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The Dark

Novel by James Herbert (England) 1980.

Nine months after visiting Beechwood, where thirty seven people committed mass suicide, professional 'ghost hunter' Chris Bishop is drawn into investigating three more horrific tragedies, all of which happened on the same night and on the same road as Beechwood. He soon discovers that the suicides were part of a sect led by a man called Boris Pryszlak, who not only believed that evil was a physical entity, but tried to harness it for use as a weapon.

Written at the time of his court case over research done for The Spear, this reflects well what James Herbert must have been feeling at the time. It seems trite to say so, but this is probably Herbert's darkest novel - the prose is very tightly written, almost in a concentrated form. The plot has similarities to The Fog, but this is the superior work, due to the sheer skill in his craft that Herbert had acquired by this time. It is also made more effective through the 'antagonist' being neither obvious or visible, the ultimate unseen enemy. The characters are therefore even more helpless, as they don't even know what they are fighting, let alone how. Darker and denser than his previous novel, Lair, and far more powerful than his next, The Jonah; not as famous as The Rats or The Fog, his best-known novels written at the time he was exploding onto the horror scene, and not as well-selling as later books written when he had become a household name, nevertheless this is Herbert at his most accomplished. The Rats will always be his best-known and most influential book, but this was his first true masterpiece.


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