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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent fairytale with that added extra for adults
I have never been a great fan of James Herbert, only liking a few of his books, but this is a great read. It offers that quaint English charm that often appears in JH's books making you wish you could visit these places of which he writes and also helps you to relive the stories of your childhood. It is not as scary as I would have liked it to be, but I am glad I read...
Published on 6 Nov 2001

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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars very disappointing, Herbert running out of original ideas...
I have been a die hard fan of James herbert since I was 11 years old, The first book I read was "The Fog", since then every book he has written has been bought, borrowed and even stolen! His whole collection of thrilling horror adorn my bookcase,all in original condition,lovingly taken care of,re-read at least half and dozen times each. In short, I think he is...
Published on 22 Nov 2001 by Elizadoolittle


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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent fairytale with that added extra for adults, 6 Nov 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Once (Hardcover)
I have never been a great fan of James Herbert, only liking a few of his books, but this is a great read. It offers that quaint English charm that often appears in JH's books making you wish you could visit these places of which he writes and also helps you to relive the stories of your childhood. It is not as scary as I would have liked it to be, but I am glad I read it as it has reminded me what a joy it is for a child to believe in these things and I will make sure that my son gets his fair share of fairy stories when he is old enough to understand. I also thought that it was a nice surprise to see pictures in the book, which are greatly drawn. The immagination can only go so far and sometimes needs a push in the right direction! All in all, I would reccomend this book to anyone, be they a horror fan or otherwise. It is scary enough for all the non-horror fan's but with just enough for the horror reader.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Haunted Fairy Tale, 19 Sep 2008
By 
Martin Belcher (Hampshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Once (Paperback)
This James Herbert novel is very different to many of his others and introduces us to Thom Kindred who after a serious accident returns to his childhood home of Little Bracken set deep in the mysterious forest surrounding the stately home of Castle Bracken.

The narrative sets up quite a spooky feeling about the setting and also the both houses. The Characters of Hugo Bleeth and Nell Quick are not who they seem and then we find out that the forest is populated by a whole host of incredible mythical animals and elves and wicked evil creatures from our nightmares and fairy tales that interact with Thom.

The story is very original and sometimes erotic, sometimes menacing; I wouldn't exactly call it Horror, more a good old fashioned haunted love story. Very good none the less.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars very disappointing, Herbert running out of original ideas..., 22 Nov 2001
This review is from: Once (Hardcover)
I have been a die hard fan of James herbert since I was 11 years old, The first book I read was "The Fog", since then every book he has written has been bought, borrowed and even stolen! His whole collection of thrilling horror adorn my bookcase,all in original condition,lovingly taken care of,re-read at least half and dozen times each. In short, I think he is the greatest horror writer ever and I respect him enormously for keeping me awake and on the brink of nightmares after reading his books.
So imagine my excitement when ONCE came out, immediantly I seized it, (paid for this time!- a present) in Hardback, not wasting time, I read the whole thing in an afternoon.
I was very disappointed. What can I say...it had a familiar ring to it, Herbert wrote, the fantastic "The Magic Cottage", ONCE was a watered down version.
Both have a Magical Cottage with strange things happening, while the occupier tried to figure out what was going on and what was going "bump in the night", both showed the "good" and the "bad" slowly emerging out of the woodwork. Both have a Forest. Both feature the Baddie being defeated. This did not feel like Herbert usual sharp rivetting style at all.
Instead it felt like a Writer who has writers block, and is desperately grabbing at old stuff and trying to churn it into new and Modern.
Inshort: RE-cycled. To read one review who compared him to JK Rowling is an insult to an Old Fan of Herberts.
The book is Pretty, illustrations will never be replace our imagination, and all I felt that effect acheived was just to reassure me that it wasn't as horrible as my imagination pictured!
After reading ONCE, I picked up my old Hardback of The Magic Cottage (of which I have two, one signed by Herbert himself years ago) and was convinced that, yes, he has lost the "magic" with his new offering.
Herbert, please restore my faith in you!
ONCE has no BITE at all.. "For adults"? Only the sexually explicit scene with a faery and a lesbian rape. Something cheap and nasty to be found in Adult mags lining the top shelf.
He has alway had a Sex-horror element in a few of his work, but it was there for a reason.This was just thrown in to pep-up the bland storyline.
I recommend MAGIC COTTAGE, ONCE you read that,(pardon the pun),you will know what I mean, to all old fans of Herbert, I am sure you will agree with me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Snow White meets The elves and the shoemaker, 15 May 2002
By 
I Weltch (Portsmouth, Hants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Once (Paperback)
I expected a 'SCARY' version of a fairy-tale but what I actually found was an 'ADULT' version of a fairy-tale. Adult being sexual content rather than the thrills and chills of a good horror read. 'Once' had all the usual fairy tale content, the good witch (actually a mermaid type girl), the evil witch, who, to Herbert's credit, was in fact deliciously evil and the good elf who helps our hero. I was expecting more from an author of such brilliant novels as 'Creed' and 'The Dark' but I was disappointed by the fact that the sexual content seemed to overpower the storyline.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An olde fashioned ghost story, 10 Oct 2001
By 
Mr. Paul J. Stephen (Leeds) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Once (Hardcover)
James Herbert is a great story-teller. An author who I always look forward to reading.
A friend of mine says his story are often very 'twee' and British, and it has to be said this follows the previous novels like The Magic Cottage, Haunted, etc etc very well. The old fashioned ghost stories are certainly a genre of the past when looking over the new horror releases and it is refreshing the James comes along every year or so to gives us another fix.
Not his best really but a solid interesting and spooky tale with the undertones of an adult fairy story. Sexual in nature, with portions taken from his other works... but he writes such a fine yarn that you are taken along at pace. The haunted woods , mansion , cottage are all here, and sewn together with a needle full of witchcraft.
If you've read his other stuff you know what your getting... if not try The Fog or the Rats trilogy first.
Recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not a patch on crickley hall, 18 Jan 2013
This review is from: Once (Paperback)
having been given the secret of crickley hall at xmas, iborrowed this, but it's like chalk and cheese. this is not so much stuff and nonsense as smut and nonsense.i am not prudish, but i just found it rather an odd combination. also, the constant lyrical descriptions of scents, colours and tame creatures in the wood became tiresome after a while.the actual plot buried in amongst this is not too bad, however, but i feel it could have been better handled. i have ash on order, so hope i shll not regret it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars From a Herbert virgin., 17 Mar 2011
By 
M. Cooper "Mick Cooper" (Worcestershire, England.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Once (Paperback)
Ooer missus! I wasn't expecting that! Describing the sex scenes in this book as graphic would be the understatement of the century. Not one for your granny (it all depends, of course, on the granny in question), but then "there's nowt as queer as folk"; or, in this case "faeriefolk". Maybe this should have been published by Star Paperbacks (the well known "adult" line).
Not a bad read at all; though I raised an eyebrow at at the writer's description of Nightingale song in the book's Shropshire setting (the species hasn't bred in the county for over 30 years), and the observation of Red Deer stags in full antler, at the same time of year (Nightingales have stopped singing, and packed their bags for Africa months before the stags acquire antlers).
"You sad, old pedant!" I hear you say; but, regardless of the subject matter, one would hope that authors undertake at least a modicum of research in the hope of creating a convincing scenario. The unseasonal antler issue could, I suppose, be a result of all the all the hormones knocking around this country estate. After all, everyone else seems to have "the horn", why shouldn't the stags? Furthermore, while we're still on the biological side of things: Why is it always the poor old corvids (crow family) that get cast as the agents of evil in this sort of stuff? I long for the day when I can read about "Demon Chaffinches".

Rant over. Buy it, read it, and enjoy it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars FAERIES AND MAGICK, 16 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Once (Paperback)
I don't think James Herbert is a good writer. His prose is unwieldy and his characters lifeless. However, he is often a good storyteller, and he has a talent for creating macabre horror set-pieces, for example the man pecked to death by his racing pigeons in "The Fog".
Every so often though the James Herbert Fiction Machine throws a wobbly and we get something like "Once". The premise, that fairies really do exist at the bottom of the garden, is interesting enough, but the story gets lost among endless descriptions of the countryside and the inclusion of laughable attempts at erotic scenes does nothing to help.
My advice is, give it a miss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars TERRIFIC FUN, AN ADULT FAIRY TALE, 15 Sep 2013
By 
This review is from: Once (Hardcover)
ONCE... James Herbert Hardcover 1st Edition 2001 and Kindle Edition

I have always been a great fan of horror genre novels since I started reading them as a boy in the early fifties and over the years have amassed a large collection, mainly paperback copies and I am now replacing many with Kindle Editions. This re-organisation has also given me the chance to revisit books that I have not read for a while and was amazed to discover that I had not re-read most of my James Herbert collection for far too long. I had collected his new titles each year from first discovering THE FOG and THE RATS in the 1970s and I believe that the first two decades were by far his best work, novels of the late 1990s and after becoming rather market orientated and written to a formula. ONCE... is one of the exceptions it has remained a favourite since I first read it after publication.

ONCE... is an adult, erotic faerytale, with faeries, elves, hellhagges and demons. Thom Kindred has returned to Little Bracken, the house of his childhood, to recover from a stroke induced during a car accident a woodland cottage on the Bracken Estate that has many memories for Thom, most of which have been unknowingly suppressed. During his rehabilitation strange events unfold that have a lot to do with his past, his mother and the father that he never knew. Thom is drawn into a world of beings and creatures that should only exist in faerytale story books, but not all of them are benign some are evil, terribly evil.

ONCE... is a story which should not work for the adult reader of horror fiction.... but it does! It is very well written that has great depth, and despite the faerytale setting is masterfully crafted to keep the adult reader entertained and involved with the characters who are wonerfully innocent, erotic, devious and terribly evil. A marvellous fantasy.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings..., 24 Mar 2009
By 
FAMOUS NAME (UNITED KINGDOM) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Once (Hardcover)
I do not as a rule read 'contemporary' fiction, and so when I purchased this, I must not have realised this, but have been swayed by its fantasy element. Though having heard of him, this was my first and possibly last purchase by James Herbert.

Whilst being of no literary masterpiece or classic prose though, this was extremely readable, since I kept going well past the point where I may have otherwise put it down for the reasons mentioned. The chapter 'twentieth' I really got lost in - in a magical way and it made a lasting impression upon me. The morning I finished reading this particular chapter, I looked out of my bedroom window (I live in the Shropshire countryside where this novel is set) and across the garden, and saw two birds hopping along the lawn; I immediately became their size and realised that the daffodils with their bobbing yellow heads they passed must have seemed like tall trees to them! It prompted me to contemplate the world from their perspective. Powerful stuff indeed!

In total contrast to this superbly written chapter, the chapter 'twenty-third' was by far the worst I was to read - it seemed to bear no relation to the actual story, and simply seemed to have been added as a mere 'thrill' for those men who are forever fantasising about two women getting it on together. ( I wonder how many 'straight' writers would have written the same piece about two guys!?) I am not a prude, and do not have a problem with this kind of writing - in the right place or novel, but I found this repulsive and not at all 'erotic' from any viewpoint, which I think was perhaps the author's intention in a perverse sort of way, and consequently it spoilt the whole book for me... It was at this point that I came closest to giving up on this read.

As if this wasn't bad enough, and so soon after, in the very next chapter, the chapter 'twenty-fourth', there is a reference to the Icelandic Singer 'Bjork' (without being actually named - but there can be no mistaking who this is) and spoils everything still further for me... Totally ridiculous and pointless in my opinion... (I am assuming the Writer must inevitably be a fan - hence why he felt the need to bring her into this novel - however remote)

The subject matter of the last few chapters were certainly 'milked' for all they were worth, in terms of being terribly drawn out in the longest possible way... The 'forest storm' chapter for instance went on and on and became exceedingly boring, and at this point, I just wanted to get past these, and to finish the book in a rush... The novel is almost five hundred pages long, and so I failed to see the need for the protraction of these last few chapters, and I think the story would have faired better in any case had it been a couple of hundred or so pages shorter. I also found the 'unoriginal' and obvious plots (those outside the fantasy element at least) rather disappointing...

However, despite all these criticisms, I have mixed feelings about the book: throughout there were many parts when I was unsure as to whether I actually liked and enjoyed it or not - yet to my surprise, I did finish it!
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Once
Once by James Herbert (Paperback - 4 May 2007)
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