lördag 2 januari 2010

A Haunted House -- Couldn't it have stayed that way?

When I re-read James Herbert's Haunted (1988) I figured I would read a few more of his novels once again. At this time I'd forgotten why I suddenly stopped reading him, but I'm certain it was after reading The Fog (1975) a few years back. Inspired by the mention of his The Dark (1980) in the afterword of Campbell's masterly crafted The Hungry Moon I bought a reasonably good copy of this book and was thus positively certain I'd have a great read during the holidays.

It started out well: The protagonist is a well known and respected "ghost hunter" though he does his very best to debunk every possible fraudulent hauntings and hoax mediums. Trapped in his own interpretation of the sciences of the supernatural, he is a man that believes modern techniques and equipment can explain almost every strange or occult ocurrence anywhere. Yet there is a dark, secret sorrow in his life, and when he is hired to investigate an old house that's harboured macabre séances and rituals he unwittingly finds himself a pawn in a struggle for the dark powers of evil (as a physical entity) to wreak havoc on the world of both dead and living. Our hero is wittness to a horrible massacre that is the starting point to a wave of horrible acts of suicide and murder. But this is just the beginning; when, finally, the house is demolished, the evil and its dark shadow is set free to turn all people in its way into bloodthirsty, murdering zombies...

Yes, the beginning is quite promissing, indeed: The visions, possessions and the violent acts of murder are protrayed in a manner that combines gore and viscera with enough ghostly ambiance. In this way we have a young, aspiring writer that does not pull any punches, while still showing us his talents for creating the nightmarish atmosphere of our human minds... But... Then it starts going haywire (or is it just me losing all interest in the story?). Anyhow, I started to remember why I got fed up with reading The Fog and realised it was all the rampaging, mad zombie-like people that tried to outdo themself in nastiness -- I guess I just got bored... as with The Dark, I'm sad to say...

I know I've really liked James Herbert before, and I liked his writing recently in Haunted. I also remember enjoying The Rats, Shrine, The Magic Cottage and The Ghosts of Sleath, too. I guess I have to really figure out which ones of his works I would like to read throughout. The thing is perhaps to get a book that sticks to either the straight ghost stories or the blood and gut macabre activities of man or beast -- not any combination of both elements: "Go between, crush like a grape..."

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