This is not a great book.

But then I knew that going in.

As a teen, I read all three of James Herbert’s ‘Rats’ books and, while I didn’t remember much about the characters or narrative, I did recall that none of them are particularly brilliant.

I’ve read this again now as I wanted to see how you build on a first book to create an epic horror trilogy. (There’s a project of mine coming in 2020 which, ahem, will have something of that.) However, a good example of world/mythos building this really isn’t. It’s not even a great example of progressing what went before.

Four years after the rat attack on London, they’re at it again – only this time in the less scary setting of Epping Forest. But rather than playing with the ideas of the first book and turning them into something new, LAIR is more of a re-tread – a whole other episode rather than a follow on. There’s a new lead character butting heads with various bureaucrats anxious not to make a fuss and claiming there’s no problem. (Herbert had clearly seen JAWS). We also have a fit young lady who the hero manages to get it on with despite the chaos, and it’s clear that the whole thing is going to run a very predictable path.

The things that I always like about Herbert are done well here: the gore and the creating of odd minor characters (a flasher features prominently and – SPOILER – meets a bad end). But it’s also lumpen, with extraneous sex scenes and rubbish dialogue. So, in all crucial ways, it’s your average James Herbert book. But it’s a James Herbert novel that doesn’t build on his greatest success, instead it tries to replicate it in a not particularly interesting way.

My debut novel, THE WANNABES – which has been out of print for a little while – is now available for free. A supernatural thriller of beautiful actresses and deadly ambition in London town, it’s well worth your time. You can get your copy here!

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