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on 20 April 2017
Rather intriguing books - I very much enjoy them.
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on 15 August 2010
Something Borrowed is the second novel in the Brenda and Effie series, following Never the Bride and succeeded by Conjugal Rites. Like its predecessor, the story is told in the first person by the main character, Brenda, but unlike it, this novel is related in the present tense, which I found rather off-putting, a literary game for which there was really no need. Like its predecessor, Something Borrowed tells of mysterious goings-on in the legend-haunted North Eastern coastal town of Whitby. This time, poison-pen letters are going around the town, sowing seeds of suspicion in their wake, something is haunting Brenda, and an old friend has returned from the grave. On top of this, Brenda has to cope with the return of someone from her past, and the sudden deluge of memories this brings. As is this weren't enough to cope with, the town is falling increasingly under the spell of an ancient Being from the dawn of time itself.

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.
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on 22 March 2010
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.
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on 11 April 2009
Something Borrowed is Paul Magrs second foray into the world of Brenda and Effie who are two of the most delightful characters to go on a journey of almost 400 pages with. Brenda, not quite considered an outsider by the town but by no means a local yet, runs a B&B in Whitby next door to Effie and her Antique's Shop. These two unlikely friends like nothing more than morning tea's, gossiping and investigating all the mysteries of Whitby and its locals; also known as sticking their noses into other peoples business. It's ironic in some ways that both of them love to find out all the secret going on in everyone else's lives when they go to great lengths to hide their less than normal and mysterious pasts.

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.
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on 17 December 2008
I feel as though I have just jumped off a moving train....
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!
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VINE VOICEon 30 November 2007
Following on from `Never the Bride', `Something Borrowed' sees the return of Brenda and Effie and follows them on further adventures around Whitby. If you haven't read `Never the Bride', it might be better to start there but it isn't essential.

Brenda, the original Bride of Frankenstein (literally), is called on by her elderly friend Effie to help investigate a series of poison pen letters being received by Whitby folk. The most prominent recipient is Sheila Manchu, the wife of the notorious Mu Mu Manchu.... In order to solve the mystery Brenda will be forced to delve into the past that she has kept buried deeply.

If you have read the first book, you'll know to expect fantastic black humour with a gothic twist. The novel borrows from other gothic novels and characters including Dracula, Day of the Triffids, Frankenstein and The Wicker Man.

Another glorious instalment with an ending that means I can't wait for the next book in the series!
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on 22 September 2007
After reading the first instalment by Magrs in this series "Never the Bride" I was left eager to find out what happened next in this funny, dark and thrilling adventure story. So it's great to say that "Something Borrowed" does not disappoint. Magrs' protagonist Brenda, a Whitby B&B landlady with a hammer horror past has come to retire at the Yorkshire coast for the quite life, to spoil her guests and gossip with her best friend, the spinster next door, Effie. However, it's more than the lure of whitebait at Cod Almighty, and walks along the peer that have drawn Brenda to Whitby. It's become her destiny to battle with all the creatures that are spat straight from hell to run amok in the seaside town.

"Something Borrowed" is pure indulgence, with its original mix of the macabre, humour, detection and the supernatural. What is surprising is how much I have come to care about Brenda, who is not a freak of nature but of science. Whilst utterly enjoyable and thrilling, once the book is over, not only am I Ieft wanting more again, but questioning what is a freak? If I can love this woman of many human parts, is it the other we can see that we should be scared of, or the darker side of humanity that lurks within? In this case it is the unknown other who is the hero. If you only read one book this year, make it this one. I've recommended "Never the Bride" and "Something Borrowed" to many friends, of completely different literary tastes and without exception they have loved it. I just can't wait for Magrs' third instalment in what is becoming an exciting genre of his own.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 November 2011
Paul Magr's unique style and vivid imagination combine in Something Borrowed to produce a story which seems a little disjointed at times, but certainly fascinates in part due to the bizarre entities which populate the book. It took me a while to get into this story and I think this was partly due to it being written in the first person present tense. This is not an easy medium to write in and at times I felt the delivery seemed quite awkward here.

However, the author puts together an incredible cast of characters including, but not limited to, Jessie the zombie womanzee, Henry Cleavis the professor who seemingly never ages, an alien bamboo deity, Count Alucard (try spelling it backwards) and Brenda who narrates the tale and is constantly in danger of coming apart.......literally! The story really gets going when Brenda starts to remember the events of 1946, prompted by some hypnosis from Cleavis. This sub story is attention grabbing, and when we get back to the present day tale, that really picks up from that point.

This book is a sequel to Never the Bride, the first Brenda and Effie story, and there are regular references to that book. Sometimes it makes no difference which order you read sequential books in, but here I did think that it would have been a good idea if I had read that book first. However, ultimately I did find this an enjoyable if totally improbable romp with fascinating, unique characters though it is one of those books where you do not need to suspend disbelief, more like abolish it!
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on 3 April 2010
i had read the first book- Never the Bride- by Paul Margs and loved it so much that i had to read the second book which is called Something borrowed, this tells the tale of Brenda and her best pal Effie, they go on adventures all over whitby getting rid of monters and supernature beings, which brings lots of suprises of sometimes terrifing encounters for both girls, and a little romance along the way with Henry Cleavis a man Brenda knew 60 years ago and hasnt changed one bit. What with Jessie the womenize zombie running around town and the wicker-man god wanting to take over everyones mind, Brenda and Effie have got a very busy few weeks on their hands.
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on 28 October 2010
Reading the second installment of Brenda and Effie's antics (after the first in the series 'Never the bride') is something I've been looking forward to for quite a while. But as tales of paranormal goings-on just read much better in the colder months, I've been holding out until now.

The action takes place shortly after the last book ended. Brenda's hopes of sliding back into her role as inconspicuous B&B landlady are scuppered when poison pen letters start arriving on the doorsteps of all the Whitby residents with colourful pasts (and who has had a more colourful past than our favourite bride Brenda herself?). Brenda's sidekick Effie (think Miss Marple but with lines Blanche from Coronation Street might have come up with) seems to have got a taste for this investigating malarkey and is only too happy to jump straight into sleuthing once more to find out who - or what - has been dashing off this most venomous of hate mail.

As if the poison pen letters weren't enough to keep them busy, their old friend Jessie (now more bloodthirsty chimp than woman thanks to her visits to the Deadly Boutique in the first novel) is hiding out on the beach waiting to pounce on any unsuspecting passers-by, the sinister Mrs Claus seems to be up to no good again and the residents of the town are getting themselves into quite a lather at the new furniture bought specially for Sheila Manchu's hedonistic BBQs. I don't think I'll ever look at wicker in the same way again! And on top of that Brenda has a gentleman caller. But how welcome will he really be when he helps bring back glimpses from her long forgotten past?

The storylines that Paul Magrs has come up with in this installment are still every bit as inventive as the first in the series, somehow managing to put a new (and very funny) slant on the gothic history of rainy, windswept Whitby. For me the only downside with the novel was I felt I hadn't got as much Brenda and Effie time as I would have liked. Personally I think the very heart of these novels is the quirky relationship between these two very unconventional, older women. With quite a bit of the middle part of the novel spent delving into Brenda's personal history, I just felt a bit disappointed not to get more time with both of them as they make such a fab double act.

The novel ends on a real cliffhanger though and I really don't know how long I can hold out this time before I gorge myself on the third novel in the series. Well, winter is coming after all so I don't want to deny myself too much...
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