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Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Fog by James Herbert

First up to avoid any confusion I need to point out that this has nothing to do with John Carpenter’s movie the Fog. This completely unrelated book has nothing to do with ghosts or leper colonies. Instead it falls solidly into the ecohorror subgenre that was popular in the seventies.  This is also the second book that I’ve read and reviewed for the website. I rather enjoyed that book, The Spear, and it made me seek out Herbert’s other work.

The book is set in England and follows John Holman, who works for the government investigating different environmental concerns and problems. This is sometimes done with other parts of the government, like the military, unaware of it. Returning from investigating a secretive military base Holman is caught in what appears to be a natural disaster as a huge crack opens up in the earth and basically swallows a small village with him along for the ride. He manages to escape but is exposed to a strange fog that drives him crazy. Literally he becomes a mental patient in minutes! He recovers, we later find out due to a blood transfusion because of other injuries and becomes immune to the effect of the fog. This is important since it is spreading across the countryside making people lose their minds in violent ways.

I could go on about the plot, but it isn’t necessary. The Fog is a solid bit of ecohorror that shows us again that the human race is sometimes too smart for his own good. The “monster” here is a manmade disease that lives in the fog and feeds on those that it infects. Basically, this thing is a cancer that destroys and consumes the brain, making the host progressively more insane and violent. This leads to all kinds of twisted stuff like mass suicides, murder, rape, and all sorts of other abhorrent behavior. All of which is luridly and effectively brought to the page by Herbert. I’m a huge fan of exploitation movies of the seventies and how sleazy they can get. The Fog has a similar vibe and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Some other things that I wanted to mention include the characters. Our main character of Holman is your typical protagonist in this sort of story. He is a crusader, here doing all he can to make sure that the environment is protected. Between this and protecting his lady we have all the motivation for his actions that we need. There aren’t really any antagonists, but we do get an interesting twist with a character that was hostile to Holman early on before they realized there was an issue with the fog. When they are exposed the irrational part of their brain causes them to go after him again. That was a fun twist and leads to a nifty showdown. To finally destroy the threat, they have to blow up a big chunk of London. See Herbert knows how to end a story like this!

As much as I enjoyed the Spear this book is even better. This was Herbert’s second novel after The Rats, which is supposed to be an even better bit of ecohorror. I will be tracking that book as well as his other works down and adding them to my collection. You can expect to see some of them reviewed here at the Horror Dude Blog in the future. And if it isn’t’ already obvious I’m recommending The Fog.

 

© Copyright 2021 John Shatzer

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