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4.0 out of 5 stars
James Herbert - Master of Chills, 13 May 2013
The Fog was the first James Herbert novel I read as a teenager. I mistook it for the novelisation of the John Carpenter movie. It was not until chapter three that I foolishly realised I was reading an original story. I enjoyed the novel so much I wanted to seek out more of his work. Moon, The Magic Cottage and Shrine came next. I was hooked from that moment on, and have anticipated and relished each new publication ever since.
The Fog is a remarkable second novel by the master of chills. John Holman works for the Department of Environment. He is sent to a Wiltshire village near Salisbury Plain to investigate trodden land owned by the MoD. A psychotic induced fog escapes from a crack in the ground and circulates the inhabitants of the village. The fog soon extends to the Capital. In a race against time Holman and allies attempt to locate and entomb the nucleus before the mustard coloured mist reaches a wider populace. In the meantime those who come into contact with the fog are turned into violent maniacs, causing death and mayhem around the city.
I recently revisited the novel on my Kindle and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it had lost none of its edge or impact to disturb. The memorable Grand-Guignol vignettes are as vivid as ever. The Fog is not as explicit compared to contemporary horror. Sadly, the novel has dated somewhat over the years but Herbert’s ability to invite the reader to interpret the dread in their own way, which can often be far more terrifying than what the author intended, is what keeps the novel prevalent.
Herbert has always been smarter and more grandiose than any of his contemporaries working in the genre, which is why he has reigned supreme since his debut novel, The Rats, was published in 1974.
Herbert’s technique has evolved over the years, his storytelling more bold and ambitious in scope over the course of his career. But The Fog - as with his debut novel, The Rats – is raw in style and brutally honest in regard to the impoverished East End of the mid nineteen-seventies.
The Fog is a nostalgic feast for the horror fan during a time when the horror novel was thriving. It is a compulsive read for aficionadas and newcomers alike.
Despite the vilified genre in which he worked, Herbert was no hack. He was award an OBE in 2010 for services to literature. He sold over fifty-two million books world-wide. Herbert was a true master of his craft.
James Herbert passed away on Wednesday 20 March 2013; he was sixty-six. Ash was the last book to be published in his lifetime. His legacy within the genre is assured; his body of work destined to become influential classics like the masters before him.