‘Ash’ by James Herbert

My Review (4 stars out of 5)

(Audiobook)

Paranormal investigator David Ash is sent to the mysterious Comraich Castle to look into possible supernatural causes behind the bizarre death of one of the castle’s inhabitants. But Comraich is no ordinary fortress and Ash soon finds that the people who work there are part of a secret organisation with influences that reach into the very highest levels of British government. Armed with various psychical research devices and scientific instruments, Ash soon discovers a formidable and eerie presence in the castle, as well as a host of infamous individuals who, as far as the general public are concerned, should be dead and buried. But it’s the strange forces in the castle dungeons, and one of its tenants, that interest Ash and he is troubled to learn that his arrival appears to have sparked off a new spate of ethereal incidents.

‘Ash’ was Herbert’s final book and brings back one of the heroes from two previous novels (Haunted and The Ghosts of Sleath). Though I’ve always been a big fan of the man and his weird imaginings, this one seems to go off the rails a bit with its slightly unrealistic cast of real people (including the likes of Lord Lucan and Robert Maxwell). The writing, too, isn’t up to his usual standard and if I hadn’t listened to this as an audiobook, I might have given up before the end.

As I’m currently working my way through the author’s bibliography, I was always going to read it at some point but having now read (or re-read) ten of his novels, I yearn for his more down to earth stories such as The Dark and The Fog (which I’ve just ordered).

The audiobook is superbly read by Steven Pacey.

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