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Not one of Herbert's better novels
on 11 February 2009
No, Chris Hall, you are not alone in giving this two stars. This novel was originally published in 1992 and, to me, reads like it. Had I read it at the time I might have found it better than I did but, having read many other books containing an end of the world as we know it scenario, it felt decidedly lame. Which is a great shame as James Herbert is very good at making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Not all the time but this book neither worried nor enthralled me. There is very little sense of genuine atmosphere, or dread, here and I didn't care enough about the characters to be concerned about what may eventually happen to them.
The story is basically very simple. A climatologist suffers an unusual accident, the world is in the grip of major natural disasters, there are two unusual children who can help the world and a nasty Louisianian priestess who wishes them ill. Even the descriptions of the natural disasters are lacklustre. No, I wouldn't particularly want to be caught in an earthquake in London but he doesn't even manage to make that sound particularly horrible. For a writer who has given such graphic descriptions of rats eating babies, dogs crawling along corridors on the stumps of their legs (see - I remember all of those very well and I no longer even have the books) he does a very poor job here.
It is certainly not a horror story. I read "The Rats", "The Dark" and "The Fog" at an impressionable age and can recall even now how unnerved they made me feel then. Indeed, I can still remember a great many of the details, as written above. I will struggle to remember anything much about this and certainly won't be having any sleepless nights. At least I'm not in a total minority. I finished it but only because I try to make a point of finishing books, just to see how it pans out. Had I lost the book in the middle of reading it it wouldn't have bothered me.