The Rats Paperback – 23 Apr 1999
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Remember with fear . . .
From the Back Cover
A special 40th anniversary edition of the classic, bestselling novel that launched James Herbert's career
It was only when the bones of the first devoured victims were discovered that the true nature and power of these swarming black creatures - with their razor sharp teeth and the taste for human blood - began to be realized by a panic-stricken city. For millions of years man and rat had been natural enemies. But now for the first time - suddenly, shockingly, horribly - the balance of power had shifted . . .
'The effectiveness of the gruesome set pieces and brilliant finale are all its own' Sunday TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The first of the Rats trilogy, I tore through this book in a matter of days. The way it is written is very clever indeed, an easy read that is gripping with the advance of the Rats and the increase in frequency of attacks. No punches are pulled and the writing style is tight and compelling. After reading this you WILL want to read the rest of the series. Lair and Domain bring to the fore a truly apocalyptic series about what life would be like if we were not the dominant species anymore, if we were another creatures food source. Rats are very clever and skilled creatures, adaptable and powerful in packs. When the rats you face are bigger than dogs how quickly do you think you would be overwhelmed? How painful would it be to feel long sharp teeth peeling the skin from your body?
I have enjoyed this book many times. As a reader I will often re-visit a story I've enjoyed and it gives me great pleasure to disappear into the Rats trilogy.
James Herbert's first novel, would more likely be seen as a novella now: Short and sweet it was a punchy, in-your-face book that scared the proverbial out of me for more than one reason.
Herbert is the product of an East London upbringing. Born at the tail end of WW2, he grew up playing on bomb sites and derelict buildings, wasteland left to ruin. It is these locations that inspired The Rats.
The book deals with a growing number of rat attacks in London. That's a bit obvious really. Starting with the deaths of a vagrant and pest exterminator. Soon the capital is overrun with these deadly carriers of a new plague, whose bite means certain death. We are quickly introduced to Harris, a teacher in East London. The book then begins to follow him through the escalating attacks including one that devastates the school he works in.
For me the trouble is he bases that school on the one he used to attend - St. Aloysius in Highgate. The trouble being I went there. His description of the attack in familiar rooms, corridors and playgrounds is to me truly chilling, especially as I first read the book whilst I was still studying there.
There are subsequent sequels which are good, solid tales but for me it is his first, pacy adventure that holds the reader most - not the flabby written-for-a-film-deal turgid dross that he has produced recently (The Secret of Crickley Hall...Jeez).
Read this. It is a horror story without the unnecessary dressing and so much the better for it.
Right from the off you are thrown into a world where the rats have started their attacks which are explained in great detail.
You followers story of Harris the school teacher. Immersed into the horrible underworld of rat infested London you empathise with the characters, willing them on, even those who only play a bit part in the story. From start to finish this novel had me gripped. For his first novel this is an absolute winner, especially at the offer price of 99p.
Will recommend this to all who love a good horror novel.
In The Rats, Herbert's first published novel, a new breed of rat appears in London, larger and more ferocious with a taste for human flesh. London is attacked by the beasts and it is up to a select few to try to get rid of them.
I'm not scared of rats but there is something in the way that Herbert writes that makes it chilling. His description of people being bitten by the things, skin being torn from bones, eyes being eaten while the person struggles to survive. It was genuinely chilling in a way that horror fiction doesn't normally affect me. I'm quite anesthetized to that kind of horror but James Herbert who can influence me in that way.
The Rats is a short book that is entertaining and chilling in its descriptions. I enjoyed it immensely.
I first read this in my teens as I voraciously devoured much of James Herbert's output - The Spear, The Dark, The Fog, Sepulchre, Shrine, Moon etc. At the time I really enjoyed this trashy novel of monster rats running amok through London, eating babies, eating commuters, eating tramps and cinema goers. It was in some ways an early example of the plague of flesh eating dogs/cats/rats/slugs/worms/rabbits/bats/crabs etc which followed from writers like Shaun Hutson and Guy N Smith. I graduated from this pulp fiction to writers like Stephen King, Ramsay Campbell, Thomas Harris, and discovered the works of masters like H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem with revisiting this as an adult with adult sensibilities and a literary critical eye it looks poorly constructed and tacky. I have always considered Herbert novels to be a bit small scale and parochial, but this being his first published work it is also full of cliches you can see a mile off and amateurish phrases which make me cringe. This is leagues away from Stephen King for example for quality of writing. Aspects of the plot are weak and bizarre such as the teacher Harris becoming a consultant on the rat menace, the way the menace is finally controlled and destroyed, and the final revelation of the lair.
Give this to your teenagers to read, they will love it for shock value, before they graduate on to better crafted novels and literature.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The original and the best. Read this when I was 12 & it was great re-reading it again but this time as an adult. Great story macabre story with a touch of a love story - perfect!Published 2 months ago by Bettie
Great book light reading but gripping once started found it hard to put down would recommend this as a great james herbert bookPublished 2 months ago
One of the best creature horror books,London gets attacked by giant rats ,really is good someone reading it to youPublished 3 months ago by the reader