Author James Herbert’s first novel Rats (1974) put him on the fast track in early horror genre, a number one bestseller in Britain, but followed up his success with an interesting conceptual design with bizarre ideas, in his second novel entitled The Fog, published in 1975, but has zero connection to John Carpenter film of the same name. However, in Carpenter’s film the fog contains death and danger, as does Herbert’s fog, but note the era in which the book becomes available to the public, the female characters are considered weak, not from physical attributes rather the society outlook, this might dissuade some readers. In addition, one must note a few distributing sexual scenes do occur, but for good taste and to avoid spoilers won’t find themselves revealed in this review.
Basically the story starts with character John Holman, a worker for the government a position equal to the United States version of the EPA, investigating a small town (village), when suddenly an earthquake swallows his car. While John escapes with a few abnormalities, he’s accompanied by the fog, which lay trapped underground festering, now unleashed onto society. The fog becomes more self-aware, an entity of its own and travels onward turning everyone it touches into maniacs acting out sexual desires and crimes as well as suicidal or even homicidal thoughts and fantasies. No one appears safe from its influences, regardless of their station in life, priests, politicians, or teachers, each committing more bizarre crimes and actions all for the terrorizing of the reader and perhaps more fear the unknown, which exists in the microscopic and within our world.
For this reviewer the gross-out factors multiply wonderful leading to several creepy moments, especially when the fog begins rampant decent on various astute positions of authority. A backlash occurs to those of supposedly high moral standards and rule followers now thrashing about willy-nilly. Although, the novel does cause problems for the reader with regard to wobbly storytelling, a few dead-ends in the plot allows for meaningless characters scenarios to drag far too long, and instead maintaining focus Herbert meanders quite a bit. Nevertheless the story starts at a quickened pace and delivers the good when needed for the horror readers.
Therefore, the next time you see a fog, you might seek an alternative route, as for the novel a fine pleasure to read and starting with a thriller intention with a fair amount of horror sprinkled from midway portion to the end of the book. As for the serious collector of both horror novels and of this, novel approximately seven different book covers exist, with a French cover resembling the special edition of movie The Fog.
Rating: 3.5/5 – paper cuts