“The bad news is that if we do in fact get off the earth we will contaminate the rest of the universe with our moral insufficiency.” ― E.L. Doctorow,

The whole world has gone insane.

The Fog ― James Herbert

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I have wanted to read this book for a such a long time, I love a good horror story, but I am not really one for buying a book brand new, there is something I enjoy about owning second hand books. This week, after several years of searching for a used copy and coming up empty handed, I finally succumbed and bought a shiny new copy from Waterstones.

After all my waiting, I wasn’t disappointed by the book, it’s quite good fun, and definitely kept me interested up until the end. The premise of the story, I think, is fantastic. However I always find modern horror stories, much the same as modern horror films, never quite live up to my expectations. The style of so much modern horror fiction such as this is leagues behind the classic horror of Edgar Allan Poe, and M. R. James, and so I always find myself feeling a little underwhelmed.

To return to my previous point, the idea behind the story, is fantastic. Human intervention in nature leading to what could very quickly escalate into the end of the world. Brilliant. The story is also similar in many ways, to the much loved idea of a zombie apocalypse, with the odd tweak here and there.

A sleepy British town falls victim to an enormous earthquake, which creates a cavernous split in the earth, dividing the town in two and engulfing many locals and buildings in the process. John Holman, an employee of the Department of the Environment has been investigating a Ministry of Defence base within the small town, finds himself in the midst of a real life horror story, when his car in swallowed up by the cavernous opening. Attempting to rescue both himself, and a small girl who has also become trapped, Holman witnesses the emergence of a thick, acrid smelling yellow fog, flowing up from the depths of the earth. By the time Holman and the girl have been extracted from the hole, Holman is insane.

The fog makes it’s way across the country spreading disaster in it’s wake, an elderly woman is eaten alive by her cats, a farmer trampled to death by a herd of cows, and the entire population of Bournemouth leaves their beds to head for the sea, in a devastating mass suicide.

When Holman regains his senses, it is up to him to convince the police that the fog is the cause of the sudden outbreak of insanity throughout the country. It is then a race against time to discover the origins of the mysterious fog, and work out a way of stopping it before it is too late.

I can’t go much further into the plot without completely ruining the story for anyone who may want to read it, and I do think it is worth a read. I love the idea, and I like the way the story pans out.

The only thing I found particularly irritating about the story was the relationship between Holman and his girlfriend Casey, for me, it seemed unnecessary. I think the book would have worked just as well in the absence of awkward sex scenes, and frankly disturbing descriptions of Holman’s arousal while trying to restrain his insane lover, and I extend this point to cover all sex scenes within the book, lesbian or otherwise.

So, if you can blank out the needless erotica Herbert seems so fond of, I do think this book is worth a read. While I was a little disappointed with the style, I find this slightly inevitable, and I am willing to forgive . Taken at face value, The Fog certainly makes for a good horror story. 

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