The Rats by James Herbert


The Rats, James Herbert, 1974

My favorite quote: “Harris smiled thinly at him. ‘Are there any safe places around here anymore?’”

Notable characters: Harris, an art teacher; Mr. Foskins, the Minister of Health; Stephen Howard, a researcher; Ferris, an exterminator

Most memorable scene: Karen Blakely and her baby. Yikes. That’s all I’m gonna say about that …

Greatest strengths: One of the things that impressed me most about this novel is how smoothly it relays backstory and exposition. In lesser hands, backstory can feel stilted and … removed. But Herbert does it with great finesse and aplomb. An example can be seen when he gives us the history of the character Mary Kelly. At first, you wonder where he’s going with things, but soon, you find yourself so wrapped up in it you don’t really care

Standout achievements: This book is unflinching in its portrayal of violence, mutilation, and death. I call this a standout achievement because, as a lifelong lover of horror, I rarely react to the things I read — but let me tell you guys, there were times my skin crawled and my stones wanted to crawl right into the safety of their fortress of NOPE … that’s saying something

Fun Facts: This was James Herbert’s first novel … and the first one I read

Other media: The 1982 film, Deadly Eyes

What it taught me: Critics and consumers absolutely lambasted this book when it came out. They rebuked it for its violence. They called it cheap for its excess of gore. They very publicly called James Herbert’s morals and sanity into question. They feared for their children’s delicate sensibilities. In short, it was a sh*tshow. And the result of all that derision? The paperback sold out in three weeks (it had a 100,000 copy print-run) and a star (James Herbert) was born. In the words of The Observer, this dirty little book “irrevocably mutated British horror.” Take from that what you will

How it inspired me: What really inspires me here is the author himself. The man’s got guts

Additional thoughts: The theme here is clear: neglect of the underclass. I think that applies as much now as when this novel was written. That it resonates so powerfully nearly 50 years later says something about its precision and forethought

Haunt me: alistaircross.com

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: http://alistaircross.com ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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