‘The Rats’ by James Herbert

The Rats

A race of unusually large black rats creep out from their lair looking for food. But when the creatures get a taste for human flesh, the corpses quickly pile up. Discovering the rats also carry a fatal virus, it becomes apparent to the authorities that a new and very dangerous challenge faces humanity. One of the first to witness the carnage, school-teacher Harris realises he knows more about them than anyone else and joins a team of specialists tasked with ridding London of the deadly vermin. But things don’t go to plan…

A few months back, I read a James Herbert novel I hadn’t come across before. ‘Creed’ reminded me that even though I’d read (and forgotten) lots of the author’s work as a teenager, there were also several of his twenty-three books I’d never got around to. I first read this one many years ago, along with similar titles (such as the wonderful ‘Horror Stories’ series published by Pan). And of course, I discovered Mr Herbert had plenty more to match ‘The Rats’, such as ‘The Dark’, ‘The Fog’ and the others in the Rats Trilogy, ‘Lair’ and ‘Domain’.

Back in 1974, it was James Herbert who resuscitated Britain’s place in the horror genre and led readers and fans to discover the likes of Stephen King, HP Lovecraft and Clive Barker. Though I don’t recall how it affected me at the time, I’m heartened to find ‘The Rats’ is still a pretty chilling read.

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