One of my discoveries was, of course, James Herbert. He's still around and writing away, though I'm not sure when his newest book will be released. It's rumored to be the third David Ash title, so I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on book 2, The Ghosts of Sleath. I'm not sure why this one doesn't get much attention, seeing as how it's creepy and totally amazing, and it's the follow-up to Herbert's Haunted, one of my favorite horror reads ever.
And, I'm forewarning you, but unfortunately the book is out of print in the US (even though Haunted is not). It is, however, still available in the UK, which means that if you're determined (like I would be) you can special order it through various channels, or you can just hunt it down used (so worth it).
Here's some info on the book if I've caught your attention:
Paranormal investigator David Ash returns in this chilling and atmospheric sequel to Haunted. Ash specializes in investigating and disproving paranormal activity, but he is still suffering the ill effects of his investigation three years ago at Edbrook. Still, cynical and slightly too reliant on his flask of vodka, he is one of the best the Psychical Research Institute has on staff. It is with some hesitation that the institute sends David out to the village of Sleath where multiple hauntings have been reported. The local vicar’s daughter has requested the institute’s help after her own father admits to having seen one of the specters. It begins with the death of a local woman’s son. After the funeral she becomes a shut-in unwilling to leave or even admit guests. It’s not that she’s upset by her loss, it’s that she believes her son has been visiting her from beyond the grave. Then, a local teenage girl wakes to find her childhood abuser standing over her in her sleep. The man died in prison not long after being sentenced, though. Something is very wrong in the village of Sleath and it’s David’s job to uncover the dark secrets behind these events. Herbert is great at combining psychological horror with the truly grotesque.
Herbert writes my favorite kind of horror: the kind that sneaks up on you. He's got some amazingly horrifying imagery as well. I think the combination of the quiet horror plus the gore is an effective one for me because the underlying creepiness gives you that hair-raising feeling and then he throws the really gory stuff at you all at once -- kind of like someone jumping out of a closet when you're walking around a quiet house at night and you're already sort of worked up and creeped out. It's the best of both worlds and it allows you to really get into the story knowing that the scary stuff is coming, and being on your toes waiting for it to hit.
I highly recommend any and all of his stuff to anyone looking for a great horror read. As I said, this is the follow-up to Haunted, which you can read more about on here.