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Something Borrowed, Everything New,
This review is from: Something Borrowed (Brenda 2) (Paperback)
There are good ideas and there are great ideas.
Naming a band 'Dogs Die in Hot Cars' and my own plan to remake Seven Brides for Seven Brothers using only the music of 'The Smiths' are *good* ideas.
Tetris, naming a band 'The Jesus and Mary Chain', and Joss Whedon making his vampire slayer a hot young Valley girl are *great* ideas.
But Paul Magrs making his vampire hunter the Bride of Frankenstein? Now that's a *superb* idea.
Not that I'd want to give the impression that Magrs' series of books about Brenda (Whitby B&B woman and wonderfully human creature of the night) is in any sense a mere extension of Whedon's earlier TV series. As shows like BBC's "Torchwood" amply demonstrated, trying to copy Joss Whedon leads only to crass scenes of alien sex in toilets and tedious yawnfests aplenty - and Paul Magrs isn't the pinching ideas kind of writer in any case.
Other writers work isn't so much grist to his mill as an odd kind of mulch fermenting in his head, being subsumed and broken down to its constituent parts before being re-exposed to the fresh air as something virtually unrecognisable.
Which brings me neatly to Magrs new book, "Something Borrowed", the sequel to "Never the Bride", in which all manner of dark and forgotten creatures come burrowing back into the light of day to menace Brenda and Effie.
Opening a little after the events of the first novel in the series, "Something Borrowed" features (as you would expect) many of the cast of that book but also - to the delight of this reader at least - Henry Cleavis, Reg Tyler and the rest of the Smudgelings, as seen in both Magrs' Doctor Who novel, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", and his more recent 'real world' novel, "To the Devil - A Diva".
Fresh from the discovery that Whitby hosts its very own Hellmouth, Brenda unexpectedly hooks up with old flame, centenarian academic and Smudgelings' founder member, Henry Cleavis and in doing so awakens long repressed memories from the past. Meanwhile, someone is sending poison pen letters round town, Effie and the Womanzee get shot at, Sheila Manchu turns to the ladies for help and Brenda has some very unexpected visitations in the night.
This is, quite simply, the best book of the year - a marvellous mix of an Alan Moore comic and an Alan Bennett play, packed with the odd, the perverse and the fabulous, stuffed with memorable characters and over-flowing with incident, both humorous and otherwise. Where else but in a Magrs novel would you expect to see both the Bride of Frankenstein rescuing her 100 year old lover from Goomba the Wicker(work Chair) Man and a genuinely human and touching tale of the strengths which bind friends together?
Nowhere, that's where.
Which is why Magrs is an author to be treasured in these days of writing by rote and publishing only the plastic and the puerile. Do everyone a favour - don't bother buying whatever the latest formulaic Garth Nix series novel is called and buy "Something Borrowed" instead. Then ignore the adverts for "The Bejewelled Sword of Wizardry in the Land of Implausible Unicorns and Other Faintly Chirpy Nonsense" and buy the rest of Magrs' books instead.