Once again I didn't have much time to read, but since I only had less than twenty pages to go tonight, I pushed through them. When I got home from college, I started going through books, and discovered something. I have more books by James Herbert than I remembered having. One such book, that I actually found on a different book shelf, was The Ghosts Of Sleath (published in 1994). Since Jay told me that David Ash was in this book, I made sure I set it out where I would see it. Since I was still reading Koko at the time, I wasn't ready for this book just yet. Unlike some people I know, I can only read one book at a time. I don't see how some people can read two or more books at once. It would confuse me too much.
The Ghosts Of Sleath picks up three years after the events in Haunted. We discover that David has had a nervous breakdown after the events at Edbrook. This is no real surprise to be honest. David has started to do investigations again, with Kate keeping a close eye on him. While she knows some of the things that happened to David at Edbrook, he has not told her everything. Kate asks David to go to a small town called Sleath, where the daughter of Reverend Lockwood has asked the Institute for help. The reverend is against this, but goes along with it reluctantly. Grace, the reverend's daughter, has returned to Sleath because of the passing of her mother, and the slow decline in her father's health. Grace is worried about a woman, Ellen Preddle, who is reporting seeing her dead son. If that wasn't odd enough, Ellen also claims that her son is being haunted by his abusive father, who is also dead. David senses something is wrong, just not in Ellen's home, but also in Sleath itself. He soon discovers that Grace and he share some sort of link, like they know each other somehow. David quickly realizes that it isn't just Ellen that is being haunted. Others are as well, but not everyone is talking about it. As things in Sleath slowly grow worse, secrets about Sleath, and the Lockwood family, are discovered.
As Jay pointed out in his comment about Haunted, you do need to read Haunted first before reading this book. I supposed you don't have to do that, but it will make some remarks made by different characters easier to understand. The two books aren't linked together, outside of David and Kate, but the characters do talk a little about the events in the other book. Jay said he felt he was missing something as he was reading this book, since he had not read Haunted yet, and I can understand how he would feel that way. The pacing of the two books is slightly different. The Ghosts Of Sleath feels more urgent as things go from bad to worse, as the story goes on. While this is great, as it made me not to want to put the book down, I was disappointed that David wasn't playing as big a role as he should have been. He is still the main character, but his involvement with Grace distracts from why he is really there. Herbert eventually brings in a new character, and it is this person that eventually discovers most of the secrets of this town. Herbert gives us an answer to what is going on, or he mostly does. But he never answers why is it happening now. Sleath seems to have a long history of bad things happening, so why are things starting to happen now?
Other reviews range from loving this story, to hating it. I was a little surprised by this, since Haunted got very few bad reviews. The Ghosts Of Sleath is in the same vein, but in a larger scope. Most of the complaints were about the several side stories that Herbert gives us. Herbert picks a few of the people in Sleath to give us side stories of. I hate to call them sub plots, since there is no real plot to them. Instead we are given stories about how each person is being haunted. There is a mother being haunted by son and husband, a girl being haunted by a man that once molested her, and so on. These stories rarely mix with the main plot of David and Grace. They are mostly used to make the main plot longer really. A major point is about to be dropped in the main plot, and Herbert will start telling one of the side stories again. This is done to add suspense in a way, but it did get very annoying at times. Grace holds a secret about herself, and just as it is about to be discovered, Herbert sends us into a long chapter updating each of the side stories. Even when he returns to Grace, he still drags out the secret. The secret itself didn't surprise me, as it is hinted at often. But I just wasn't sure of the exact details, which are never given.
Personally, I liked most of the side stories. I didn't care for some of them, but those I didn't like were shorter, so it worked out. I didn't actually notice this until it was pointed out in another review, Herbert does tend to linger on the details of a death a little too much at times. It didn't bother me while reading, but I do see that basic issue now. Maybe Herbert should have kept the details down a little more so it had more kick, so to speak. Even though I found more problems with this book, I still ended up really enjoying it. There were times I was wishing I didn't have to stop reading when I did. The story doesn't end on a happy note, but for once I find myself wishing it had. If you liked Haunted, I highly suggest giving The Ghosts Of Sleath a read as well. It was close for me, between the two books. But I think I ended up liking this one just slightly more.
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