Book name: The Fog
Author: James Herbert
Publisher: New English Library
Format: ebook, print, audiobook
Publication Date: 1975
Star Rating: 5/5
No one produced more memorable horror-chiller novels in the Seventies and Eighties than James Herbert.
He also enjoyed a lengthy and successful writing career right up until his death in 2013.
James Herbert was one of my favourite horror authors when I was growing up, and I still love going back to his early works today. I get something new from each of them every time.
The Fog begins in a sleepy English village. It’s morning and the day’s routine is barely getting started when a huge fissure opens up down the middle of the high street.
An earthquake, not entirely unheard of in England but certainly highly unusual, has triggered the movement.
People and buildings are sucked down into the abyss. John Holman’s car teeters on the edge, but he is able to free himself, climb back up and rescue a young girl on the way.
A mysterious fog emerges from inside and it sends Holman temporarily mad. He is hospitalised, but others who encounter the fog are not so lucky.
The fog’s dense, airless feel spurs people and animals on to kill or maim others or even themselves. A vicar, a poacher, a herd of cattle and a class of schoolboys all fall prey to the dark power of the fog.
No one seems able to resist the lure of the fog with its apparent intention to do evil in the usually quiet environment of rural southern England.
Holman recovers from his insanity, apparently because he was only briefly exposed to the fog when he climbed back out of the abyss. He is also given a blood transfusion for his injuries, which scientists later think may also have helped him get well.
He’s the only person known to have recovered, and he becomes the focus of scientists’ hurried attempts to find a cure.
Meanwhile, chaos is spreading across southern England. In Bournemouth, the entire population of the city are lured into the sea to drown themselves.
Those prevented from reaching the water by the piles of dead on the beach simply find other ways to take their own lives.
The authorities are at their wits’ end about how to respond to this strange new enemy. It is intangible, apparently moves wherever it wishes almost regardless of weather conditions and can also disperse at will. It is now moving towards London.
I loved the way that the early James Herbert horror fiction lingers on the notion of mankind as our own worst enemies.
The Rats features killer rodents, spurred on by nuclear experiments to attack us. Our adversary in The Fog is far from a natural phenomenon, with fingers comprehensively pointed at government research facilities near the village.
There is so much room, both now and then, for us to take responsibility for our behaviour and its effect on the natural world. James Herbert was ahead of his time in that respect.
One of the joys of The Fog is its tight writing style and strong narrative drive. The story moved along nicely, with plenty of new characters throughout. Many are destined to die horrible, bloody deaths in a uniquely graphic manner.
You could say that is what James Herbert does best, and it is best displayed here in The Fog. Countless people are introduced with a vividness that belies his economy of words, only to be killed off almost immediately.
I loved the bloodthirsty nature of The Fog, but James Herbert always made the reader care about the person and understand their underlying grievances in life before they died and/or went on a killing spree.
The Fog had a strong plot, and it was very well structured. I enjoy re-reading it regularly, and the story never loses its interest for me even after all these years.
I hope you enjoyed my review of The Fog by James Herbert.
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