James Herbert, OBE (8th April 1943 - 20th March 2013) was one of Britain’s most bestselling and prolific horror novelists. His stories are notable for their highly descriptive narratives and graphic depictions of sex, carnage, and destruction. His first book, The Rats
, was rejected by several publishers, but was finally published in 1974, and sold out within three weeks, despite (or because of) widespread criticism from reviewers for its graphic depictions of mutilation and death, some going as far to label it as social commentary about the government’s neglect of the post-war London suburbs and the underclasses as too extreme. At the time of his death, he had written 24 novels, several short stories, and even one graphic novel, The City
. Some of his works have been adapted into other media, most notably The Rats
, which was adapted into the film Deadly Eyes
in 1982, and even into a 1985 computer game, titled… ''The Rats''
for the Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum.
- The Rats (1974)
- The Fog (1975)
- The Survivor (1976)
- Fluke (1977)
- The Spear (1978)
- Lair (1979)
- The Dark (1980)
- The Jonah (1981)
- Shrine (1983)
- Domain (1984)
- Moon (1985)
- The Magic Cottage (1986)
- Sepulchre (1987)
- Haunted (1988)
- Creed (1990)
- Portent (1992)
- The Ghosts of Sleath (1994)
- '48 (1996)
- Others (1999)
- Once (2001)
- Nobody True (2003)
- The Secret of Crickley Hall (2006)
- Ash (2013)
- By Horror Haunted (1992)
- James Herbert's Dark Places (1993)
- Maurice and Mog (cut from some early editions of Domain)
- Breakfast (cut from some early editions of ''Domain)
- The Ghost Hunter (excerpt from Haunted)
- Halloween's Child
- They Don't Like Us
- Cora's Needs
Works by James Herbert provide examples of:
- After the End: Played with in '48 and Domain.
- An Astral Projection Nota Ghost: The plot of Nobody True.
- Anti-Hero: Herbert protagonists usually fall between Type II and III. A notable exception is Joe Creed, who comes off as a mix of I and IV, and given the tongue-in-cheek tone of Creed, these traits make him seem like a borderline Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist.
- Asshole Victim: This comes up quite a lot. Many minor characters are fleshed out and some of them are revealed to be rather unlikable and unpleasant, even depraved at worst. They often die horribly. This isn't a strict rule, however, as some other minor characters are more sympathetic, and some actually live.
- Badass Normal: Most of Herbert's heroes are these.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- Body Horror: Others is quite notable for this, as the hero was himself born hideously deformed and later discovers a large group of unfortunates with defects even more repulsive and horrifying than his who are kept as lab rats.
- Book Ends: At the beginning of Domain Culver, Dealey and Kate manage to get into the government shelter in the nick of time while everyone around them is killed either by the nukes or rats, or are exposed to lethal amounts of fallout. By the end of the novel, the three of them are the only survivors of the government shelter and they are saved in the nick of time by three RAF Puma helicopters before they are overrun by the rats, though Kate loses a hand and Dealey is seriously wounded by the rats.
- The Cavalry: Culver, Dealey and Kate are ultimately rescued by three RAF Puma helicopters who pick them up from the Thames, in the middle of a devastated London, before the rats can get them.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Joe Creed from Creed is described as looking a little like a sleazy Mickey Rourke. This, however, was written before Rourke went back to boxing, and subsequently had reconstructive surgery...
- Crapsack World
- Daylight Horror
- Demonic Possession: Shrine is centred around a little girl who is an apparent "faith healer", but who turns out to be possessed by the vengeful spirit of a wicked nun.
- Also this is apparently what happens in the ending of ''The Jonah".
- Determinator: The traveler in "The City." Not even having to kill his own wife will cause him to pause in his quest.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: By the truckload.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Whenever this happens, it's usually Fan Disservice.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Frequently.
- Half-Human Hybrid:
- Thom Kindred from Once... is the son of a human male and a faerie woman.
- A more horrifying example occurs in Domain, where the protagonist discovers that a giant mutant rat, the hideous "Mother Creature", has given birth to what appear to be rat/human hybrids. A group of these, fully grown and capable of speech and tool use, appear in the semi-canonical sequel, The City.
- Humans Are Bastards
- Infant Immortality: Often horrifically inverted.
- From Bad to Worse: Oh, yes.
- Knight In Sour Armour: This is almost a requirement for a Herbert protagonist.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: The mutant rats in his Rats trilogy.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat
- Mummies at the Dinner Table
- Papa Wolf: Some of Herbert's protagonists go into this mode when defending children. Even Joe Creed, who is a deadbeat dad, and a coward besides, who finds his son "obnoxious"(with some justification), goes into this mode when the boy is kidnapped.
- Posthumous Character/ Posthumous Narration: Nobody True.
- Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism
- Those Wacky Nazis: A huge conspiracy of these appear in The Spear as the main antagonists.
- Trauma Conga Line: Domain. It starts off with five nukes being dropped on London, then survivors being attacked and devoured alive in an underground rail tunnel by outsized, carnivorous mutant rats, and that's just the first act. Not once do the characters get any genuine respite from all the horror.
- Two Beings, One Body: The mother rat from the The Rats has two heads.