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By James Whittington, Tuesday 9th April 2013
ISBN - 100230706967
RRP - £7.99
Any release from James Herbert was worth taking notice of and Ash, which was released a few days before his untimely death, is one of his finest titles. It contains all of the skilful plotting and crowd pleasing chills that he was rightly renowned for, but it also dips its toe very much into the happenings in the world today.
David Ash - detective of the paranormal - is sent to the mysterious Comraich Castle, secluded deep in the Scottish countryside, to investigate a strange, high-profile case: a man has been found crucified in a room that was locked. The reports suggest that the cliff-top castle is being haunted. Who or what is the reclusive hooded figure that Ash has seen from the window walking across the courtyard in the dead of night? What are the strange, animal-like sounds that come from the surrounding woods? And why are the castle's inhabitants so reluctant to talk about what they have seen? What Ash eventually discovers is truly shocking.
Dark and challenging, this is classic James Herbert with a neat twist. Herbert brings in real people and events to progress the narrative mainly to pin down that this story is set very much in the here and now and some may find these inclusions controversial but Herbert doesn’t just include these persons for sensationalism and each connection makes the story ever more powerful. The book, in part, can be viewed as a satirical swipe at some of the more infamous people who have been the subject of headlines over the last few decades.
Herbert uses a delicious amount of description in this novel; I swear you can almost taste and smell some moments and even though there is the odd bit of serendipitous luck in the book ,it’s a chilling experience.
David Ash (who we first met in the books The Ghosts of Sleath and Haunted) is an endearing creation and carries the book well. The horror here is very real, mostly culled from the evil that surrounds the people involved and their actions. There are copious amount of plot strands that all connect to the mysterious Comraich Castle so be prepared to take notice of every clue. Conspiracy theorists will enjoy the entangled web that unfolds, whilst lovers of his earlier work will enjoy the juicy, bloody set-pieces that’s interwoven into the paranormal plot.
Ash is James Herbert at his best, containing a good amount of chills proving that for almost four decades he had lost none of his power to shock, stun and entertain.
This review is respectively dedicated to his memory.
To try and win a library of James Herbert books click here.
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