After the recent passing of two prominent figures in horror literature, I thought the best tribute I could make was to sit down and read some of their work. I have only read a couple of James Herbert’s novels in my lifetime, I am ashamed to admit – The Magic Cottage and The Rats – so I chose as my starting point the follow-up to the latter: Lair. After a slow but never dull opening, the action and horror is classic Herbert. Herbert wasn’t the best writer, but he was an expert in those scenes that matter, the scenes that punch and bite. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, his ‘Rats’ trilogy is as good a place as any to start.
Before Rick Hautala’s death, I was unfamiliar with his work (actually, I had read and enjoyed his story Goblin Boy in Cemetery Dance #64 but did not connect it to him until after his death). I took advantage of an offer to download (for free) his Best Of short-story collection, Glimpses. Although the first story did not connect with me at all, those proceeding it have shown me Rick was indeed a skilful and economic writer of dark and unusual prose. I haven’t finished reading the stories yet; I am dipping in and out, savouring each one. But I’m pretty sure this won’t be the end of my Hautala experience…
Unlike many of the tribute blog posts I have read, I cannot claim to have extensive knowledge of either man’s catalogue, but I believe it is never too late to start on a journey. After all, that’s what legacies are made of. And besides, what better tribute is there to men of words than to read the words they lived for?