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  • Lair
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VINE VOICEon 16 May 2018
Lair is a sequel to Herbert's 1974 debut novel, The Rats and although it is more of the same it is very much a far more assured book than the excellent first novel. Between writing The Rats and Lair, Herbert published four other novels and his development as a writer is evident in the way Lair is structured.

The Rats simply powered along with no space for the reader to breathe but whilst Lair is also paced at a breakneck speed, it does offer several quieter character building moments. The slower build up to the mayhem is very effective, and the author teases the reader in several scenes in which characters glimpse the rats but they don't attack. Much more is made of the creatures intelligence this time around and it makes them all the more terrifying.

This time the action is moved from the London slums and takes place in and around Epping forest - there's a subplot in which the forest gets the Amnity Island treatment when the authorities try to avoid closing down the forest to tourists when the mutant rats are first discovered, but as things escalate they have no choice and the forest is evacuated.

What follows is a tour de force of horror storytelling, leading to one of the most thrilling climaxes I've ever read. Excellent.
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on 27 February 2015
The Rats was a stunning and absolutely gripping horror classic and would be very hard to follow but even though Lair isn't quite as good its still a corker in the same style as the first and nice to see a different setting this time.
Its takes a little while to get going this time but there is real anticipation and plenty of small sightings of the mutant nasties that you know it won't take long for carnage to break out.
The first real horror moment is in a graveyard and you will be pretty shocked at how graphic it is and its fingernail biting tension.
The rest of the novel is excellent but not as exiting as The Rats but when we get action it is breathtaking with some stand out moments belonging in a housing estate,the forest and a real jumpy chapter in the place they are investigating the rat problem.
The characters are very good like the first story though not as good as the previous book or the third book Domain but once again like every Herbert book we have a very strong lead character.
The finale is truly where this book gets the five star rating with a quite stunning attack by the rats on a huge house where the sheer power and size of the rats and the number of them is truly terrifying and is probably the best finale to any novel i have read.
This is as good a depiction of any end of the world type story you will ever see and even though i feel its the weakest of the three its still a classic part of a masterpiece trilogy of tension.
Once again rats will never look the same to you after this.
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on 16 August 2014
Am re-reading James Herbert, after first reading most of his books quite a few years ago as a teenager. This is my favourite of the Rats trilogy.

It is, basically, what it says on the tin: giant, mutant, killer rats running amok. A fair amount of gore and the obligatory James Herbert "love" scene.

I do like the little stories Herbert always put in his books, describing various people and their lives, tragedies etc. They generally meet a sticky end but it pulls you into the story more. I also grew quite fond of the rat with the peculiar white scar running down it's head- it seemed to have it's own little sub story going. I was routing for it by the end of book.

It is a bit dated at times, but classic Herbert and a very enjoyable read.
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on 6 October 2012
After reading `The Rats', I knew at some point that I'd be wanting to revisit the other two books of the trilogy, and as this is the first of the two sequels, it's the logical place to start (or to continue, if you'd rather...).

The main protaganist this time around is a pest controller, working for `Ratkill', a nice little set up to get us into the action, this time based in Epping Forest, where a small group of mutant rats that survived the mass extermination at the end of the previous book have been laying low and building their numbers, safely out of the sight of their natural enemy, man.

As with the previous book, I was survived just how tame the gore actually is, and how much of it there isn't. Time has moved on, I guess, but it's still a fun story, driven more by action and plot rather than character development - once again, Herbert excels at the set pieces in the book, and of course there is the obligatory early Herbert sex scene, which although still making appearances in his later books, is more sporadic. There are the usual little vignettes showing the Rats at their devious work, and these are always fun.

All in all, there's not much different here from the first book, but it's definitely worth a read if you enjoyed the previous offering. It's short, it's very easy to read (much like most of Herbert's early work), and well worth a go.

After reading this first sequel, it would be easy to think that there was nowhere to go with the mutant rat saga without creating a third book that was almost identical to the first two, but Herbert went for it, and did it in real style!
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on 14 August 2017
I purchased the Rat trilogy for my kindle as a birthday present to myself (least I get something I want) omg I adore these books, I'm a long time James Herbert anyways and read these in my late teens but as old as they are the content is still current, draws u in. Scares u enough to make you keep reading.. I'm usually a read them once kinda gal but I know these books are on my read again list
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on 3 August 2014
They are back and out for revenge, revenge against their most deadliest of enemies...us...mankind. four years on from the horror that caused hundreds of deaths in London, the RATS are wary, memories of their near extermination at the hands of the humans have been passed down to the current generation of mutant rat, their insatiable lust for human flesh and blood held back by attacking and slaughtering animals but not so many as to be greatly noticed by the human population. Now they have a new hiding place. You may never go into the woods again. REMEMBER WITH FEAR.
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on 19 February 2014
This is a bit like the literary equivalent of the early Evil Dead films. Great fun if you like that sort of thing (which I do). I read an old copy I found at a holiday cottage in the Lake District when I was about 14 and then again on my Kindle recently, and it was still just as enjoyable.

There are so many things to smile about with this book, like the way Herbert always refers to the characters by their full name, and the way these very same names give away their role within the story. I also love the way that a character can be introduced, given a long, detailed backstory and then get unceremoniously bumped off, all in the same chapter.
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on 12 March 2018
A slower build up to the onslaught helped raise the tension of the novel. I’m not sure it’s any better than the original novel, maybe it’s equal. A enjoyed this novel a lot though, the leafy Epping Forest making an interesting setting
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on 20 September 2014
I do love James Herbert. You can always rely on him to not care about having a happy ending, or a happy beginning for that matter. As the second one of The Rats trilogy it is obviously not as surprising as the first one, we all know what the rats are like and the horrific deaths they cause, but still an enjoyable read. I did cringe in places still. I'm hoping the third one Domain will be good too but surely there isn't much more than can create surprise or suspense?? Knowing there was a third book sort of gave away the ending a bit unfortunately.
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on 29 May 2013
If you read the rats and enjoyed the read, this book takes you out of the city and into the countryside. although the idea is the same the setting is different which still makes it a good read, the main characters are likeable and it's easy to settle into the story. If your a James Herbert fan and would like to know what happens next, it's worth picking up the lair for more rat infested reading, it did leave me with the urge to get the third book just to finish off the saga.
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