Book Review || The Dark by James Herbert

I haven't read a proper horror novel in ages. The last thing I read even remotely resembling such was a compilation of horror stories which was actually quite disappointing - practically none of the stories gave me chills in any way. And before that... who knows. Perhaps it was this disappointment that made me set aside horrors for a while.

So when I happened upon a copy of James Herbert's The Dark at a second-hand store, with him being one of my favourite authors in the past, I was sparked into wanting to read them again, and then it was the first novel I picked up to read after at least three years of study texts.

I really enjoyed reading a horror story again. The catchphrase at the bottom is 'From the blackest pits of hell...' and the back cover testimonial claims, 'devil of a chiller'. I remembered why I became sick with Herbert though - becoming acquainted with characters that are inevitably killed off becomes a little old eventually. But as usual his knowledge of the paranormal and his theories regarding the subject are intriguing and thought-inspiring.

For example, [spoiler] the darkness that progressively spreads and inspires aggressive madness in people is created by the state of mind of the person at the time of his passing. The idea is that one should be aware of your mind, your intentions, your beliefs when you die, and this allows you to create a force of good or evil. To have the presence of mind to be calm and have a clear intention upon your death is the challenge.

Another thought popped up while I was reading this novel. I don't remember noticing it before, but my readings lately have helped me spot such things: whenever a woman of a larger size is mentioned, she is referred to in very derisive tones. Words such as 'gross', 'rump' when referring to their behinds, 'great mounds' resting 'sullenly', 'gross shadow', 'grotesque', 'great flabby shape', 'oozing flesh', and 'big body'.

It occurred to me that, as a frequent reader of horror books, it may be possible that my own body insecurity was subconsciously planted by reading such phrases. Clearly larger women are viewed negatively, thus reinforcing the impression that being overweight is unattractive. Of course, insecurities are an amalgamation of all kinds of influences, but I wonder what the subconscious effect of such descriptions are on people, considering that we know subliminal messages in advertising work.

I don't think this was the best horror I've ever read, and I enjoyed it so much because it was a long time since I'd read one, but it was definitely intriguing and interesting,


Popular Posts