The Rats
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Rats (Rats #1)

3.84 of 5 stars 3.84  ·  rating details  ·  6,116 ratings  ·  259 reviews
It was only when the bones of the first devoured victims were discovered that the true nature and power of these swarming black creatures with their razor sharp teeth and the taste for human blood began to be realised by a panic-stricken city. For millions of years man and rats had been natural enemies. But now for the first time - suddenly, shockingly, horribly - the bala...more
ebook, 300 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Pan Publishing (first published 1974)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Rats, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Rats

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ceegee
First a bit of background to my penchant for Herbert’s novels… Back in the days of my youth, when I was about thirteen years old (circa 1984 or thereabouts!), I had to do a book review for my English class. A year or two previously I had found a copy of Herbert’s ‘The Jonah’ at a jumble sale, and attracted by its freaky cover, I bought it. It languished on a shelf for the next couple of years, until I decided it would make an excellent book to review. My English teacher took exception to this id...more
Michael
My rating is based upon the general effect this book had on me as a child (I shouldn't really have read it so young) and upon my subsequent reading habits, and not upon the book's literary merits, assuming it has any.

Summer, 1974 (possibly 1975): I went to the Botanic Gardens to see if any of my mates were there, and they weren't. So, I want to the café to get an ice cream, but being a 10-year old bookworm decided to look at the novels in the rotary racks they had just inside the door. I would h...more
Jakey Gee
Hey, this was just for fun and out of nostalgic curiosity (he lived in the village next to ours when I was a child). And I liked JH whenever I read him being interviewed.

Kiiiiiiind of interesting as a 1970s museum piece at a superficial level. Socially, it's a point in history where East London still spells WW2 bomb damage, Ronan Point high rises and docks. There's a level of opportunistic sleeze about the relationships that feels very Jimmy Savile-era. And a gay man gets a pretty progressive-f...more
Alan Toner
The Rats is, without doubt, the BEST horror novel I have ever read in my whole life. I first read this classic novel by James Herbert way back in 1975, and just could not put it down. I honestly cannot voice enough superlatives to describe this truly fantastic shocker of a book. It was just one big roller coaster ride of sheer, unbridled, entertaining horror, from start to finish. I enjoyed it that much that I actually finished it in one whole day!

The Rats is truly the horror novel template whic...more
Alexander Dan
Read this for Genre. Lacking in horror and excitement. Lackluster descriptions of the rats, to say the least. Harris, main protagonist, is dull and drawn into saving London for no valid reason it seems. The book is incredibly sexist. His girlfriend is nothing more than a cutout that the main character has sex with and cooks him meals. Twice on the book he commands her to make him a meal, rest of the time he just tells her about the amazing dangers he experienced fighting the rats.

Every other fe...more
Chris
James Herbert's debut horror novel about killer mutant rats terrorizing London may sound somewhat corny, but this slim novel shows an early work but one of the true masters of modern horror fiction. Haven't heard of him? Pity, because until untimely passing last year, Herbert was Britain's top chiller author (think UK's Stephen King) and one of the best ever, period.

The time is the mid 70's and a schoolteacher becomes embroiled in a desperate search by authorities to find and exterminate these l...more
Jack Ferreira
If this book had been written nowadays I'd have given it 1 star. But since this was written in the mid 70's I'll cut it some slack.

I have to say though, everything in it is pretty bad.

The characters were awful. He did something really annoying which was overdeveloping the minor characters (aka the characters that pop up randomly, have 6 or 7 pages of backstory and then die straight away) and underdeveloping the main characters. I literally know nothing of the main character except where he w...more
Gavin
The Rats, by James Herbert, was recommended to me by the internet ramblings of low-budget horror author Tim Curran. He has a blog of sorts where he rushes through the trash and detritus of old horror for our amusement and his infectious enthusiasm prompted me to plunge willingly into a schlocky horror-fest nearly 15 years older than I am.

Like a lot of older books, this feels more like a curio from a bygone age rather than something I'd willingly sit down and read on it's own merits. It's gleeful...more
Jamie
I was recently given a list of scary books, so far none on that list have done much more than annoy me with cliches, bad writing and worst of all, by there not a being anything remotely scary within them

As a result -I re-read this, because I found it unsettling when I read it at 13 and I wanted to see if it was me at that age or the book...It is a very short book, but obviously the themes and content are disturbing...Despite being first written in 1975, it does not seem very dated - apart from t...more
Mika Lietzén
The titular rodents attack in The Rats (1974), the first novel by British horror stalwart James Herbert. Both a classic of the genre and surprisingly modern for its time, The Rats rises above common B-movie trappings due to the quality of Herbert's writing. It's not Shakespeare, of course, but writing good pulp horror doesn't require a bard, it calls for a different sort of writer.

The tale is set in the familiar mold of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (1898); a singular event blooms into a soc...more
Dreadlocksmile
Here we have Herbert's first novel, The Rats, which became the founder of the splatter punk horror genre. Herbert introduced the world to extreme splatter gore and unashamed violence in a style that has produced so many followers. With this one novel alone he has created a whole new aspect to horror novels that will later be saturated by influenced up and coming authors such as Shaun Hutson. But Herbert is the true master of the splatter punk novels. And this novel set it all off!
The Rats brings...more
Đorđe Bajić
Strah od glodara, prevashodno pacova, jedan je od najrasprostranjenijih. Prljava i okretna stvorenja dugačkog repa i oštrih zuba su noćna mora mnogih i to su u svojim delima iskoristili pisci poput Lavkrafta i Kinga. Herbert podiže lestvicu užasa odlukom da svoje pacove učini većim, krvoločnijim i pametnijim od obične sabraće.

Herbert je već od svog prvenca postao perjanica palp-horora, podvrste koju je 30-iih godina proslavio Robert I. Hauard. On ne troši puno vremena na uvođenje u priču i razra...more
Jak
London is suddenly besieged by giant rats that start attacking and devouring humans! (it could happen folks…..). The book is really short (les than 200 pages) which is one of the things that I think makes it work. There is no attempt at high brow literature it is just a fast moving plot with gory high spots along the way. If you like horror books this kind of thing is for you.
Drake
The Rats (1974) was the amazing debut novel from author James Herbert. On the surface, the story is a simple “animal attack” novel, but Herbert offers up enough social commentary with realistic characters to keep things interesting. Unlike many of the preceding works in the horror genre, Herbert focused on real-life working class characters from the slums of East London. Likewise, themes of absent and cynical authority figures dominate the book and their apathy and underestimation of the threat...more
Lawrence Windrush


Against a backdrop of Seventies violence, terrorism, political unrest, rampart inflation and punk rock bursts this novel kicking and screaming. It's a rollercoaster orgy of sex and violence, intense vivid set pieces, it did for rats what Jaws did for sharks.
Always remember you are only ten feet away from a rat.
Miloš
Zapravo 3.5 stars.
Knjiga je zanimljiva i drži pažnju od početka.
Malo je grozomorna, tu pre svega mislim na opise napada pacova na ljude i slasne detalje koji proizilaze iz tih napada.
Tipična end of the world priča, koja - ipak na moje lično zadovoljstvo - ima još dva nastavka.
:-)
Richard
smutty seventies horror with not a lot to recommend about it
Ed
Interesting that this novel has generated both lovers and haters. I'm in neither camp to be honest, but thought I'd write up a few thoughts in brief.

It's a short story, only 200 or so pages in length, which feels adequate for the Herbert to reach the depths this novel probably aspired to. That is to say a depth that while not especially very deep or meaningful, is no less dark, dank and quite disgusting at times. It is also a depth ridden with a few pointy edges that you might find disagreeable...more
Pat Gerber-Relf
I read this book some time ago. I ordered the book in my local bookshop in Solothurn, Switzerland, and after a wait of two weeks it arrived, just 197 pages. I was surprised. James Herbert is a well known horror/ghost story writer and this was his first book and was a success. Why I chose this book?; a story in London from the area where I grew up, the East End of London. I would perhaps tell a little of the background as to why I chose this book. James Herbert did come from the same part of Lond...more
Nicole
A fun little horror read, only 197 pages a lot of these taken up by graphic descriptions of people being eaten alive by rats.
The human interactions are not greatly written, a lot of "he did this and then she did that" but lets face it, you don't read this sort of thing for the conversations people have.
I like how we are introduced to each of the people before they are attacked by the rats. Privy to a few short minutes of their lives and what they are thinking before the rats come. It does give...more
Owen Adams
"The Rats" brings back a lot of memories for me, which is odd, because I had never read it until recently. Still, everything about "The Rats" took me back to my childhood, family trips to the library and lurid, early 90s book covers. I was the youngest in a house with a lot of sisters, they consumed books like this and other treats such as Shaun Hutson's "Slugs" and a gory tome called "The Dogs" (the author of which escapes me, but the terrifying cover is seared into my brain. I remember encount...more
CasualDebris
(Really a 3.5; when will Goodreads switch to the ten-point rating system?)

For my in-depth review, please visit Casual Debris.

There is nothing intelligent about James Herbert's The Rats: the social commentary is incidental, the writing is plain, and while the structure is interesting it is far from ground-breaking. Yet the novel is highly entertaining. This is the result of the novel's structure; the short scenes, constantly changing locations, growing tensions and simple writing make for a quick...more
Franki
I first came across this book at my grandparents house when I was about 12 and it was quickly pulled away from me as I was told "wait until you're older!"... But I'd already gotten through the first two chapters and was dying to find out what happened next...
The book evaded me for a few more years until my Nannar's passing, after which her entire horror collection was mine for the taking- safe to say I went straight for this book and have reread it many times since.
The Rats is a horrifying depic...more
Veeral
One positive you can always get out of these kind of books is that they don't pretend to be the "literally" type and as a result they are a quick read. But one major drawback that books like these suffer is that they are racist, misogynous by nature and more often than not are filled with cardboard characters.

Ok, understood. All of the above follies could be blamed on the era in which "The Rats" was written. But one thing that I could not understand was that the protagonist (Harris) did not eve...more
Aric Cushing
Totally satisfying! Feels like an 80's B Movie with all the perks of pure action. A few great scenes include an attack on the underground (in England) tube, a school, and the eventual evacuation of London to kill the nasty beasties! If you like horror films from the 80's, this is a must read.
Chris Mawbey
It's nearly forty years since The Rats was first published and, though some of the descriptions of London are now dated, the story is as fresh and relevant as it was in the seventies. These days the story may well be considered as a novella. The fairly thinly drawn characters give the reader enough of the picture to allow them to fill in the gaps and not get in the way of the delivery of the story or slow the pace in any way. This was one of the first horror novels that I read as a teenager. I w...more
David Church
Somehow I have never read a James Herbert novel, I am not sure how…with his recent passing I felt compelled to read some of his works. So I felt the Rats would be a good starting point. Amazing read, this was a page turner for me. It was like an adventure/horror novel all rolled into one. Loved Mr. Herbert’s writing style, and the way he described the ferocity of the rodent attacks made me wince & pull my feet up off of the floor a few times. I will definitely be picking up some more of the...more
Jon
Gory, Macabre, Ruthless in their determination to attack and kill and I wouldn't like to meet one that size (ordinary size rats are bad enough). The giant black rats trawl the streets of East London looking for flesh (animal or human) to munch. This book is the first of 3 from James Herbert about rats roaming London. It's gruesome and gross but definitely not scary I loved it and can't wait to read the other two not to mention the other books he's written esp the David Ash series.
I liked it and...more
Gavin
I last read this book back when I was 16 or so. I recall thinking this book was brilliant and so I thought I would revisit this book as it had just been reissued for it's 40th anniversary.

I can see why my 16 year old self loved this book! It was gorey, had a fair amount of gratuitous sex and was a pretty easy read. As a 41 year old, I still enjoyed the story (enough that I have the sequels Lair and Domain next to read), but found it somewhat lightweight. There were plot points that annoyed me.
**...more
Frances
I'll start by saying that I was born in the late 80's and so have no nostalgic feelings for the 70's and read this book for the first time this year. I thought I was going to love it, I'd heard good things and the plot sounded like something I would enjoy. Unfortunately I really did not enjoy this book.

I'll start with the women of the book, every single one of them is drunk, mad, hysterical, dead or sleeping with the protagonist. Speaking of the protagonist (Harris, a school teacher who's the fi...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Contemporary Brit...: The Rats 2 14 Feb 24, 2013 01:09AM  
  • Slugs
  • The Beast House
  • Charnel House
  • Headhunter  (Special X, #1)
  • The Summoning
80984
James Herbert was Britain's number one bestselling writer (a position he held ever since publication of his first novel) and one of the world's top writers of thriller/horror fiction.

He was one of our greatest popular novelists, whose books are sold in thirty-three other languages, including Russian and Chinese. Widely imitated and hugely influential, his nineteen novels have sold more than forty...more
More about James Herbert...
The Fog The Dark The Secret Of Crickley Hall Haunted (David Ash, #1) Lair (Rats, #2)

Share This Book