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The Ghosts of Sleath

16 Dec

Just as Stephen King is regarded as the best and most popular living American horror writer, James Herbert is arguably the finest living British author in the horror genre. A contemporary of King’s, Herbert also made his debut at around the same time – the mid-seventies – with his horror novel Rats. A chilling disaster novel featuring giant, man-eating rats, Herbert’s first book is very different from many of the later books which cemented his reputation at the forefront of supernatural fiction. Today, he is better known for supernatural scares rather than the science fiction horror of Rats and his other early novels, The Fog, Lair and Domain. The Survivor and Shrine, for example, are ghost stories, whilst in Haunted Herbert introduced the psychic investigator and ghost hunter David Ash, who was later to reappear in The Ghosts of Sleath. Other novels by Herbert could almost be classed as straight thrillers, with few traditional horror elements. Books that can be included in this category are The City, Sepulchre and Spear, all of which include conspiracy theories or unsolved mysteries at their heart. All of this demonstrates that Herbert, like King, is actually a hugely versatile as well as talented writer, not restricted by genre labels. Another thing that Herbert has in common with King, as the recent BBC adaptation of his novel The Secret of Crickley Hall shows, is that he is fast becoming the darling of film and TV.

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