural and expresses his idea that science will explain paranormal activities/hauntings. As he is hired to re-investigate a genuinely disturbing house with a tainted past, strange events of inexplicable evil, malicious and sadistic acts begin to be carried out in the local area, drawing Bishop to challenge his very beliefs. As the horrors, grow, so does the evil. So good so far, but while the first two parts are well written, spooky, clever and gripping I can't help but feel that Mr. Herbert had built up this plot without really knowing how it would end, and instead comes up with a conclusion which borrows heavily from a previous book, The Fog. (In fact I think the easiest way to sum-up The Dark would be 'A Supernatural Fog'). Another thing which grew in his books was the 'ghost-hunter' character, (without a doubt David Ash been the best), they show up with an alarming regularity, - The Survivor, Portents, The Secret of Crickley Hall, (The Dark), Haunted, Ghosts of Sleath, Ash... and barring David Ash, they all say the same things, fine, fair enough if that was James Herberts' ideas on the subject but as they occur more, it seems less of a story and more of a lecture. Anyway, apart from the re-hash of The Fog for the conclusion, (and perhaps something of a deus ex machina ending), it's an enjoyable read, (I've easily read it half a dozen times) and deserves a place on the shelf of any James Herbert fan.
on 19 December 2013
This is the fourth James Herbert novel I have read, (my first and favourite being the legend of crickley hall).
Overall I would say James Herbert knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat. He's words are powerful and make visualising the story panning out before you so simple it's easy to get caught up and carried away with the characters and their traumas and dilemmas.
Unfortunately I feel this is not one of he's better stories and towards the end did feel rather long drawn out despite all the suspense and action.
In my opinion I would have liked more detail into the 'light' mentioned briefly at the end.
The majority of the story is suspense and a big build up to the finale!! However instead of thinking 'oh wow I didn't see that coming' my reaction was 'is that it??'
James Herbert tells of a big ball of brilliant light that came from nowhere and sent the darkness back to where it came from..... The next page then goes straight into how the characters lives have move on since then and briefly notes that the light that appeared was spiritual/god like.
At no point does the book mention how the light combated the dark only that it had succeeded for the time being.
And it only hints at the involvement of god and or spirituality.
I would have liked this to be a bit more specific to fully finish off the story as it seems like James Herbert had an idea of god but decided not to run with it as it might offend others and possibly reduce sales??
Generally though I would say its a good read until the final pages and possibly could have been wrapped up a bit quicker and less drawn out.
on 6 June 2010
James Herbert is very much an "in-your-face" author whose reputation is built on the uncompromising - detractors would say gratuitous - depiction of that which we define as "horror". The horror in this novel is the eponymous Dark, which is the physical manifestation of human evil as realised by a nasty little sect based in suburban London. The Dark is released by the commitment of foul acts of deviance, and it goes on to induce other people into committing further such acts, thus increasing its' power. The fight against the Dark as it spreads through London is led by Chris Bishop, a paranormal investigator who is recruited by ageing, renowned parapsychologist Jacob Kulek, his daughter Jessica, and spiritual medium Edith Metlock.
Fellow reviews have noted similarities between this novel and Herbert's earlier work "The Fog", and there are indeed certain matches of concept between the two, but the tone of "The Dark" is much...well...darker, focused as it is more on the pursuit of pure evil than "The Fog's" plain insanity. Beyond dispute is the clear similarity between the lead character Bishop and the leads in most of Herbert's books. Fortunately, however, another Herbert constant is prevalent in "The Dark", and that is his talent for delivering impeccably-staged set pieces - the massacre at the football stadium is superb, albeit with some plainly dated references that remind us that this book was first published in 1980 - and an atmosphere of spiralling, unstoppable madness. Sex is also very much present and correct, as is to be expected from Herbert, although do be warned that it includes a scene of congress between a sickly old man and his nurse that is just plain sordid.
Some of the dialogue is pretty bad; when Bishop is explaining to Jessica how his wife ended up in a mental home after the death of their child, at one point he says, "With few preliminaries, the seance began". Nobody speaks like that even in the cruddiest Fifties B-movies! There are indeed a few clunky, "talky" scenes mainly on the subject of the Dark's origins, but on the plus side Herbert does prove his ability to create light comedy and sympathetic characters in quick order, such as with the unfortunate occupants of the car who pull up at the petrol station.
The denouement is a trifle flat, but at least makes sense, and the lead-up to it is suitably charged; all-in-all, if you like James Herbert, there is nothing in "The Dark" to turn you against him, while if you haven't read Herbert before but you like your horror racy, lurid, darkly humorous and just on the other side of squalid then this would be a fine introduction. Just don't turn the light off once you've finished it.
This British author is immensely popular for his horror fiction. Having read a number of his other books and enjoyed them, I delved into this one with much anticipation. I was not disappointed, as it is similar thematically to another of his books, "The Fog", which is one of his best books. In that book, a fog sweeps across the United Kingdom, causing those it touches to commit insane acts of mayhem. Here, a dark, amorphous entity, best described as infinite blackness, does the same.
Initially confined to Beechwood, a mansion on Willow Road and the site of mass murder and suicides, it feeds on those whom it touches and causes them to perpetrate acts of horrific violence, releasing man's most primal fears and instincts. When Beechwood is demolished, this darkness ventures out beyond the parameters of the house, causing those with whom it come into contact to act out their basest instincts and destroy those who remain unaffected. This novel engages the reader, as the protagonists in the book try to sort things out and defeat this evil entity. Well-written and interesting, devotees of the horror genre, as well as fans of the author, will enjoy this book.