I used to love James Herbert in my 20s, but seldom read horror anymore. Someone recently handed me 'Ash', saying they'd enjoyed it. Honestly, I don't think I'll be able to finish it. James Herbert's writing is driving me nuts. It is overly descriptive, repetitive and strangely dated. I find myself unable to get really close to and care about the main character, because Herbert keeps distancing the reader from him, for instance by saying : "David thought.....", "Ash wondered".....', and then suddenly switching to "the parapsychologist smiled". We know what he does, it doesn't need constant restating. The man-woman scenes are stilted and unnatural, and the dialogue is utterly impossible (i.e. an intelligent woman - psychologist Dr. Wyatt - spills her entire life story and family history in answer to a simple question. Not likely). I find myself wanting to grab a pencil and edit as I go.
I really wanted to like this book, and part of me wants to carry on reading to see what happens , as the storyline looks promising, but I really don't think I can stand it. Mr. Herbert, what happened to your writing?? And to your editor, for that matter?
Edit 21 Aug 13 : Just read that Mr. Herbert died in March of this year - this explains a lot, I think. Maybe he really was unwell when he wrote it, and the publisher just rushed it out without editing properly (or at all??). Shame on them, too - allowing a distinguished horror career to end this way.