James Herbert died today. He was sixty-nine years old.
My dad was a fan. In fact Moon and The Magic Cottage are probably the only two novels I saw him read. Ever. Years later – when I read both of these for myself – I thought if that was as far as my dad dipped his toe into the library of books the world had to offer, he could have done a lot worse.
I read a dozen of Herbert’s novels, and while he didn’t hit the nail squarely on the head each time, he was one of the few authors I would keep going back to every now and then, because he could always be relied upon to deliver a good, solid story, and I knew that he was capable of great things. The Fog is one of my favourite books of any genre, and definitely in the top handful of horror tales I have ever read.
He is often – unfairly, in my opinion – compared to Stephen King; partly because they both had their first novels published in 1974, but mostly because they both wrote broadly in the horror genre, albeit on opposite sides of the Atlantic pond. But the similarities really end there.
Herbert was (almost exclusively) a balls-to-the-wall horror writer, and he didn’t pull any punches with his prose. Having said that, he was never gratuitous just for the sake of it, and he didn’t care about cheap shocks either. He wrote it that way because that’s how he saw it, and I have always admired him for that.
Sigh, he is sorely missed by me too! My first ever horror book was The Dark by Herbert. I was only 12 or so, I got funny looks from the librarian when I borrowed it! It appalled and thrilled in equal measures! Fabulous post 😉👏
Hi Lisa – thanks for dropping by. The Dark is a great read. It’s not Herbert’s best (obviously that is The Fog, which is fantastic), but he did have a sense of gravitas and style that few authors are able to replicate.