Goodreads ratings
3.52 / 5

"Ash" Summary

By James Herbert

horror | 264 pages | Published in 2009

Cinderella retold In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A man's childhood nightmares become a horrifying reality when he returns to the village where he grew up.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction


"Ash" is a gripping horror novel written by James Herbert, the master of the macabre. This bone-chilling tale delves into the realm of the supernatural, weaving a haunting narrative that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. Set in the picturesque English countryside, "Ash" takes readers on a journey through fear and terror as the protagonist grapples with an ancient evil that threatens to consume everything in its path.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story unfolds in the serene village of Sleath, nestled in the heart of the English countryside. The tranquility of this idyllic setting is shattered when an otherworldly force, known as the Ash, begins to exert its malevolent influence, plunging the village into a maelstrom of horror and despair.

Main Characters

David AshA paranormal investigator with a troubled past.
Sally FreethA young woman tormented by the Ash's sinister grip.
Harry PriceAn enigmatic figure with knowledge of the supernatural.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5

The novel opens with David Ash, a seasoned paranormal investigator, arriving in the village of Sleath to look into reports of supernatural occurrences. He meets Sally Freeth, a troubled young woman who appears to be at the center of the strange events. As Ash delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding Sally and the village, he encounters inexplicable phenomena that defy rational explanation.

Chapter 6-10

As Ash delves further into his investigation, he uncovers a dark and malevolent force that seems to be linked to the village's history. The Ash exerts its influence, tormenting the villagers and driving them to the brink of madness. Sally, in particular, becomes a focal point of the Ash's sinister machinations, and Ash is determined to unravel the truth behind the entity's hold on her.

Chapter 11-15

As Ash delves deeper into the village's past, he unearths a horrifying secret that has been buried for centuries. The Ash's origins are tied to a tragic event that took place long ago, and its grip on Sleath grows stronger with each passing day. Ash races against time to confront the malevolent entity before it consumes the entire village in its shadowy embrace.

Chapter 16-20

The Ash's influence reaches a fever pitch as the village descends into chaos and terror. Ash, Sally, and a few brave souls find themselves pitted against an ancient evil that threatens to engulf them all. As the boundaries between the living and the dead blur, Ash must confront the Ash in a final, harrowing showdown that will test his resolve and courage to the limit.

Main Events

  1. David Ash arrives in Sleath to investigate paranormal phenomena.
  2. Ash encounters Sally Freeth, a young woman plagued by the Ash's influence.
  3. The malevolent force of the Ash intensifies, tormenting the villagers.
  4. Ash uncovers the dark history of the Ash and its connection to the village.
  5. The Ash's grip on Sleath reaches a terrifying crescendo, plunging the village into chaos.
  6. Ash confronts the Ash in a harrowing showdown to vanquish the ancient evil.

Themes and Insights


  1. Supernatural Malevolence: The novel delves into the theme of malevolent supernatural forces that defy rational explanation, instilling fear and despair in the characters.
  2. The Power of History: The story explores the idea that the past holds dark secrets and how they can resurface to wreak havoc on the present.
  3. Isolation and Vulnerability: The village's remote setting amplifies the characters' vulnerability in the face of the Ash's relentless onslaught, highlighting the theme of isolation and vulnerability in the face of evil.


"Ash" offers a gripping exploration of the human psyche when confronted with the inexplicable and the unknown. It delves into the depths of fear and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of overwhelming terror.

Reader's Takeaway

Readers will find themselves immersed in a chilling tale that blends supernatural horror with psychological suspense. "Ash" offers an unrelenting journey into the heart of fear, delivering a haunting narrative that will linger in the reader's mind long after the final page.


In "Ash," James Herbert delivers a spine-tingling masterpiece that will captivate fans of the horror genre. With its evocative setting, compelling characters, and unyielding sense of dread, "Ash" stands as a testament to Herbert's unparalleled skill in crafting tales that delve into the darkest recesses of the human experience. This novel is a must-read for those who relish being gripped by the icy fingers of terror and suspense.


  1. What is the genre of the book 'Ash'?

    The book 'Ash' by James Herbert falls into the horror fiction genre.

  2. What is the plot of 'Ash' about?

    The plot of 'Ash' revolves around a powerful ancient evil that is unleashed in modern-day London, causing chaos and terror.

  3. Is 'Ash' suitable for young readers?

    No, 'Ash' is not suitable for young readers due to its graphic and intense horror themes.

  4. Who is the main character in 'Ash'?

    The main character in 'Ash' is David Ash, a paranormal investigator who is called to London to confront the supernatural forces at play.

  5. What are some common themes in 'Ash'?

    Common themes in 'Ash' include the battle between good and evil, the supernatural, and the power of ancient forces.