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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the latest novel from author Paul Magrs (pronounced Mars like the chocolate) and it is a little book with a big bite (sorry bad pun). It tells the story of an outbreak of vampirism, a little black book, an ancient effigy, some friends from New York and a little bookshop on the Charring Cross road with an unusual number.

Liza is the auntie of Shelly who works in the Museum of Outsider Art, Shelley is having a romantic entanglement with her boss the curator, the impossibly English Daniel. He collects old and quaint things including books. She wants to impress and to have the approval of her aunt Liza (real name Elizabeth Bathory - not too subtle) who is a book reviewer and a past hand at vamp dispatching. They have a mutual friend in Jack who is not only gay but works in a specialist book store. Well he finds the little shop in London and Liza starts getting books from them of antique lore and horrors from writers long since forgotten. After a number of successful transactions she is sent an unusual book, with an unusual smell, and worse still unusual powers. Daniel wants it, Shelley wants Daniel, Liza wants to be left alone and no one wants the odd smelling effigy of a long dead Scottish bride.

Confused, well there is no need, this is a light hearted romp through familiar territory for horror fans, but this is not that horrific at all. It made me laugh in more than one place and has a few nice takes in the Vampire front. It is driven by the action and the exchanges of the main players. It does go at a blistering pace, and there is a real sense of care about all of the characters involved, and I really enjoyed it.

Magrs has come up with a real page turner, this is not great fiction, but it is great fun, so if you like a light hearted take on the current vampire obsession, then you will not be disappointed. If you want a serious Gothic tale, then this will not be for you, fans of `The League of Gentleman' series will find a welcome home for this on their bookshelves.
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on 29 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was my first experience of Paul Magrs - novelist, as opposed to scriptwriter, and it was a very pleasant experience indeed.
Unfortunately the homage to 86 Charing Cross rd doesn't last very long, as the delivery of a grimoire to Liza Bathory has all the effect of an IED on her friends and family.
In a world where the presence of vampires, Frankenstein's second bride( I love Bessie),
and supernatural shenanigans by the shed load are just taken in the characters stride ; there are a few moments of WTFery. However you could find far worse ways of spending an autumn evening. I'm sure this is the opener of a new series, so, I'm hoping that with nthe next book, we get to know more of Liza's backstory. All in all good creepy fun.
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on 18 February 2013
The strength of the story is in the characters. They're mostly ordinary (or seemingly ordinary) people with mundane concerns who encounter the occult and must deal with it as best they can. Shelley and Jack are regular New Yorkers who get dragged into demonic business by their boyfriends. Liza appears to be an eccentric old bibliophile, but she knows more about spooky stuff than she lets one, not that this stops her from making some pretty catastrophic mistakes. Even the antagonist Daniel can be understood to an extent, thought he's not particularly likeable even before he gets possessed.
The writing style felt very similar to the later Brenda and Effie books. It's an informal style that has a lot of the characters thoughts and preoccupations laid out on the page. It means that you always know what emotional state the viewpoint character is in and feel close to them quite quickly, even if you don't agree with them. Some of the writing feels like it's telling rather than showing (which is generally a cardinal sin for a writer) but the way the points of view are done means that though you are being told one thing, you are also being shown something else.
666 Charing Cross Road is definitely more of a horror story than the Whitby-based books. The plot features a single major threat and plays out across a few months, with the character's lives being increasingly taken over (and lost) to the danger. In this way it felt more like a film than the more playful, complex Brenda and Effie series, which at times has the feel of an sketch show.
I enjoyed 666 Charing Cross Road and I'm keen to read more about these characters if further titles come out, though at the moment I still prefer Brenda and Effie.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 22 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
666 Charing Cross Road introduces us to an interesting and somewhat bizarre group of characters and that is even before the fun starts! Key players are the rather mysterious little old lady, Liza who it is strongly hinted has supernatural powers, her favorite niece, Shelley, who works at the museum, Liza's friend Jack from the Fangtasm Bookshop and Shelley's boyfriend and boss, the rather snobbish Englishman, Daniel. Then there is the real star of the show, The Scottish Bride which is an effigy which Shelley has found in the museum basement and who becomes the centrepiece of the Women and Madness Exhibition.

When Liza obtains an unrequested ancient magical book or grimoire from the London bookstore, all hell breaks loose, literally! From then onwards there is never a dull moment. There is the demonic possession of a newly suave and sophisticated Daniel by the mysterious Mr M. Vampires and zombies abound in an entertaining and sometimes frenetic story which starts on the streets of the Big Apple and crosses the Atlantic for an explosive climax in the heart of London. This is one of those books where there is a clear and unambiguous divide between good and evil and readers are left in no doubt as to which side they should be rooting for.

Strangely the prologue is a chapter which appears later and which is reproduced verbatim. This is an odd beginning as the chapter makes no sense out of context, but makes perfect sense when it appears about 100 pages later. Not sure of the idea behind this.

Clearly there is a lot of mileage in this story as the first in a future series. Liza, Shelley and, of course Bessie, the Scottish Bride are sufficiently interesting characters to make me want to read more of their adventures. This is quite a sophisticated tale unlike many of the vampire genre and there is a strong, darkly humorous undercurrent throughout. It is quite a grown up take on the subject, and if the reader is able to suspend disbelief this is a very enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fairly entertaining comic-Gothic romp.

Winter in New York. As Christmas approaches, an ancient evil arrives in the city, carried by a sinister grimoire, an ancient book of magic spells and lore. It finds the perfect host, and a motley group of New Yorkers have to confront it - with the help of an ally as sinister and unlikely as the monster itself.

"666 Charing Cross Road" clearly draws inspiration from 84 Charing Cross Road with avid book collector Liza (who, as we learn, has a History to her) following up an advert and developing a correspondence with a mysterious bookseller at 666 Charing Cross Road, before finally getting her heart's desire and travelling to London. However, Mr Wright's (groan...) merchandise is rather less benign than that of Marks & Co.

I found this book enjoyable. As well as the literary nod, it has a dash of grim humour, rides the current wave of vampire/ zombie popularity and has some amusing moments. However, I felt the mix was perhaps on the sweet side, with little real sense of menace, and the characters were rather sketchily drawn - I found it hard to care much about anyone (other, perhaps, than the strange Bessie, the most striking of the lot).

This looks like the first in a series - possibly Magrs will deepen/ darken it a bit, and develop his characters over time?

(If you want a punning review title, you could do worse that "It's Grimoire up New York". OK, maybe you couldn't.)
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a beautifully paced piece of nonsense with a sense of style and an entertaining cast of characters. Unlike some authors, Magrs doesn't bore us with lore or learning, but concentrates on the story - possessed loony strives for world mastery - and the book is much the better for it. Both the main settings - New York and London - are brought to life without romanticising and their characteristics are skillfully used as part of the book's charm. You will not, I suspect, agree with the cover's comparisons with Angela Carter or Alan Bennett (Magrs isn't in their league - not yet, anyway) though there is a hint of Gatiss's touch; but this doesn't matter, as I'm as sceptical of such claims as most readers, and this didn't influence my decision to read the book. I found a good yarn, entertainingly told - and that's enough for me in these days of over-hyped, over-extended fantasy trilogies. There is a hint that there could be a follow-up - let us hope the author has the sense to resist the urge.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the first book I have read by Paul Magrs.

He writes in a very curious writing style - really short sentences so that nothing flows, its "Jack did this". Then "Shelley did that". Then "Consuela did that". I found it extremely tiring to read.

I know its supposed to be a fantasy comedy, and you have to suspend disbelief, but the characters were too poorly defined and fantastical for me to care about them (with the exception of Jack and even he has some pretty breathtaking lapses of logic) - by the end I didn't care who finished up dead or alive, I was just grateful to get to the end of the book.

If you like this kind of jerky writing style, you may enjoy another book I really disliked The Book With No Name

Update: By chance I picked up a copy of Never the Bride (Brenda 1) - Its as though that book and this one are by two different authors. Love Brenda and Effie, but this is a very inferior follow up to the Whitby series.
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on 24 June 2013
This is the scariest Magrs book I've read yet, having arrived here via Brenda & Effie then To The Devil - A Diva!

Starting as a supernatural mystery the book evolves into a fast paced thriller. On the plus side: the writing flows and the story moves and surprises at a good pace. There are a few gory moments which go a bit further then the other books I've read (and personally aren't to my taste) but overall the tone is good old menacing and scary with some genuine edge of seat moments - and a few teasers thrown in for us B&E fans!

On the downside: I wasn't so involved with all the characters, possibly due to the US setting (although don't let that put you off, you'll soon settle in).

Overall though, it's a thoroughly enjoyable, scary romp. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in a vampire themed thriller for holiday reading or just under the covers at Midnight.

One last word: where's Henry Cleavis when you need him??
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VINE VOICEon 23 November 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you have read and enjoyed the Brenda and Effie stories I'm sure you will thoroughly enjoy these, the glamour of New York and the nod to the classic tale 84 Charing Cross Road are added bonuses. As with the 'Whitby' series of books the female characters are at the heart of this book with the brilliant 'Scottish Bride' Bessie, Shelley the museum curator who discovers her long waiting body and Shelley's wonderful Aunt Liza but some of the other characters do lack depth and credibility. The book begins with Shelley's boyfriend unleashing evil in New York but the chronological beginning is the arrival of a book with secrets that Aunt Liza receives from a London 'Charing Cross' bookseller.
Larger than life characters; quirks and twists; vampires and the undead; plus a pacey style all make this an enjoyable romp. The writing can be uneven and it can lack finesse but for sheer fun it is a quick easy read to amuse you on a winter night!
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VINE VOICEon 29 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I ordered this book after very much enjoying the Brenda and Effie series, and I wasn't disappointed.

We are, of course, a long way from Whitby - the action takes place in New York, where Bessie, the undead "Scottish Bride" has been sleeping in a Manhattan gallery for a long, long time. The arrival of an ancient and arcane book with a sinister bloodstain releases a demon which, by biting the young Englishman Daniel, breeds a new kind of vampire which plagues the streets of New York. Bessie rises up to help avid book collector Liza and her friends fight this evil and return the book to London where it belongs.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The plot flows along at Magrs normal breakneck speed - with a number of quirky asides. The characters are decidedly odd (some of them), but lovable all the same, and I definitely cared about what might happen next! Oh, and there's plenty of humour - this is definitely a COMIC-gothic tale.

I would recommend this to people who enjoy fantasy and like to read things that are a little quirky. You definitely have to be able to suspend disbelief and go with the flow!

NB: I haven't read 84 Charing Cross Road, but this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book.
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