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Something Borrowed (Brenda 2) Paperback – 6 Sep 2007
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The thrilling follow-up to last year's NEVER THE BRIDE
About the Author
Paul Magrs was born in the North East of England. After seven years at the University of East Anglia teaching English Literature and Creative Writing, he now lives in Manchester and lectures part-time at the Manchester Metropolitan University.
Top customer reviews
Whereas Never the Bride was a novel made up of several short stories, the plot of Something Borrowed feels more integrated. That said, I felt there was too much flashback to Brenda's earlier life, much of which reads like padding. Overall, a slight disappointment, but the finale, which leads into the third novel, promises much, and I shall be continuing with the series.
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.
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.
I will be reading more and soon!
there are many comparisons in these reviews but the voice I was hearing above all was Douglas Adams. Paul Magrs gives us quirky, fantastic characters and deals with them in the same matter of fact almost world weary way that Adams used to such acclaim.
I just hope he becomes as prolific!