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 balance of power had shifted . . .
I first read this book back when I first discovered horror and I enjoyed it but hadn't went back and read it since then. I decided on a horror month re-read so I could write a proper review of it.
Harris is a school teacher in a deprived part of London where he grew up and despite the challenges, he has a good connection to most of his students. When one of the more difficult boys come into school with a nasty rat bite, it is Harris that takes him to hospital. While he is there he witnesses other rat bite victims being brought in and the doctor says there has been a sudden increase in victims claiming to have been attacked by huge rats.
The government gathers their best expersts and head to the area looking for where the rats are hiding and talk to all those who have been in contact with the rats. Harris is horrified to realise that his student died overnight and that just one bite from these mutant rats is enough to kill the victim. Now the rats are starting to attack people and buildings in huge numbers and ordinary poisons seem to have no effect on them. Gas is effective but can also be harmful to humans and other animals and can only be deployed when rats gather in an isolated area. A plan is hatched to feed a new drug into the rats food supply which is supposed to kill them.
The rats, however are smarter than they are given credit for. They hide in their secret lairs then pour out in a huge group to hunt down humans wherever they are, targeting apartment blocks, cinemas, train stations, trains...and the school that Harris works in. When he looks out of the window and sees waves of rats coming their way, his only thought is that somehow they must defend the school and the children until help arrives...
I really loved this book when I first read it all those years ago but it is clear that my tastes have somewhat changed since that first reading. I still enjoyed the actual rat attacks which were exciting and tense to read, especially the attack on the school. I still found the story to be entertaining and the writing was solid. However I did find that there was too much emphasis on sex in the book-the sex life of our MC Harris as well as that of random people who become rat victims. I felt that this was not necessary for the plot and it became a distraction that I rolled my eyes at every time it appeared on the page.
Still a decent horror read but not as much to my tastes as it used to be.
Read October 2017.