Ash by James Herbert
Review by Jacqui Slaney
Though I have read lots of James Herbert in the past, I have not read any of his recent work. Having recently reread the Rats trilogy and hearing of the writers sad demise, I thought I would try it.
This is the description:
Ash is James Herbert’s most controversial novel to date, and will make you wonder what is fact and what is fiction. They were miscreants with black souls, roaming the corridors and passageways. Infamous people thought long-deceased. Hiding and nurturing their evil in a basement full of secrets so shocking, they would shake the world if they were ever revealed. David Ash, ghost hunter and parapsychologist, arrives at Comraich Castle – a desolate, ancient place with a dark heart – to investigate a series of disturbing events. An incorporeal power has been ignited by a long-ago curse, fed and now unleashed by the evil of those who once inhabited this supposed sanctuary – and by some who still do. Yet their hour of retribution is at hand . . .
Not having read the previous two books with this main character, I did wonder if I would struggle to understand any recurrent plot lines, but apart from references to Ash’s terrible experiences and people that died, this was not a problem.
The idea of people hiding from the world in an isolated Scottish castle where strange and evil things are happening seems a perfect setting for a horror story.
The castle is looked after by the Inner Court a mysterious cabal of influential and wealthy people who decide for the sake of their ‘guests’ what they call the inmates of the castle that these strange happenings need to be looked into especially after one particularly gruesome attack.
David Ash as an experienced investigator agrees to journey to the castle to see if he can sort out the problem for them.
So all the elements are there, and with the author’s pedigree, you would expect an excellent story, but I am sorry to say I was soon disappointed.
The story did not flow for me, with the writing being somewhat jumpy and going from very descriptive to not descriptive at all. I also found myself at times with not much sympathy with the main characters, David and the doctor he soon falls in love with. There are also instances where some of the guests from the castle turn out to be well known celebrities, which do not add a lot to the story, for example, the strange talk with Lord Lucan.
There are scenes, which are good, where Ash gets surrounded by the inhabitants of the basement for example, but overall you are left with a lot of times when you would have liked more time spent on certain characters and scenes.
I did finish the book though I struggled at times with it, mainly as I am stubborn and then felt I had to as it was the last book written by the author.
If you are a James Herbert fan, then it may be worth reading just for fact it is one of his books, though definitely not his best.
6 out of 10