‘Do spiders give you the horrors? Fine. […] What about rats? In James Herbert’s novel of the same name, you can feel them crawl over you… and eat you alive’.
(Stephen King, Dance Macabre, p. 18)
The Rats is the first horror novel by the British writer James Herbert, about a horde of mutated rats which swarm and take over London, hunting for the taste of human flesh.
I thought The Rats would be a good book to read, after reading books such as:
- Jaws by Peter Benchley, about a shark that attacks a seaside town
- Cujo by Stephen King, about a rabid dog that attacks an entire suburb
- The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone, about a worldwide spider apocalypse
I find these sorts of books can often be scarier than paranormal fiction because they are based on aspects of real life, such as real animal attacks and real epidemic health problems.
This is the observation of Stephen King, who says:
Horror ‘has often been able to find national phobic pressure points’ and is most successful when it focuses on ‘fears which exist across a wide spectrum of people’.
(Stephen King, Dance Macabre, p. 19)
I really enjoyed reading The Rats, although it was quite scary.
There were quite a few graphic scenes of violent mutilation and death; at some points, I had to flick past a few pages because some of the blood and guts and gore was quite intense.
Overall I thought The Rats was a well-written and very enjoyable book – I’d definitely recommend. Also, if you’re interested in a horror writer’s perspective on the horror genre, I’d recommend Danse Macabre too!