Cover image for Others
Herbert, James, 1943-2013.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 1999.
Physical Description:
502 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Library
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Private eye Nicholas Dismas is hired to find a baby taken at birth. His investigation leads him to a home for the elderly. Here Dismas will discover the dark secret of the Others. In an astonishing and spectacular finale, he will resolve the enigma of his own existence.

Author Notes

Horror writer James Herbert was born in London, England on April 8, 1943. Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a singer and an art director for an advertising agency. His novels have sold more than forty-two million copies worldwide and have been translated into thirty-three languages, including Russian and Chinese. His stories are simple, yet compelling and usually have a young, jaded man as the hero. Besides writing his novels, he also designs the book covers and handles the publicity. He currently lives in London, England with his wife and children.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Herbert is at the top of his game with this genre-bending, cleverly conceived, and well-written saga of resurrection and redemption. His protagonist, a self-described one-eyed semi-crippled hunchback, is a private investigator named Nick Dismas. (Nick for the convent caretaker who found him, and Dismas for the thief crucified beside Christ who repented and was promised paradise.) The sleuth Dismas is hired to find a child his client says was taken from her at birth when she was just a poor unwed girl. Nick tracks down a dying midwife, finds a beautiful but misshapen soulmate named Constance, and uncovers the perverted Dr. Wisbeech's fiendish--and pornographic--activities involving a host of other malformed humans, including his client's lost but no longer wanted son. Supernatural meets hard-boiled as Nick discovers he's been haunted and redeemed after living in a body like that of the child his earlier self abandoned. A terrific mix of Andrew Vachss and Stephen King--the stuff of great nightmares. --Budd Arthur

Publisher's Weekly Review

Herbert's reputation as the king of British horror is founded on his early gore-oriented "nasties" (The Rats; The Fog; etc.). His newest novel (after '48) packs powerful shocks, but continues the recent trend in his writing toward narratives steered by the complex motivations of his characters. Narrator and private investigator Nicholas DismasÄ"Dis" to his friendsÄis a self-described "monster," afflicted with grotesque birth defects that give him uncommon insight into human behavior. But the search for a child declared dead at birth 18 years before triggers a befuddling cascade of events that defy even his understanding: birth-record traces lead to dead ends, knowledgeable authorities can't be located and Dis finds himself haunted by visions of malformed souls that periodically materialize in his mirror. Collaborating reluctantly with Louise Broomfield, his client's psychic adviser, Dis tracks a suspicious former midwife to the Perfect Rest nursing home. There, he encounters both the repellent Leonard Wisbeech, one of the most diabolically perverse doctors in all medical horror fiction, and secret experiments that shed light on the case and on Dis's own obscure origins. Readers who stick with this tale past its lethargic startÄin which Herbert labors to contrast Dis's normalcy and the "ugliness" of more physically appealing peopleÄwill find a payoff in the over-the-top climax, in which the freak show Wisbeech secretly presides over runs amok. Though punctuated with long expository passages that explain the novel's central mystery, the finale crackles, finding an admirable balance between terrors of the supernatural and the darkness of the human heart. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Nick "Dis" Dismas, a private investigator in London endowed with an unusual physique, is hired to find the son of a recent widow, missing for 18 years. It seems the child was spirited away immediately after birthÄthe mother was told that he had diedÄbut a recent visit to a psychic has prompted her to try to find him. Against his better judgment, Dis takes the case, and what he learns about the missing child and, ultimately, himself leads to the disturbing conclusion. A fictional homage to Tod Browning's movie Freaks, this work is intense but not necessarily frightening. As always, Herbert's (Portent) writing is compelling, and his characters are vivid and complex. The only weakness here is plot predictability. Recommended for all suspense/horror collections.ÄAlicia Graybill, Lincoln City Libs., NE (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1 My redemption began in Hell. It was a day like any other--except there are no days in that singular (in both senses of the words) place. No minutes, no hours, weeks, or years. No seconds either. There is no time in Hell, you see. There just is . That's the hell of it. There I ruminated under the faintest light from above, nameless, Godless, with no sense of humour at all--I existed as a wretched and self-sorry soul, all reflection and no projection--contemplating the base, wasted life I'd once lived. Regrets? Too many to mention, but occasion enough to remember them all. Credits? Not enough to dwell upon. No, the balance was tilted in the worst direction and at the most extreme angle. Legions in this (literally) God-forsaken place still couldn't figure out what they'd done wrong--or, more accurately, why it was deemed so damned offensive--while others understood only too well. The former would come to know eventually, but in the meantime, theirs was a different kind of torment. As I pondered my own iniquities, a light suddenly brightened a corner of my dark 'cell.' Two of them appeared, tall and seraphic, their radiance pushing back the shadows around me, guarding themselves against contamination from this murky realm I inhabited (interesting how the ancient artists intuitively had got it right when they depicted bright auras enveloping the holy spirits on their sojourns into the infectious world of mankind) and I was blinded until they wished their dimmers to a more comfortable level. Both wore annoyingly benevolent smiles. 'Good day to you,' one of them said as though time had relevance. I nodded back, wary and too surprised by their visit to appreciate the break in the routine. 'We hope we didn't disturb you,' greeted the other one, neither sarcasm nor irony in his manner. 'Glad of the company,' I returned, all nervous humility and dread. The first entity, essence-- angel if you like--sensed my fear. 'Don't be alarmed. We're here to comfort, not chastise.' Chastise? Nobody had chastised me since I'd arrived. The torment was too subtle and yes, too drastic , for that. 'Not more punishment, then?' I asked half-pleadingly. 'Oh, we wouldn't say that,' replied the second, and they both glanced at each other. 'Something punishing perhaps, but not really punishment,' said the first. I groaned. 'Something worse than this?' 'Not worse. I told you we're here to comfort you. No, this is something infinitely better.' He smiled down at me and I took in a countenance so serene, so pure, that tears blurred my vision. 'A chance,' he announced before straightening again. My thoughts, as well as my emotions, raced. A chance? A chance for what? To leave this place? To attain a new level? A chance to escape the perpetual misery of ah existence without hope? What did he-- it --mean? He knew my thoughts. 'All of those things,' he said, beckoning me to rise so that I wouldn't have to gaze up at him any more. 'But more importantly, an opportunity to make amends.' Instead of rising I knelt before them both. 'Anything,' I said. 'I'll do anything.' 'I wonder,' was his response. 'It would be a harsh test.' The second one gently loosened my grip on his robe. 'And it's more probable that you'll fail. If that is the outcome, then there really is no hope for you.' 'I don't understand.' I looked from one to the other. No 1 took me by the elbow and drew me up. 'We have a tradition on the, er, uppermost level.' 'The Good Place?' He gave a slight bow. 'Heaven?' His smile twitched. 'If you like.' 'Anything,' I pleaded. 'Just tell me what you want me to do.' I admit, I was weeping floods by now. You had to know what Hell is like. 'Calm yourself,' he soothed. 'Stay your tears and listen.' Angel 2 started to explain. 'Every half-millennium we are allowed to choose a few souls for...' 'We call it the Five Hundred Year Plenary Indulgence...' No 1 interrupted helpfully. '...whereby all grievous and venal sins of the chosen souls are forgiven, their spirits become untainted once more. As they were before Earthly birth. They are able..." ì...eventually..." ' enter the Kingdom and at last find their peace.' It was too much for me. I sank to my knees again, disturbing the vapours that swirled low to the floor of my cubette. 'You've chosen me...'I burbled as my hands again caught the hems of their gowns. I heard a throat clearing, a sound of disapproval, and immediately let go, afraid of irritating these wise and wonderful creatures. I remained doubled over though, my nose disappearing into the mists. 'You and one or two others,' Angel 2 corrected. 'Thank you, oh thank--' No 1 cut me short. 'In your lifetime you were thoroughly wicked and your punishment here is richly deserved.' 'I know, I kn--' It was my own sobs, like sharp hiccups, that interrupted the self-mortification. No 1 had paused. 'Yes, yes, it's never too late for tears, but please save them for after we've gone,' he admonished, a little impatiently I thought, given the stress I was under. Well, wailing, gnashing of teeth and the beating of breasts was the norm in this place, but I guess it could be upsetting--or just plain tedious--for visitors. I snuffled into my hand and choked back further lamentation. If they didn't want woe, then woe there wouldn't be. A few snivelling whimpers maybe, just to show I was truly contrite, but nothing distracting. Besides, I was desperate to hear what was on offer. 'You were blessed with so many gifts for your test-time on Earth, yet you squandered them all, used them for your own self-gratification.' 'Yes, I know, I know,' I agreed with a barely-repressed sniffle. 'You were guilty of hedonism...' 'Yes.' '...sensualism...' 'Yes.' '...eudaemonism...' 'Er...' '...and you used your charm, your wit and your exceptional presence to cheat and humble those around you. Duplicity and betrayal was your canon, to lie and abuse was your doctrine. You debased the worthy and downtrod the already downtrodden.' 'Well, I...' Angel 2 added his own condemnation. 'A libertine and a roué.' 'Both a philanderer and a gigolo.' 'Indeed, a rake of the lowest order.' No 2 didn't want to be outdone. 'You were a great star in a celluloid firmament. A moving star...' 'Uh, mov ie star, actually,' I corrected. ' the place they call Holy Wood.' I felt it unwise to correct him again; no point in ruffling his feathers (just an expression--they don't really have wings. They don't really have bodies or voices either, but let's not get pedantic). 'Women adored you, men admired you.' 'Until they got to know you,' No 2 added darkly. The people worshipped your debonair image; to them you were a devil-may-care sophisticate, whose bluff exterior secreted a caring and sensitive core. Or so they thought. The public only knew you for the black and white image you portrayed.' And they hadn't come to chastise me? 'But most wickedly of all, you caused premature death and suicide. You caused despair and yes, even insanity to the ones who loved you most and who forgave your amorality and hardness of heart.' I offered no excuses. I had once before, at my Judgement, and they'd got me nowhere. This time I kept my mouth shut. From their thunderous countenances I thought they'd changed their minds about giving me a second chance, but it was Angel 2 who threw some light into the shade: 'However, you did have some-- not many mind --redeeming qualities.' I kept my lips clamped tight, even though a small, tingling excitement was beginning to lift my spirit once more. 'And it was those few--very few--redeeming qualities,' he went on, 'that gave us cause to review your case. It seems you were not altogether a bad person, although there are those among us who disagree about that. In fact it was the Final Arbiter--you know Who I mean by that--who made the decision to allow you another chance. You might just save your own soul if...'and he made it sound like a big IF ' are willing to take up the challenge.' His raised hand halted further gibberings from me. 'True repentance is not so easy, you know. Hell isn't necessarily just here, it can be found in other places, and if you go back...' 'Go back?' My body snapped up so suddenly that you might have heard my spine crack-- if I'd had a spine and if I'd had a body. 'You mean...' They nodded as one and there was an odd sadness to their demeanour. 'It's a most serious thing,' No 1 said mournfully and No 2 repeated just as mournfully, 'A most serious thing.' 'For if you fail, you will be lost to us forever, you will never be allowed another opportunity to save your soul. Your damnation will truly be eternal...' 'And even worse than this,' his partner added. I gulped. 'Worse?' 'Oh, much worse. Infinitely worse. Perdurably worse.' Angel 2 was shaking his head in pity. 'So think carefully before you agree to a new life and the harsh reveille it will bring.' 'I...I won't go back as myself?' 'There has only been one Resurrection--two if you count Lazarus, and eventually he had to give up his body again. Besides, you left your Earthly vessel almost fifty--in humankind terms--years ago. You'd create quite a stir if you turned up in it once more.' Fifty years? It could have been fifty thousand for all I knew. 'You'll find that your old world has changed considerably since you left it, and part of your atonement will be the loss of the privileges and gifts you once had, so we urge you again to think carefully before you decide.' It took me all of two timeless seconds to make up my mind. But I chose my words with more care than I'd made the decision. 'Let me make amends,' I begged. 'Please give me the chance of a new Judgement.' The Angels continued to regard me pityingly. 'There will be conditions,' No 1 said. 'Just tell me what I have to do.' 'One of those conditions is that you won't know.' 'But how can I--' 'You will choose what is right. Or perhaps you will choose what is wrong. It will be entirely up to you.' And so saying they left me. Just wafted away so that I stared into darkness and shadows once more. Then I lowered my head and wailed. * * * All this, of course, metaphorically speaking. Copyright (c) 1999 by James Herbert Excerpted from Others by James Herbert All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.