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The Ghosts of Sleath Paperback – 1995


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006475973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007796472
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Veteran horror writer James Herbert brings back the protagonist of Haunted to investigate psychic disturbances in a picturesque village in the Lake District of England. It's an interesting mishmash of a novel--not entirely successful, but enjoyable all the same. Herbert's penchant for gorgeously visceral carnage unfortunately clashes with his equally skilled ability to create a subtle mood of supernatural terror. And he throws way too many ingredients into the stew: family secrets, rape, infanticide, necrophilia, the "Black Arts," a moldering mansion, a sinister yellow fog, drowning children, poltergeist pranks, a haunted painting, a tormented vicar, a neglectful doctor, even an evil knight. Yet, as Necrofile: The Review of Horror Fiction reports, "None of these flaws are fatal. These days, making a classic ghost story work at all--let alone on the scale of The Ghosts of Sleath--requires a daunting level of craft, control, and consistency.... Many of the novel's supernatural elements ... evoke the requisite chills." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

David Ash, the skeptical investigator of supposed psychic phenomenon and the hero of Herbert's chilling ghost story Haunted (1988), returns to grapple with an entire village full of spooks in this disappointing sequel. The rural English town of Sleath seems an unremarkable hamlet, but Ash senses "an atmosphere that's conducive to evil" shortly after being summoned there by the Reverend George Lockwood. He discovers that many of the townsfolk are seeing specters of the recently departed. Herbert's usual skill at developing plot through the experiences of several characters fails him here, as it becomes evident that the residents of Sleath exist only to be terrorized by the increasingly malevolent ghosts. Ash proves little help in making sense of the hauntings, getting so sidetracked in his budding romance with Lockwood's daughter that Herbert has to introduce mysterious Seamus Phelan in the book's latter half to explain what is happening. But Phelan's appearance raises as many questions as it answers, including who he is, why he's so knowledgeable about Sleath's dark heritage and why the town's centuries-old legacy has chosen to manifest itself now. The book's abrupt, inconclusive ending leaves the door open for Ash to return; if he does, Herbert will have to spend part of the next novel tying up ends left loose here.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Typical Herbert at his best.
LOKdown
It felt like there was too much going on, and too many characters to keep track of(especially in the later chapters).
Brian J. Oneill
This book feels like something turned in to fulfill a contract.
Manders1@mindspring.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Steve-O on June 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
OK, most of the previous reviews here have been negative. Look folks, this ain't high literature. I believe some of the problem may lie in the expectation of this being a horror novel. It isn't. This is strictly a Alternate Reality/Science Fiction novel. So take it for what it is: light, escapist reading. This is the first (and so-far only) book by Mr. Herbert that I have read, and I found it to be lots of fun. It's the kind of summer beach read that is fun and doesn't require a great deal of grey matter exercising. Although only one other reviewer mentioned this, the only thing I may have against it, was also one of it's more attractive aspects: that of it's obvious similarities to Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. This is without a doubt one of my all time favorite Horror/Science Fiction novels, and reading '48 gave me the unique feeling of reading another take on the same story that you sometimes get in well-tracked genre pieces like this. In fact, I think the best way to review this book is to compare it to two of the film versions of Mr. Matheson's wonderful novel: First there is Charlton Heston's Omega Man released in '71. This was a fast-paced, action-packed Hollywood take on the novel. On the other hand, Vincent Price's The Last Man On Earth from '64 was a much better, darker and closer to the source example. Both are good in and of themselves, yet also different in their take on the story. That doesn't make either one bad, just different. When all is said and done, I must say that it is in fact a fun read, and perfect for summer reading. Pick it up and decide for yourself.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Craig Larson VINE VOICE on June 30, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
_'48_ is the sort of book James Herbet writes better than anyone. It's not a classic by any means, but this is a lean, mean novel, which reminded me again why I was attracted to Herbert's novels in the first place. More than half of the book consists of extended chase scenes, with economical descriptions and well-defined characters. Plenty of twists and turns in a plot reminiscent of the film _The Omega Man_ (adapted from Richard Matheson's _I Am Legend_). Definitely recommended for fans of James Herbert's earlier novels (like _The Rats_ and _The Fog_).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Vilbs on February 28, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This sci-fi/horror/thriller page turner from James Herbert takes place, obviously enough, in 1948, after the allies have lost the second world war in ravaged London. Due to one of Hitler's biological devices, the vast majority of the citizenry have been killed, while only those with the extremely rare AB- blood type have been spared, and a slightly larger minority have been condemned to a slow, lingering death.
The main character, Hoke, is one of the fortunate few that has been spared the disease, and he spends a good deal of his time fleeing those who are dying the slow death (they are attempting to capture him to steal his blood and in theory his immunity to the disease through a transfusion). Along the way he meets a few other survivors, and, of course, races towards a final showdown with his pursuers.
By no means a deep, meaningful, or socially conscious novel, '48 simply offers vivid scenery and top notch entertainment, and I was completely incapable of putting it down. (I stayed up till 4AM to finish it) It's non-stop action from cover to cover, and its the perfect answer for an otherwise quiet evening. Don't listen to all the negative reviews, because in terms of sheer entertainment value this book is quality. Enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By F. G. Hamer on July 30, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Imagine the scenario... End of WWII Herr Hitler realizes he's in for a pasting so calls in his final weapon of mass destruction - a killer virus, which he drops on London. Unfortunately the wind is in the wrong direction and he gets a load of it back in his face!! Fairly improbable, you may say, but then most horror stories are based on the improbable. It's the job of the writer to get the reader to suspend the usual parameters of disbelief for a while. And nobody does it better than James Herbert.
So what we're left with is a small group of people, some of whom are totally immune to the virus and some of whom are only partially immune. The bad guys (the partially immune) would dearly like to get their hands on Hoke, an American pilot who is totally immune thanks to his AB-neg blood, in the hope that they can exchange his blood for theirs. (A sort of primitive vampire-type bood transfusion?). Meantime, Hoke races about on his Matchless 350 motor bike (I used to have one of those!!) followed by his faithful hound.
As always, Herbert conjours up amazing descriptions - his haunting vision of a Ghost City with the hotels, subways and buses filled with the long-dead and dried-out. The plot hurtles forward on all cylinders, action scene upon action scene, until you feel ready to burst. And that's why I felt I could only give four stars. I needed a bit of a reprieve somewhere in the middle of the book - time to pause for breath if you like - but I never got it.
Harness yourself to your chair, Herbert has written another killer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Chris Ratcliff on July 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When '48 came out, James Herbert had been a published writer for over twenty years. Plenty of time for him to leave behind the shlock straight-for-the-jugular horror of his early novels, and prove himself to be the master of many genres. However, in this novel he returns to his old stamping grounds, and outdoes the pulp writers at their own game. '48 isn't horror, though, it's nothing less than a non-stop action thriller. The first third of the novel alone is one long intense action scene, by the end you're 120 pages in and have barely had time to breathe. And he keeps topping himself, with brilliant setpiece after brilliant setpiece. Reading this book is like watching a top action film.
There is subtlety, too. If this book was nothing but surfaces, it'd still be excellent, but Herbert has given his characters motivation and depth. Hoke, the first-person narrator, has an intense, pathological hatred of Germans, and the others have similar defining traits (I can't say much more, as that would give away a great deal of the plot). At the heart of the novel is a subplot about class conflict in Britain which rings true. But Herbert doesn't get too involved with these nuances, as they would just bog the plot down and kill the story. Better a 300-page page-turner than those depressingly numerous 700-page doorstopper horror novels.
I haven't said anything about the plot; you can read the reviews below for that. Suffice to say, this is excellent.
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