Retro With The Rats

Today we’re happy to welcome Lilyn G. with a review of James Herbert’s classic and career defining breakout novel, The Rats. We’re stoked for this for two reasons, one, we fucking love James Herbert, and two, we fucking love Lilyn G., Captain of the Sci-Fi and Scary ship and one of our most avid and devoted supporters of fantastic sci-fi and horror fiction and someone you should be following if you’re not. DO check out her website (and follow her on Twitter), but first, check out this fantastic review of a book we absolutely love.

The Rats by James Herbert

Book Review by Lilyn G.

James Herbert’s The Rats is one of those books that, as someone who loves horror, you almost feel required to read. Doubly so if you’re someone who likes creature features. After a while of hearing about it though, if you’re like me, you start to get nervous. How often does a book actually live up to the hype? So, I held off on getting it. And held off. And – oh look – it’s on sale at BetterWorldBooks! Well, shucks, no excuse now.

Almost as soon as it was in my semi-reluctant, but still greedy and grasping hands, I had to give it a read. Fingers, toes, ankles crossed – let this be as good as everyone says it is!

I loved this book. It was pure, glorious, pulpy horror cheese.

Yeah, it’s a bit rough around the edges at times, and no, I’m not a fan of the dead-baby shtick for horrifying effect. However, the imagination and enthusiasm that this nightmare fuel is written with makes up for all of that. There are many authors who can crank out book after book and still not manage to be quite as entertaining as Herbert is with his debut.

There are a few scenes in The Rats that are going to stay with me for a very long time. It is a book that has made me very glad I don’t live in a city that contains a subway station. Living much of my life in the country meant that I always had to be on the lookout for deer bounding out in front of me. Now I’ll be thinking about giant rats with a lust for long pig doing the same thing. Even now I’m looking around anxiously at every creaking sound this old house makes, and the sound of my cats scrabbling across our hardwood floors has my imagination going wild. I’m thoroughly creeped out, and I love it.

I read to escape the real world. That and the fact that reading about things like serial killers and cannibals does nothing for me means that I tend to gravitate toward either paranormal, weird, or monster horror. Mostly I go for what I call ‘chomp’n’stomps’ (when I’m not trying to find a good possession novel). I love over-sized monsters appearing and laying waste to some random city or going toe-to-toe with a group of special forces and such. However, a book like The Rats proves that they don’t always have to be fifty feet tall to make you squeak with glee. Regardless of the size, these types of novels are formulaic, ridiculous, and quite often exactly what I need.


Follow Lilyn on Twitter and do go check out Sci-Fi and Scary. You’ll be glad you did.

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