Archive for December 2012

Ash by James Herbert

When asked what, throughout my 35 odd years of avid book reading, is my favourite book, my answer is always ‘the book I am currently reading’. Ash by James Herbert is my latest read and I enjoyed every page! If you want action served with your chills, this is the book to get!

The ‘Ash’ of the title is a complex absinthe drinking parapsychologist occult investigator called David Ash who for an occupation involves himself in the paranormal. A character in the book states “ghosts, they can’t harm you” – but how far from the truth this turns out to be.

If you are a James Herbert fan you may be familiar with the character of David Ash who has turned up in earlier titles such as “The Ghosts of Sleath”.

In Ash, following an inexplicable death the parapsychologist is commissioned to attend Comraich, a haunted Scottish castle with a secret agenda. He has to determine the degree of the problem and to attempt to eradicate or at the very least provide solutions as to the exorcizing of the paranormal activity that seems to exist.

Comraich Castle is a secret hiding place for people generally in the public profile who the rest of the world believes are dead but who live in secret here, for a big fee. These people live in palatial surroundings whilst below ground, within the dungeons exist those poor souls defined as criminally insane. Why are they here?

Ash by James HerbertThere is a bold array of characters in the book such as the bald assassin Cedric Twigg, the demure psychologist who Ash falls in love with, the guilt ridden ex priest now security guard at Comraich, the incestuous twins Petra and Peter, the demon love child of Hitler, the mutant “Boy”, former presidents and military genocide dictators and so on.

Ash realises before long that everyone is in danger and that an evil demon has been awakened in the Castle that in fact the castle itself and the grounds surrounding it, are in fact deadly. The first manifestation was the death of one of the guests. His body was arranged in the style of a crucifix and seemingly and impossibly stuck to a wall. The second manifestation of evil at the castle was the flies at dinner time and the third was in the form of the hunting pack of Scottish wildcats. Whatever is likely to happen next? You will be on the edge of your seat, flicking those pages ten to the dozen!

Ash by James Herbert is an exceptional read! Treat yourself!

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Make way for one of the greatest stories of all time, the epic tale of David Copperfield. This is a novel of massive proportions that I love to dig out every year (just about Christmas time) and a novel with a massive unofficial title – “The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery”.

What is so great about this book are the characters, like Macawber, Uriah Heap, Peggotty and Steerforth and, oh, there are so many more, and the ups and downs of life. Charles Dickens has you laughing one minute and crying the next! If David Copperfield were a game of Snakes and Ladders, you would need a few extra ladders!

David Copperfield by Charles DickensThe story begins in a Norfolk farmhouse with the birth of David six months after his father’s death. Several years later his mother remarries a firm disciplinarian type of character who following a skirmish with David sends him away to a boarding school, Salem House. Here David meets Steerforth, a future friend and the cruel, insidious headmaster, Mr Creakle.

This is not a happy tale so far for the young lad and things get worse before they get better. It’s not all fun and games at the boarding school but nothing prepares him for the event of his mother’s and her newborn baby’s death. He returns home for the funeral and is immediately and heartlessly sent off to slave away in a workhouse owned by David’s miserable stepfather.

Whilst at the workhouse David becomes acquainted with the brilliant legendary Dickens character of delightful Macawber who becomes his landlord. Being the kind and giving person that he is, he becomes a guardian to David and takes him under his wing… until fate has other ideas in mind for the orphan when Macawber is imprisoned for debt. David has enough at this point and left to fend for himself, decides to run away to Dover to live with his mad Aunt Betsey Trotwood. And so the fantastic story unfolds as David matures into a gentleman and looks for love and a happy ending.

Some say the story of David Copperfield is autobiographical as we learn more and more of the book’s creator. But one thing we can say is that along with Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol, our christmasses would never have been the same without those memorable characters of Ebeneezer Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Fagin and of course David Copperfield. I’m sure the nineteenth century author would have been chuffed to pieces had he known how his books and the colourful characters within them continue to delight and entertain us way into the 21st century! My advice to anyone and everyone is, read them all!