Horror writer James Herbert wrote fabulously bloodthirsty novels about killer rats and nuclear war. But the weather is famously of central importance to the English psyche.
So it's no surprise that one of our most chilling authors of recent decades also drew upon the force of nature in several of his novels.
In The Fog (1975), the action opens with an earthquake that tears open the high street of a charming village in southern England. Many villagers fall into it.
Those who are (un)fortunate enough to be rescued go insane, driven mad by the cloud emerging from the chasm. The same fog attacks such scions of respectable society as a vicar, and it takes its toll on a poacher, too.
A scientific rationale will emerge during the novel for the cause of the fog.
It's a far from natural occurrence and, in an early sign of man's negative effects on the environment, it is food for thought that the way we treat our planet can have profound and disturbing consequences.
This theme is taken up on a global scale in Portent (1992), where odd environmental events occur all over the world. British climatologist James Rivers investigates what appears to be a number of natural occurrences, finding them to be uncannily linked.
The action is presented as a battle between darkness and light, but it is intriguing that Herbert chooses to portray this struggle via a series of environmental events: earthquakes, sandstorms, volcanic eruptions, hailstorms and forest fires.
The link that makes Rivers suspicious is that each is preceded by the mysterious appearance of dazzling lights.
Just as in The Fog, where our treatment of the environment through scientific experiments that go wrong puts us in danger, in Portent man's response to our natural world lies at the heart of the story.
Twins Josh and Eva have the power to enter each other's thoughts and communicate, whether they are on other sides of the world or together at home.
It is their power that will enable the light to fight back against the human powers of darkness seeking to use the natural elements to put mankind in the kind of peril that James Herbert always describes so well in compelling action and chilling description.
I just love his fiction.
The weather is a topic of national debate for the English: if it isn't raining, we're usually discussing when it will tip down next, and if it is raining (which it very often is!) we're often to be found gathered in high streets or on village greens debating how long it will last.
We love weather here in England, and any horror fiction that draws upon that fact is bound to have a special place in our hearts!
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If you’ve enjoyed this article, you might be interested reading in my review of The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature.
Or you might like to take a look at my article about Creativity and Darkness (Genius and Inspiration in Horror Fiction).
If you fancy something different, you might like to take a chance on my review of The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall.
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