This book surprised me. I was expecting some schlock. Some B-movie pulp horror. A first attempt at fiction by an author who would become one of England’s best selling horror novelists. But actually, it was brilliant.

It has a few intentional false starts so you’re not sure for a while if the person you’re following on that page is going to die in the next. Or if he, or she, will go on to be the main protagonist of the story. At first the book is a series of vignettes of rat killings. But you don’t just get a violent attack. You really get to know every character before they are ripped to shreds.

It starts with a story involving a gay salesman struggling with his love for another man. You think he’s going to be the main character and then he wakes up to find he’s being eaten alive by a swarm of rats the size of a small dogs.

The depth James Herbert gets from his characters is impressive for such a small book. He wants you to feel something for them before their eyes are graphically chewed out.

There are lots of things about this book I want to spoil for you, but I won’t. The ending was absurd and brilliant. I absolutely recommend it.

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