Horror Book Review: The Dark (James Herbert)

The Dark is the 7th James Herbert novel first released in 1980. For those used to his writing style this will feel like putting on a comfortable pair of old slippers. You know you need to replace them but they’ve still got a certain appeal that just relaxes you.

Uninspiring & boring for large parts, The Dark is not the strongest of his work & you’ll find yourself inadvertently skimming over paragraphs hoping to get to a more interesting part.

Bishop is a psychic investigator tasked with investigating a seemingly nondescript house where he uncovers a scene of brutal mass suicide. It turns out the events that took place inside was some form of ritual that saw the leader imbued with powers that can control the dark.

As night falls, chaos descends on London as the dark invades people’s minds turning them into killers. A husband tired of his wife nagging him, a nurse sick of the pervy old man she looks after, a little girl who doesn’t like her mums new husband…no-one is safe.

…but how do you fight the dark? Bishop, because of his findings is dragged into the middle of everything desperate to stop the chaos but hiding his own dark past.

As per most of Herbert’s work, the main character Bishop is unimaginative & a boring read. It’s impossible to picture just what he might look like as he comes across like any man ever in a horror novel. His past, an interesting idea only really serves to set up one of the more exciting moments of the book & to further his inevitable love angle.

It wouldn’t be a James Herbert story without a woman who is hard on the outside but vulnerable on the inside. His lead female characters always seem to just be waiting for the hero to come along & ‘fix’ them, it’s cringe-worthy.

There isn’t a memorable character in this book, the only highlights being the more chaotic moments. These small snippets that show off the damage the dark does are fun to read but hardly scary. They bear much similarity to The Fog (an earlier Herbert book) but with less imagination.

Far too much of this story is just the main characters spouting exposition or losing hope in the face of an evil they seem to have no hope overcoming. That question remains for the majority of the story & it does a good job of making it seem hopeless however the eventual resolution is massively disappointing.

One of the weakest James Herbert novels, overly-long with characters that are instantly forgettable.

The Dark (James Herbert)
  • 4/10
    The Final Score - 4/10
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