The Dark by James Herbert – An Audio Book Review

The Dark


Night falls. It came like a malignant shadow with seductive promises of power. And somewhere in the night…a small girl smiled as her mother burned…asylum inmates slaughtered their attendants…in slimy tunnels once-human creatures gathered. Madness raged as the lights began to fade and humanity was attacked by an ancient, unstoppable evil.


Author: James Herbert

Narrator: Sean Barrett

Publisher: Audible Studios

Run Time: 13 hrs 15 mins

Genre: Horror

My Rating of ‘The Dark’: 2 out of 5

Purchase: Audible UKAudible USAmazon UKAmazon US



I have a soft spot for horror and, when it comes to authors like Herbert or King, I’m more than happy to take a chance on most anything they write. This one being a daily deal for £1.99 on Audible made it a no brainer.

The idea of an evil epidemic type thing that comes every night and is as invisible a killer as any illness and more terrifying by far, struck me as a pretty interesting concept. I expected to love it and only ended up liking/tolerating it. Having finished the book, I just feel that the premise was always going to be far better than the execution.

I have two main problems with this book. The first being that whenever the Dark influences a person to acts of violent horror, we witness the act and we know (after the first couple) that they are isolated incidents and pretty much just feel like short stories or scenes stuck into one long narrative rather than any free-flowing narrative. It makes it feel jumbled to me. I think the problem with this, which leads directly onto my second point, is that we see it happen. We experience it.

That may sound odd, but there’s absolutely zero mystery to the whole thing. We see one person do unspeakable things to another and we are told precisely why they are doing it. As awful as the acts being perpetrated are, they aren’t in any way creepy in the way a horror story should be. They are shocking because of the act but not because of the ‘what could be going on here’ factor.

I like to not know what’s going on along with the main character. I don’t like having all the knowledge and watch as the main character blindly bumbles around trying to put the pieces together. It’s almost like being a teacher that can’t interact with their student. I have all the knowledge but I cannot in any way influence the person who doesn’t. For me, it just left a lot to be desired and made the novel feel like it was going along at a slow, tedious pace.

It had some good character work and I really enjoyed the parapsychology parts. That stuff always interested me and I just wished there was more of it.

For those who don’t mind being ‘in the know’ and just enjoy watching chaos unfold, this really will be the novel for you. It had some truly grotesque moments and some very vivid imagery that will delight those of darker reading tastes. It just doesn’t have that wow-factor to me due to the absolute lack of keeping me in the dark … pun partially intended.

The narration suited the style of novel and I’d happily listen to other darker works read by Sean Barrett.

5 thoughts on “The Dark by James Herbert – An Audio Book Review

  1. A great review! It’s an interesting premise and I have seen it work very well, but it does sounds is if there was almost no tension in this scenario – and that’s a shame, because there should have been…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with what you say about the lack of tension: horror narrative is fascinating because we have no knowledge of what’s going on, just as darkness scares us because we don’t know what it might hide, so that shedding too much light into that darkness seems truly counterintuitive…
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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