James Herbert’s second novel bears much resemblance to his first, The Rats. Not with the subject matter obviously but more with the style of writing. An apocalyptic event that occurs in the UK while focusing heavily on London, bland characters, a lead that is unlikable, extreme violence & plenty of sex…it’s all here & it’s such a blast.
John Holman (boring white male who is so manly it’s in his name) works for the Department of the Environment & is currently investigating the Ministry of Defence over the use of their land. On his way back through a small village, an earthquake takes place dropping most of the village into a huge hole including John’s car. He survives the accident but a mysterious fog emerges from the hole. When John is pulled from the hole he is a raving lunatic who attempts to kill himself.
He is the first victim of the fog.
The fog spreads, anyone coming into contact with it, driven insane. The results vary with many just committing suicide (the entire town of Bournemouth walks into the sea); others going on murderous rampages while others take to more shocking & deplorable acts.
It’s a very exciting read & these moments are the highlights of the book. Each one graphically told, some so much that it takes several glances to take in the full horror of what is happening. A good apocalyptic story should keep you guessing about how it’s going to end & The Fog does that wonderfully. Up until the final few pages I couldn’t see where it was going.
What is not so enjoyable are the characters that are lifeless & unimaginative. The focus is heavily on horror, so much that there is little character development. The dialogue can be corny & awkward particularly when Herbert writes about love & sex. Here he goes into some detail as our lead regularly ‘gets some’ & it can often come across a bit childish.
It’s minor complaints with a book that is way more fun than it first seems. For only being his second novel Herbert was really setting a hell of pace, something that would become more of an expectation in later books.
The Fog (James Herbert)