Saturday, April 11, 2009

Something Borrowed - Paul Magrs

One of my favourite books as a youth was The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis and indeed the rest of the Whitby series; it was always The Whitby Witches that I returned to again and again however. It was a book that I could get totally lost in, a book set in the here and now (well back then the early nineties) that just happened to be full of magic and mysteries all before the Harry Potter phenomenon. Now about fifteen years later in my adult hood I have found a series that as an adult makes me want to turn off the rest of the world and revel in the magic and mysteries of Whitby alongside some wonderful ‘investigative’ old ladies.

Something Borrowed is Paul Magrs second foray into the world of Brenda and Effie who are two of the most delightful characters to go on a journey of almost 400 pages with. Brenda, not quite considered an outsider by the town but by no means a local yet, runs a B&B in Whitby next door to Effie and her Antique’s Shop. These two unlikely friends like nothing more than morning tea’s, gossiping and investigating all the mysteries of Whitby and its locals; also known as sticking their noses into other peoples business. It’s ironic in some ways that both of them love to find out all the secret going on in everyone else’s lives when they go to great lengths to hide their less than normal and mysterious pasts.

We follow the duo not long after all the going on in their debut outing ‘Never The Bride’ the following spring. It appears that all the mysterious and magical things in Whitby have gone to rest until someone starts sending people poison pen letters, and this person seems to know everything about the villagers with the most secrets to hide including Brenda. There is also the matter of Jessie who, until she became the living dead, was one of Effie’s very few friends and now seems to be intent on striking terror into those in Whitby she doesn’t try and eat. Plus there is a blast from Brenda’s past as Henry a professor of Icelandic history turns up to add more mayhem to the mixture.

I do have two teeny tiny niggles with this book and they would be that the chapters are very long, each on in a way is like a short story that all comes together near the end which is wonderful I am just a short chapter person. I still raced through this though you simply cannot help yourself it’s just so readable and so well paced. The other thing would be that while I absolutely loved reading more of Brenda’s back story there was less of Robert and his high drama and also less of Effie and her slightly prickly awkwardness that I had come to love so much in the previous book. These are two very, very minor niggles though and only come because I love Magrs’ characters so much. Mind you there is a third instalment ‘Conjugal Rites’ already out with the fourth following in the autumn so I cant complain as I will be getting my fix of these wonderful characters and all the delightful and dark goings on in Whitby twice more this year.

As you can probably tell I absolutely loved this and in a world where books such as Twilight (which after reading the first is a series I am avoiding like the plague) doing so well, I think people should be reading wonderful supernatural mystery romps like this instead. Books that are both plot and character led and that make you laugh along the way whilst being taken into the macabre. I do need to add that two separate scenes in this book actually properly scared me as I was reading in bed of a night, seriously. Now if any f you are sat there thinking 'I don't like sci-fi, supernatural or fantasy' neither do I normally, well bar the supernatural stuff as a complete Most Haunted addict, but this book is also comical and looks at villagers and their secrets with a splash of the bizarre and I promise thats a concoction that can't go wrong! If you haven’t started this series of wonderful books then I advise you to do so pronto.

5 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

I have to agree with you on Twilight...the first one was an indulgent walk through pubescence for me, but after that I got pretty tired of it pretty quick. I can't say that supernatural is my number one genre, but I have thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter, anything Stephen King and Anne Rice. I will keep this one on my radar!

farmlanebooks said...

I'm not a fan of science fiction, but some fantasy books are great - I do live a bit of magic!

This book sounds like great escapism - another one to add to the list!!

I haven't read Twilight yet, although I do have a copy here, so I can find out what it is all about. I don't think it will be great though.

Kim said...

Hi Simon, we haven't been in touch before but I have been following your blog (and DGR's too) for some time and really enjoy hearing what you have to say about the books you read - so much so that I have set up my own blog! Perhaps I am the last person to do so, but I have just read Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black which is not really a book I would normally pick up but it appealed somehow. It was scary and thoroughly compelling at the same time and now after this review I have to add two more (and possibly four it appears) books to my tbr list! Thanks Simon ;-) And seriously, thanks for taking the time to write up your reviews, your comments have opened up all sorts of new reading interests for me.

Amy said...

What a fantastic review, makes me really want to check it out! And yeah, I didn't get past Twilight in that series, either. :)

Savidge Reads said...

Sandy - totally agree with the whole Harry Potter love I thought that was a wonderful I think Twilight is... well lets say I wasnt a fan. Paul's books are really really entertaining.

Jackie - Escapism is the perfect word... though I would say escapism with great characters and good plotting whihc can someties be lacking in escapist stuff.

Kim - welcometo the blogging world and thanks for following this blog!

Amy - thanks for your comments and hello! Why is it if so many of us dont like the Twilight series its doing so well? It puzzles and vexes me!

Happy Easter All!