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4.2 out of 5 stars56
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 13 March 2012
I have been really looking forward to reading this novel after hearing such good things about it in the past. I am originally from the North and spend a lot of time in Whitby and have a real fondness of the town, so this book seemed perfect for me. I was expecting a read with a real sense of place, great characterisation and a quirky plot. Though I found this to be a worthwhile read, unfortunately for me it just wasn't as fantastic as I had been expecting.

Bed and Breakfast owner Brenda is something of an enigma, even to those who know her- including her best friend Effie who owns a junk shop next door. Brenda is not only scarred on the outside, but also on the inside as well and is hiding a terrible secret about her past. As strange goings on suddenly start happening in the town, she comes to realise that she and Effie are somehow tied up in something sinister and that in confronting the problem, she may have to reveal her true identity to her friend.

As I've said, this was a good read, entertaining enough to keep my interest. Though Brenda isn't human and that is obvious from the outset of the novel, I do like that Magrs has given her very human emotions and traits. She is hurt easily and suffers from jealousy. She is also very eager to please. I think that this elicits empathy in the reader and it did make me want to know more about Brenda. Effie I felt a bit indifferent to, to be honest, though I did like how ultimately she took everything in her stride and wasn't fazed by the strange goings on in gothic Whitby.

Ultimately, whilst I found this novel enjoyable enough and a pleasant read, I did not feel the sense of place I was anticipating and though I understand this was fiction of course, the author has taken a few liberties with Whitby that aren't factually true- Whitby doesn't have a funfair, for example. There were a couple of other things that I picked up on as well that niggled me (sorry, I know this sounds obsessive, but I've felt this in other books I've read about Whitby and other places and it really annoys me).

What I did find a bit distracting as well was that the book had multiple storylines going on, flitting from one to the other. Though they were actually leading up to something and tied together properly at the end, I did feel that it gave the book a bit of a clunky, disjointed narrative which I didn't really like. I prefer a storyline that flows a little better. On the other hand, this is the perfect book to pick up and put down again if that appeals to you and if you don't have a lot of time to get fully immersed in a novel.

All in all, an easy way to pass a few hours, just not worthy of the hype bestowed on it in my opinion. 3.5 stars from me, though I'm hoping for a stronger read next time- I do have the next couple of books in the series to read and will get around to them-but I'm not in any immediate rush to do so now. If you do like whimsical, quirky novels that lean towards a touch of the gothic, then this could be the book for you.
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on 30 January 2009
Brenda runs a B&B in Whitby, she has chosen the location for its peace and quiet and also as somewhere to finally settle along with her best friend Effie she spends various afternoons having tea or having a nice night out together. They also love a gossip and they also love a good nosey into mysterious happenings which seem to be happening a lot more often in Whitby.

Why does everyone come from `The Deadly Boutique' looking several years younger but also growing oddly smaller? Who are the strange Green Family who come and stay with Brenda and have an odd look about them? Who is the new mysterious Mr Alucard? What is really going on at The Christmas Hotel with its scarily sweet owner? In what could be a collection of short stories you are taken on an adventure each time with Brenda and Effie as they bumble along like two slightly warped Miss Marple's, a character I adore.

Having read some other reviews which said the book was `like living in parallel Whitby where demons and vampires live with the locals' or `totally for Goths' or `surreal sci-fi' my thoughts are `no, no, no'. Do not let these reviews put you off as they might have done me. This book shouldn't be pigeonholed into genres its simply fantastical story telling where spooky goings on happen in a sleepy sea side tourist trap. I wanted to move their instantly and be having afternoon teas with Brenda and Effie straight away.

Magrs has created two brilliant heroines. Brenda is nosey and investigative but kind and thoughtful which balances out Effie's slightly cynical and misunderstanding nature. Both of them, though Brenda far more so, also have very dark pasts and as the book develops you slowly find out more and more about the two women and the skeletons in their cupboards.

I absolutely loved this as you can probably tell. I didn't think it was like Buffy the Vampire Slayer in book for I thought it was a wonderful tale about two nosey women, their friendship and what happens when things start to go bump in the night. If you loved Willis Hall, Robin Jarvis or even The Brothers Grim as a youngster then you will love this book as someone older. Or if like me you love Most Haunted, there is a brilliant similar show in the book with hilarious outcomes or anything of a spooky nature. This book has thrills, spills, spooks and a good sprinkling of laughter thrown in. Perfect!
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on 16 August 2014
Fun crime read that joins monster mysteries with everyday tourist Whitby life, love the relationship between the two amateur detectives!
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on 6 February 2015
I really enjoyed reading this book, loved the fact it's set in Whitby, my favourite place.
Can't wait to read the next book.
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on 12 December 2015
A delightful book, witty and warm. Heartily recommended for reading in front of a fire in a pub in North Yorkshire, as I did.
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on 12 December 2015
Amazing story! Unpredictable, funny, quirky, and weird all rolled into a truly entertaining saga of two old biddies.
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on 12 December 2015
I love this series. I recommend new readers to start here, then devour the rest of the books in the series as I did.
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on 28 November 2013
The most curious, engaging and entertaining book I've ever read. As they say in Yorkshire, I can't get me breath...
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on 12 December 2015
Another well written addictive book by Paul. Wonderful imagination, will never bore of his books. Thank you
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on 12 December 2015
Good fun and very lovable characters. Although I do wonder if Effie is an incarnation of Iris :)
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