Congestion gone! Sweet! Took yesterday off. Mike's working crazy long hour lately and he actually had yesterday off, so I decided to take the day off as well. We hung out and went to a movie and went out to eat last night. I'm back now, though.
Back to books! It's October and I am in the mood for some horror. Last year on a trip to Denver, I discovered this great used bookstore that had some hardcover James Herbert. Herbert, called by some the UK Stephen King, has been in the game since 1974 when his title The Rats was released. In looking into a publishing company that had released another book (not his), I had come across information on Herbert's The Secret of Crickley Hall. I ordered it and waited very impatiently for the import to arrive. You know I really like to read in the rain, and it never rains over here, but we just happened have a pretty bad snowstorm hit and I was reading Crickley in this. Made for great atmosphere and the book was super creepy. So when I found this used bookstore with copies of his hardcovers, I was more than a little excited. Moon is out of print and Haunted is available in paperback, but I like hardcovers when I can get them - I snatched them up without hesitation.
Now, I am always on the look for new horror, or even new to me horror, and was really excited after reading Crickley to discover that even though a lot of Herbert's work was published in the 80s, many of the books are still readily available. So, knowing this, I had high hopes for Haunted - you know, that it would live up to Crickley and that I would have this hidden treasure trove of horror novels to work my way through.
Haunted so exceeded my expectations in every possible way. Now, before you run out and buy it (which you all should), you should know that this is a very quiet horror story. Herbert takes his time setting the atmosphere and building the suspense up until the big revelation and the uber creepiness that occurs at the end. I savored every page of this book and honestly wish that I could find more horror like this. If you're a movie fan, think Others.
Haunted is the first story to feature paranormal investigator David Ash. Ash has been hired by an organization that investigates purported hauntings and such, specifically because he is such a skeptic. His reputation earns him an invitation to Edbrook. Nanny Tess, her niece Christina Mariell, and Christina's brothers Robert and Simon have reported some strange events at the estate and they would like David to investigate. Surprisingly, David himself witnesses the ghost on his very first evening in the home. Of course he believes that there must be a perfectly rational explanation for what he's seen and vows to figure it out.
I loved it! I loved everything about it! Strangely, in all my years reading horror, my only previous experience with Herbert had been shelving the few new titles that have made their way over here - Once..., Nobody True, and Others (nothing to do with the movie mentioned above). I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about him. I was too young to have been reading him back in the 80s, when the majority of his work came out. I think he's been sadly overlooked by the current horror readers. I've been working my way through his collection somewhat slowly, stretching out the older titles so that I have a Herbert title to read when I'm in the mood for one. Last night I began reading The Ghosts of Sleath, the second book to feature Ash. It's reported that Herbert has planned to pen a third Ash title. He's still writing, though, and I find that each of his books is pretty different from the others.
So, after all this rambling, if you're looking for a great haunted house story and you like quiet atmospheric reads - slow and steady intense build-up rather than in your face constant gore (which has its place but isn't always what I'm in the mood for), then you should run out and find a copy of Haunted. It is still available on Amazon, and you may be able to find it in used bookstores as well.