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Literature / Ash

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The final published novel by James Herbert, released 2012. Years following the events of Haunted and The Ghosts Of Sleath, David Ash, parapsychologist and veteran Skeptic No Longer, continues his work for the Institute of Psychical Research. Outwardly recovered from the trauma induced by the horrors of Sleath, he remains a somewhat solitary professional. Commissioned by a covert organisation known as the Inner Court to investigate an apparently supernaturally induced act of grievous bodily harm, he is flown to Scotland, where stands Comraich Castle, a highly budgeted stronghold whose luxurious yet tightly secure environs house a community of high profile dissidents whose reasons for retreat from society range from sordid to sinister. A palpable atmosphere of menace, grotesque manifestations and an apparent tendency of the castle to rouse inordinate violence lead Ash to the castle dungeons, where float a conflagration of black spectral orbs. Back in London, Ash's boss, Kate Mc Carrick, learns of the power of the Inner Court, and the monstrous secret that awaits Ash…


"Underground is our containment facility. It's where we keep our tropes..."

  • Ambiguously Gay: Gordon Dalzell, Comraich’s driver, his partner Graham Hamilton, and nurse Rachel Kranz.
  • Bastard Girlfriend: Played for Drama with nurse Rachel Krantz, who exploits and domineers emotionally vulnerable Delphine.
  • Better as Friends: Since the Sleath incident, Ash had intermittent affairs with his boss, Kate Mc Carrick.
  • Cats Are Mean: A brood of potentially lethal wildcats inhabit the land surrounding the castle.
  • Chaotic Evil: The psychic malignancy in Comraich causes quite a bit of this.
  • Curse: Comraich's history features a particularly vicious one.
  • Dark Is Evil: Malignant spectral orbs drain light from around them.
  • Eye Scream: The fate of Comraich’s fourteenth century laird. Also done in self-defence by Ash to a crazed war criminal, exiled in Comraich, who nearly throttles Ash to death.
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  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The wildcat-ravaged corpse of apprentice assassin Eddy Nelson is, by some spectral means, still able to walk and talk.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Ash and Dr Delphine Wyatt, Comraich’s psychologist.
  • The Grotesque: Delphine's privately attended charge Lewis has a rare deformity which renders his skin transparent. An unexpected first encounter frightens him more than Ash.
  • Hate Plague: The castle’s recent tendency to nurture anger and violence somewhat resembles this.
  • Haunted Castle: Comraich, ferociously so.
  • He Knows Too Much: Ash, as he gradually suspects, but his planned assassination is prevented by Lord Edgar’s change of heart.
  • Hidden Back Up Prince: The severely deformed Lewis, really named Louis, was secretly born to Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Believed by his parents to have died, he was secretly raised at Comraich.
  • Jack the Ripper: Is revealed to have been secretly caught and imprisoned in Comraich.
  • King On His Death Bed: Lord Edgar Shawcroft-Draker, the dying laird of Comraich Castle.
  • Large and in Charge: Brusque, boorish Sir Victor Haelstrom.
  • Love at First Sight: Ash quickly senses a frisson between himself and Delphine.
  • Magnetic Medium: The castle dungeons hold the unnamed physically and mentally disabled daughter of Unity Mitford and Adolf Hitler, who acts as a conduit for the malign spectral forces within the castle.
  • The Mole: Professional assassin Cedric Twigg, who plans to blow up Comraich Castle.
  • Ms. Exposition: The clandestine history of the Inner Court is explained to Kate by her old friend Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Gloria Standwell.
  • Parental Abandonment: Delphine, as well as her charge, Lewis.
  • Professional Killer: Cedric Twigg and his protégé Eddie Nelson.
  • The Swarm: At one point, all the food currently being consumed in the castle briefly turns into loads and loads of maggots.
  • Together in Death: The spirit of Princess Diana, visible to the psychic Ash as a serene blue shade, surrounds her lost son Louis, and appears more lucidly on his death, to escort him to the afterlife.
  • Would Hit a Girl: For the first time in his life, Ash raises his hand to a woman, partly because of Comraich's infectious psychic malignancy, partly in defence against nurse Krantz's vicious onslaught.

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