The Rats by James Herbert is a modern horror classic. It grabs you by the throat from the outset and doesn’t let you go until you have been thoroughly shaken, chewed up and spat out. Not to mention scratched, bitten and clawed.
It is one of a handful of novels that I’ve read more than once and enjoyed each time. And, of course, I recently read it again.
When I first read it, the cover looked like this. Which, as you can imagine, is enough to freak anybody out – let alone the impressionable 12-13 year old I was at the time. The horrific scenes described within freaked me out even more and actually caused me several troubled night’s sleep.
Now, at the more mature age of – ahem – it has assumed the status of a damned fine read and most of those horrific scenes are now just unsettling.
Of course, I was even more freaked out by the sequel – Lair. (Yes, yes, I’m gonna read that again too!)
You’d think that having made it through The Rats, that Lair would hold few new terrors. Well, it did and didn’t – if you see what I mean. I found Lair to be a much more graphic book in terms of the horrors it called to mind but by then I was able to dial down the impact of the images I pictured.
Lair is also just as much a page turner as it’s predecessor and an enjoyable read, if horror is amongst your things. But the thing that freaked me out, really scared the crap out of me, and cost me some more sleep was that I read it whilst travelling to London by train – by overnight train. I did not (and still have not) visited Epping Forest…
PS I will also be reading Domain as soon as I have finished with Lair. Oh, yes!