Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Ghosts of Sleath by James Herbert


The late James Herbert wrote awesome horror novels and supernatural thrillers. I much prefer his books over some of the well known American horror writers whose books invariably end up as remainders. James Herbert knew what made for some good old-fashioned thrills, and his prose always crackled with imagery. The Ghosts of Sleath is a favorite from 1994. This is the second of three novels featuring the character David Ash, although each book can be read separately (the others are Haunted and Ash). Psychic investigator David Ash delves into the spooky events that are traumatizing a community in the Chiltern Hills. On the surface, Sleath is a pleasant town, but a deep dark secret plagues the town and it may very well destroy everyone who lives there. Ash presses on with his investigation and then bodies start showing up – and ghosts. There are lots of ghosts, and they aren’t friendly. Herbert wasn’t the type of horror writer to dwell on gruesome images, although those images are present, the horror builds through the eyes of his characters. The Ghosts of Sleath is a virtuoso piece of writing from Herbert, a genuinely spooky and unsettling book. I appreciate all of Herbert’s many fine novels, and I recommend them all. But for those readers who have yet to sample his books I recommend The Ghosts of Sleath as the perfect Halloween fare – scary and memorable. Or you can read Haunted, The Ghosts of Sleath and Ash in that order as they were published. The thrills will definitely keep you awake at night.

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