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review 2020-06-04 12:24
The Magic Cottage
The Magic Cottage - James Herbert

by James Herbert


James Herbert can always be relied on to present an interesting story and this is one of his best. A couple looking for a house of their own are drawn to a remote cottage called Gramarye ("magic'' in old English) in the New Forest. It's a little over their price range but in need of serious repairs, leaving room for a little negotiation. Midge, the wife, is adamant that she must have this cottage and suddenly the money to make the difference appears in a rational way. She is an illustrator of children's books and the husband, Mike, is a session musician. Jobs arise in their usual haphazard fashion. The one unusual aspect of the transaction is that the previous owner had some odd criteria for whom the cottage could be sold to detailed in her will.


Mike is a city boy, but Midge grew up in the country so she adapts to the lifestyle change fastest. Mike takes a little longer to warm to remote life, especially when unexplainable things start to happen.


Things get a little weird from the start and progress as the story goes on. To explain further would require too many spoilers, but I can say that someone else wants the cottage for their own purposes. Discovering the nature of those purposes is an important part of the plot.


My favorite character was a little squirrel named Rumbo. I have no objection to most of the human characters, but this little guy was a heart stealer. All I'll say about the ending is that there was plenty of action and drama, though the magic aspect deviated into the sensational. It made for a very entertaining read all the way through.

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review 2020-05-02 13:01
It seems that this book is like Marmite. I like Marmite, but I didn't enjoy this book.
Ash - James Herbert

David Ash is a woman-magnet, a scruffy middle-aged, alcoholic, ghost-hunter, sullen and emotionally closed off - except when he isn't (he does have a tendency to fall in love quickly and deeply throughout the trilogy). One reads the book suspecting that Ash may be a fantasy projection of James Herbert himself.

This book, while longer, isn't as good as the previous two. Most of the characters are tropes and there is no further development of the central character. Instead it's full of conspiracy, violent haunting, and revenge.

Knowing what I know now, I probably would have finished the series with book two. For anyone who wants unrelenting action and doesn't care about character arcs, the book will provide all you need.

I read some other reader reviews after posting mine on Goodreads, and some people think this is the best book EVER! Thus the Marmite comment in the title.

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review 2019-12-12 16:07
Haunted - James Herbert

I read this after "Ghosts of Sleath" so I already knew the plot to some extent. Knowing what was really happening in no way spoiled the experience, which I think shows great skill in a writer. It was spooky, strange and fast paced. A great ghost story.

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review 2019-10-21 12:25
Contrast and conflict
The Ghosts Of Sleath - James Herbert

An idyllic town plagued by darkness. A perfect woman with a terrible secret. Ash arrives to investigate paranormal phenomena at Sleath. Before he arrives in the village the sceptic encounters the first of many ghosts. Figuring out what is happening in time may be the difference between life and death.


It's a fast-paced book, full of disturbing scenes. The characters are rarely simple and the secrets stretch back for centuries. Having read this one I have ordered the prequel and the third book in the series. So yes, I definitely liked it. 

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review 2019-09-11 23:09
The Rats ★★★★☆
The Rats - James Herbert,Neil Gaiman

I feel so conflicted, because I loved this unrepentantly cheesy horror story about a mutant rat colony swarming up from the depths and taking over the city on so many levels, and yet the slightest critical scrutiny makes the whole thing fall apart. It’s a classic case of good storytelling over structure and substance. As an eventually very accomplished author’s first attempt at a novel, it’s very good, and I forgive it most of its flaws. I mean, how can I give a book fewer than four stars when it prompted me to talk about it to my dogs as I read, saying things like, “Oh, good, here’s a new character, is he going to be rat-food or rat-conqueror?”, and “A train! Are they going to eat a whole train-full of people!?!”.



I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Creepy Crawlies: Books with bugs, snakes, spiders, worms and other things that slither, scuttle or crawl, includes viruses and other parasites.


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