The Rats - James Herbert 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 have been looking for some science-fiction, but what I found was The Rats!I'd never read a "proper" horror story before, so why I picked this, I'm not sure. Could I have seen either of the "rat-horror" films Willard or Ben by this time? I'm not sure they would have got to TV that quickly. Maybe I'd seen a review of one of them in a horror movie magazine (House of Hammer, maybe?) that one of my friends used to get from his older brother? Whatever the impetus, I bought Herbert's book.I knew that my dad wouldn't have allowed me to read a book of this type, so I resolved to read it all in one go before going home from the park. I found myself a secluded spot on the disused railway embankment just outside the park fence and settled down.I think I was fairly well enthralled by the horror elements of the story, but most vividly I remember being appalled by the gratuitous sexual content. Being a very naïve pre-teen I was rather shocked, but steadfastly read through to the end of the book. Well, clearly, my instinct not to take it home had been correct, and I definitely did not want to keep it so, for the first and last time, I threw away a book (I've given them away and sold them, but have never just thrown one away): responsibly, of course, using a litter bin. I was staunchly anti-littering thanks to the Keep Britain Tidy campaignAnd so this is why I've never read another "proper" horror book: No more Herbert; no Stephen King (actually, maybe one Richard Laymon, but I can't remember which, so it obviously didn't impress), etc. Since then, it's been Shelley, Stoker, Lovecraft, Hodgson and their ilk for me.The Rats was certainly a formative, if not to say transformative, book for me, but probably not in the way the author might have wished.