Hello and welcome to my second Blood-Tinted Glasses article!
In this horror retrospective, I’m looking back at books, movies, and television shows that scared me when I was younger, and see if those terrifying things still have the fear factor today.
Some of these may come from decades ago, some a few years back.
Last time, I talked about Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. This time, I’m going to talk about a horror legend.
I think I was about 15 when I started reading James Herbert. At the time, I was a huge fantasy nerd and a devoted Tolkien fan. I was devouring sword and sorcery tales and was always on the lookout for more. I was also a massive fan of 2000 A.D., and was particularly fond of the darker and more bizarre stuff they put out.
Although I’d watched a lot of horror movies at that point, I hadn’t read any horror novels. My good friend soon changed that when he loaned me his copy of The Rats.
James Herbert was the first horror writer I read, and he will always be one of my favourite authors. Without his books, I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today. His writing had a massive impact on me, and his work continues to inspire me to this day.
After reading The Rats, I was loaned Lair and Domain, the latter containing some of the most harrowing scenes I’ve ever read. Following that trilogy, my friend passed The Fog and The Dark my way. Both of these novels hit me hard, as they contain some truly horrific set-pieces. It’s safe to say that those two books made me a Herbert fan for life.
The first book I ever actually bought by James Herbert was Moon.
Sadly, my first edition paperback fell apart many moons ago, no pun intended. So, I had to repurchase a copy that had a slightly less impressive cover. But never mind, it’s what’s inside that counts.
Moon is a fantastic read. The gruesome and bizarre murders, and the reveal of the killers identity made this an all time classic, and my favourite of the Herbert catalogue. I’m definitely going to have to reread this in full. I only browsed the beginning and was totally hooked, just like I had been all those years ago.
One book I did have a reread of though was The Fog.
Now, while this tale has aged a tad, it still packs a mighty wallop. Some of the set pieces in The Fog are as powerful as the day they were first written, especially the seaside mass suicide.
Oh. And the bit in the gym. You know the one. It’s impossible to read that and not wince.
Another book I would like to return to is The Dark.
Now, while I still have fairly clear memories of a lot of his early horror novels, all I have of The Dark are vague snippets. I do recall two things clearly though.
The first being that The Dark scared me more than The Fog, and the second was that the ending really messed with my head!
Perhaps I’ll tackle that after Moon. I’ll let you know how I get on!
For me, it’s clear that James Herbert remains one of the all-time horror greats. He’s up there with Stephen King, for sure. His books are blood-soaked and utterly brilliant. He definitely passes the Blood-Tinted-Glasses test.
If you’re new to him, why not grab a copy of Moon and let me know what you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Next time, I’m going to put on my horror goggles and take a look at some television that scared six-year-old me silly.
See you soon!
Simon Paul Wilson
Simon Paul Wilson is a U.K. based writer of horror and science fiction.
He is currently writing a cyberpunk horror trilogy, the first of which is GhostCityGirl and was published by Not A Pipe publishing in 2020.
Click this link for more info: Ghost City Girl
There now follows a list of writers who have influenced his reading tastes and writing style:
James Herbert. Stephen King, Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, China Mieville, Haruki Murakami, Carlton Mellick III, Brian Keene, and Adam Nevill.
Simon lives somewhere in the middle of England with his wonderful family. He likes to listen to post-rock and progressive rock at loud volumes. He also plays a mean air bass.
Follow him on Twitter: @spwzen