Fluke by James Herbert

Simply a well told, engaging and moving story. And not a horror book.
Fluke book cover

Recently I read The Last Dog on Earth, Adrian J. Walker’s excellent dystopian novel featuring dual narratives, that of Reg the human and - most memorably - that of Lineker the dog. I loved the book and enjoyed reading Lineker’s thoughts, and also found myself making a mental note, which was simply re-read James Herbert’s Fluke.

James Herbert died four years ago and for many of us who were teenagers or older in the 80s he was - alongside Stephen King - a must-read horror writer. The Rats trilogy, The Fog, The Magic Cottage - novels that have a special place in millions of readers’ lives. And then there is Fluke, and here’s the thing - it is not a horror book, it is a deceptively simple tale into which Herbert imbues pathos and humour and out of my fuzzy recollections of three decades ago two things remain clear: I was enthralled and I ultimately moved to tears.

The novel itself centres on Fluke, a mongrel who wanders the streets, driven by hunger and hunting a quarry he can not define. But he was once something more and in the depths of his consciousness there’s a memory clawing its way to the surface, tormenting him, refusing to let him rest. It is the memory of what he had once been. A man.

This is a novel that explores reincarnation and poses the question of what would it be like to have a human mind and recollections whilst existing in a canine body. Fluke is a charming lead, a mixture of human and canine thoughts, driven by the fear that soon his human thoughts will fade away to nothing. It’s about Fluke discovering other dogs who become friends, all the while seeing humans in a completely new perspective. But what drives the story is Fluke's finding his way home to his wife and daughter and uncovering what reason his life ended so suddenly.

This is simply a very well told story, accessible to all aged 12 and up. James Herbert expertly captures what a dog's life might be like through and you - as the reader - really find yourself at ground level, revelling in the extra sensory overload that Fluke feels.


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Fluke reader reviews

from England


There are certain books that must be read as a passage of time. I first read ‘Fluke’ when I was an 11 year old, it held me captive: the beauty, hilarity and the thoughts of a whole different world. I adored Fluke as the dog, human and book. It’s a mesmerising book - a truly wonderful read.

from UK


Loved this book the first time I read it in the 90’s and love it til this day !- awesome read and very thought provoking !!!

from UK


Read this book in the 80's loved it. Well written with a huge amount of humour. At times it was hard to put down but I had to eat an sleep you know. Read it many times. Made me laugh my socks off. Parts of the book makes you smile and parts want to make you double up with laughter. Loved it still got a copy of the book. Though not read it for a long time.

9.6/10 from 4 reviews

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