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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 February 2012
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There is something decidedly "old-school" about the way F.G. Cottam puts together his horror chillers; reliant mainly upon slow development, gathering menace and strange, inexplicable supernatural happenings which play out at a psychological level - at his best these tools are strongly effective. With "Brodmaw Bay", however, I felt there was something a little laboured in his approach.
Perhaps it was the way he relayed background to his plot-setting that had a very "researched" feel to it, or the many superfluous contemporary cultural references that peppered the narrative, or the rather pessimistic view of contemporary London - no doubt intended to make the idea of the Cornish village all the more idyllic - but coming across as unnecessary, bombastic tub-thumping. All the characters in the Greer family excel at something - even the father, who sees himself as a failure but isn't really - and the irritatingly precocious personas of the children which immediately brings a smugly affluent, middle-class perspective to the proceedings.
The plot was reasonably well constructed, though I found the central idea predictable and a bit hackneyed, with twists just a little too fortunate and contrived to be convincing.
This is all very negative; I really wanted to like this book but found it disappointing, especially in comparison to "Dark Echo" which I read a few months ago.
Nevertheless, in its favour, it did keep me reading till the end; contrivances aside, it was entertaining, just not the best I feel this author can deliver.
This is by no means a bad novel, but it isn't particularly outstanding.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 30 April 2012
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First published back in November of 2011, British author Francis Cottam's (aka F. G. Cottam) fifth novel to see publication was the quietly sinister tale entitled 'Brodmaw Bay'.

DLS Synopsis:
The Greer family had always enjoyed living in London. The busy hustle and bustle of the city life is what they had come to call home. But, when James and Lillian Greer's teenage son Jack is seriously wounded by a tyre iron wielding youth during a mugging, James decides that London is no longer a safe place to call home. And it's as his mind is full of these thoughts, as he sits by his unconscious son lying in the hospital bed, that he comes across a children's book entitled 'Brodmaw Bay' that shows a collection of beautiful illustrations of the most idyllic and quaintly old-fashioned coastal village that Greer could ever imagine. Illustrations that were undoubtedly the work of his very own wife - the now very successful children's book illustrator.

However, Lillian Greer has absolutely no recollection of doing these particular illustrations. The date of publication shows that they would have been done during her time at university, studying for her creative profession. Other than that, she has no clue. And so, armed now with his own copy of the book, James Greer starts to do a little digging on the internet. And the search engine results reveal that Brodmaw Bay is in fact a very real place. A place that James Greer is quickly becoming convinced is the right place for his family to live.

With the decision that they will finally get out of London made, James Greer takes a couple of days to visit the Cornish fishing village by himself, to see if the area really is what they have been looking for. Staying at the local pub 'The Leeward Arms', Greer immediately finds himself warmly welcomed by the locals, in particular the somewhat out-of-place aristocratic couple Richard & Elizabeth Penmarrick.

James Greer lays his intentions to move to Brodmaw Bay on the table, and finds that the Penmarrick's, as well as the rest of the small community, are more than happy with the inclusion of some 'new blood' in their tightly-knit village. Furthermore, Richard Penmarrick has under his management a vacant house that seems to meet the Greer family's needs. A property named Topper's Reach that is itself steeped in the old-fashioned fishing port's history.

Completely taken by the quaint and out-of-the-way location, James Greer returns to London to bring his wife out to the Bay to see if she too is equally as besotted by the village and their very possible new life there. Whilst they are gone, James' brother Mark looks after their two children, the now recovering Jack and his younger sister Olivia. But Olivia has been seeing strange things recently. Disturbing glimpses of an eerie faceless man in their garden. Not only that, but she has a new friend. Although no one else can see this new friend of hers.

But it's not all plain sailing from here. The Greer's are in the midst of a very rocky patch in their marriage. Lillian has just broken off from an affair with popular children's book writer Robert O'Brien, of which Jack Greer has just found out about. As such their move to Brodmaw Bay promises to be a fresh new start for the family. One to make them stronger. One to bring them together closer. And one that on the whole promises to be a lot safer.

But Brodmaw Bay has its own secrets. Paganism is still very much a part of the life of such communities, but Brodmaw Bay seems to have kept even more with the local beliefs and traditions. A history that once called upon dark and inherently evil forces, with ritualistic practices at the very core of the village.

A history that has not yet been forgotten...

DLS Review:
From the outset, Cottam sticks with a particularly slow and reserved pace, only very gradually setting down the key aspects to the storyline amongst a plodding quagmire of the Greer's recent rocky patch in their family life. The writing style itself is not overly verbose, but instead Cottam feels the need to get deeply involved in all of the day-to-day ins and outs of the Greer's family life.

Only after the reader has traipsed through approximately a quarter of the novel do the very beginnings of the move to Brodmaw Bay become a very distinct possibility. Up until this point, the preceding storyline had been almost completely dedicated to firmly setting down the premise and working upon the general development of the characters - in particular Lillian Greer's affair with Robert O'Brien.

It must be said that Cottam has managed to paint a very fleshed-out and believable picture to base his story upon. Brodmaw Bay and its quaint community feel very real, as if it is still nestled away in a far corner of modern-day England. Indeed, the whole premise just reads like a real-life and almost mundane scenario, with little jumping out of the storyline as particularly thrilling.

But the story is a slow-burner. Good god is it just! However, slowly but surely, Cottam starts to creep in the sinister and downright eerie undertones of something that just doesn't fit right with the village and the family's relocation there. Furthermore, the handful of ghostly apparitions that appear within the first half of the novel are more mysterious than they are chilling. But they do offer some help in developing the change in mood for the tale.

Forget any degree of excitement. There's really none at all, bar the last thirty to forty pages of the book. It's more an atmospheric and (hopefully) unsettling read, that very very slowly starts to get under the reader's skin with the combination of all those things that are just not quite right about Brodmaw Bay.

What transpires in the end is a somewhat more reserved 'The Wicker Man' (1973) mixed with an incredibly watered-down Lovecraftian element. Indeed, the similarities to 'The Wicker Man' (1973) are undeniable and can be seen throughout the length of the novel. But Cottam's re-imagining of the basic concept behind the classic Hammer story doesn't really hit the same mark. All of the way through the novel, the tale is plagued by the plodding and over-worked 'family' storyline. It just becomes too monotonous. Too reserved and too restrained to really get the reader gripped into what's gradually unfolding.

There are twists in the plot. Some which jump out at the reader with their sudden unpredictable nature. Others are too simplistic and common ground to have little if any impact on the reader. But together they do help in some way with keeping the background cogs of the tale turning.

With pretty much all of the action coming in the very last segment of the novel, it does still work on some levels, but feels somewhat rushed on others. Instead of the final desperate moments delivering one particularly frantic episode, hitting the reader square on the chin with the sudden dramatic finale brought about by the uncovering of the truth - like with 'The Wicker Man' (1973) - the sudden burst of adrenaline at the end of the novel feels more clumsy, forced and out-of-place with the plodding storyline that preceded it. Cottam missed almost all of the opportunities to properly build on the tension and mounting suspense that should have brought the reader all geared-up to this final explosive point. And as such we are left with something that comes across as stale and sadly altogether unsuccessful.

The novel runs for a total of 345 pages.
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on 16 May 2012
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While I love all things horror, it does seem to me that the genre attracts more than its fair share of mediocre writers and that a true horror gem is rare to find. My search for genuinely frightening and well written horror books is a hopeful one, and I was drawn to Brodmaw Bay on the strength of its reviews.

Having completed the book my opinion is rather confused, but leans towards the negative for some fundamental reasons. The prose is competent in the most technical sense, and a lot of energy and research seems to have gone into building the story, yet the writing lacks passion or zest. I'm very happy reading books that are descriptive and slow paced just so long as the writing is engaging, with some kind of poetry to it, but the first half of Brodmaw Bay is so very drawn out and unyielding that I often found myself giving up and closing the book in sheer boredom. There are very many long and pointless descriptions of the past and mythology of Cornwall, which wouldn't have been a problem if written with vibrancy and dynamism, but the passages read as if spoken by rote by a rather uninspired history teacher.

Then there are the characters. If F.G. Cottam can be forgiven for his plodding prose, he cannot be forgiven for creating a group of the most lacklustre characters I've come across in a good few years of reading. James, Lillian, Jack and Olivia Greer are a family of improbable talents - a highly successful and revered artist, a gifted computer programmer, and a world standard footballer - but not one of them has enough personality to fill a thimble. F.G. Cottam transcribes his characters' laboured thought processes, explains how they're functioning, feeling, behaving, but the reader is forced to take his word for it because none of the assumed personality quirks or peculiarities are perceived by the reader as he observes the characters in their lives. Each character might as well be the same person, just described differently.

As for the dialogue, it is simply bizarre. The people F.G Cottam has invented speak with a preciseness and vocabulary that is technically correct but does not reflect the way anybody would actually talk in real life. The way they interact and behave is equally as unlikely, and some of the decisions they make are just incomprehensible. It makes the characters seem like aliens who are trying to fit in with the natives and not doing a very good job. The Cornish characters in particular have no trace of the colloquial speech or mannerisms that should make them interesting and distinctive. They're no different from the Londoners. It makes me wonder whether F.G. Cottam is of this earth at all.

For me, this poor characterisation is a fatal flaw in Brodmaw Bay's plot, as any fear or tension that I might feel on behalf of the characters is removed by virtue of the fact that I not only don't care about them but can't even imagine they exist. I think that it is essential in any horror book to have a liking and a sympathy for the characters so that the sensation of horror is heightened as you put yourself in their place.

Despite all this, F.G. Cottam does actually have a knack for writing some truly creepy passages. His writing style changes as he describes the dark side of the Bay, and takes on a subtleness and certain beauty that is not seen elsewhere in the writing. I genuinely found some of his descriptions of the church, and what lies within, chilling. I'm glad that I did stick with this book, because I started to properly enjoy it about three quarters of the way through when the Bay's pretty façade begins to fall away to reveal something rotten beneath. I wouldn't call the book's final chapters terrifying, but I definitely found them affecting and atmospheric. I was even quite sad when I turned the final page!

I've not read any of F.G. Cottam's other works, but from what others have said Brodmaw Bay is not his strongest offering. However, as it turned out, I enjoyed it in the end, despite its shortcomings. There is a certain honesty and unpretentiousness in F.G. Cottam's writing which is appealing, and you get the impression that he truly takes pleasure from what he writes. I imagine he got very absorbed in the research side of things and therefore included a bit more historical back-story in the first half of the novel than was necessary or prudent. I can't really recommend Brodmaw Bay, particularly as it is not apparently the author's best work, but if you have read and enjoyed his other books then I imagine you will appreciate this one too, particularly once you've got through the first half.
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VINE VOICEon 8 February 2012
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I enjoyed this book and it is well written. I like ghost stories that are set against a normal backdrop and in this respect this book doesn't disappoint. Lillian and James Greer and and their two children, Jack and Olivia, are a normal family living in South London. The kids do regular activities and the parents have good jobs. Lillian is the breadwinner as we join the story as she is a successful children's book illustrator and James invents computer games but doesn't seem to have the ruthless streak needed to become successful. Then one day, Jack is mugged on his way home from school and subtly their lives change with events conspiring to take them to the title of the book, the very picturesque Brodmaw Bay in Cornwall.

Some reviewers have likened this book to the Wicker Man and, true, there are similarities but this book does stand up in its own right and there are some compelling characters - both in London and Cornwall. The Greers have flaws and we see them as quite an insular family but they are very close and the children are deeply loved. I would have given this 5 stars but I felt there were one or two points towards the end that needed ironing out but to say what would give the plot away. I haven't read F G Cottam before but I think I will try some of his other books.
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on 24 June 2014
Having read a couple of Cottam's novels, I've concluded he has a problem with writing dialogue.

Given that this is a novel set in the present day, it's odd that the characters speak as if they are appearing in an Ealing film. All the dialogue is stilted and strangely arch. Frankly, it got on my nerves.

Oh, it isn't scary either.
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on 12 March 2012
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The story follows the Greer family who have become disenchanted with their lot in London and wish to make a move to the Cornish Coast. Almost immediately sinister happenings begin to occur. The father "happens" across an illustration of a Cornish fishing village his wife has illustrated many years ago. He feels compelled to visit Brodmaw Bay to see if it could be their next home. The daughter begins to draw haunting images at school, and a spooky face is seen in the garden of their London home.
All these chilling portends are ignored, and the family are warmly welcomed to the village. The characters in Brodmaw Bay are excellently portrayed and their sinister secret very gradually revealed. Shadows of doubt creep into the family's minds, and gradually they come to realise the idyllic Brodmaw Bay is not at all what it seems. F.G. Cottam will have you urging them to leave the Bay before it's too late, and the pages will be turning as you discover the plight of the Greer family.
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on 21 March 2012
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Brodmaw Bay is an engrossing story about the Greer family who decide to leave London after their son is attacked whilst travelling to school. The father, James, picks up a children's book whilst sitting in his son's hospital room and is immediately attracted to the idyllic Cornish seaside town portrayed in the book. He becomes obsessed with the idea of moving his family to this seemingly safe and peaceful place. The fact that the pictures appear to have been drawn by his illustrator wife fuels this obsession (even though she cannot remember drawing them). When James travels to Brodmaw Bay he finds that it more than meets his expectations and the locals are thrilled at the thought of a new family moving in. The move initially goes as planned, but it soon becomes clear that things are not quite as they seem.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as it is an enjoyably spooky page-turner. Whilst it is obvious that things are going to go wrong you are not sure how. I really liked the description of Brodmaw Bay. The description of the derelict church is actually quite unnerving. I also liked the way the Greer family was portrayed. You do like and sympathise with them, but it is not an uncritical portrayal. At the beginning of the novel you get the impression that they are a thoroughly middle-class family who are insulated from the real world due to their wealth. They are also shown as being incredibly naïve at times and they fall into the trap of thinking that life will be perfect once they escape London. James is especially naïve in that he just ignores all the warning signs. At times I felt like shaking him! This book does have some flaws. It's not terribly realistic at times. The residents of Brodmaw Bay are a bit two-dimensional and will inevitably make you think of The Wicker Man (especially the charismatic lord of the manor and the sexy teacher).

This novel is not perfect, but it has many enjoyably spooky moments and I shall definitely be reading more by F G Cottam.
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on 12 November 2011
Every once in a while I pick up a new book by a new author hoping to be rewarded. In 2009 I ordered "The House of Lost Souls" by F.G. Cottam from amazon. Before I was halfway through it I ordered his second novel "Dark Echo" from amazonUK because I didn't want to wait for the U.S. publication of it. Then there was the "Magdelena Curse", "The Waiting Room" and this novel, the newly released "Brodmaw Bay". Each of which ordered from across the pond as soon as they were available. Needless to say I was rewarded in spades and continue to be so.

"Brodmaw Bay" works on many levels. As a moving and real story of family dynamics. An elegy for a lost and simpler time, while being a cautionary tale getting what you wish for most and being disillusioned by it, and most of all a chilling tale of supernatural horror.

His characterizations of the Greer family are spot on. Literate, gorgeously written and unlike a lot of horror fiction - fully fleshed out and relatable. When lead character James Greer's son is the victim of violence in London the family makes good on it's promise to move away to a safer, quiet and idyllic local. Through a series of incidents (I'll avoid spoilers here) they choose Brodmaw Bay. But it's Brodmaw Bay that has chosen them. This lovely seaside village is definitely not what it appears to be.

Bringing together a Britain both modern and quaint - exploring the dichotomy between the two, druid lore of the past that reaches into the future always seeking for renewal and "fresh blood" to sustain well being fueled by evil, and the ghostly apparition of a young girl looking for revenge against the people who perpetrated her murder in a horrid sacrifice nearly a century previous. The writing and pacing are flawless, there's no usual horror schlock here, a slow building sense of dread that culminates in a climax that's both as horrific and thrilling as any I've read in quite a while.

Here F.G. Cottam gathers threads from previous masters of the horror genre like Arthur Machen, Lovecraft, Tryon and M.R. James while weaving something entirely his own. If you like horror novels and you haven't read Cottam, do yourself a favor and pick one up - you won't be disappointed, he`s one of the best out there. And if you have, well then you're "locked on" already.
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on 4 February 2012
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In the end I enjoyed reading this book very much but the first few chapters were quite a chore to get through. I'd therefore urge other readers to stick at it for some thrilling fiction.

The story concerns the Greer family making the move from a gentrified area of London to an idyllic fishing village on the Cornish coast. The husband is a melancholic software programmer. The wife is a brilliant artist having an affair with some writer oaf. They have two children, a girl and a boy, the latter of which is viciously beaten up which prompts their move away from the capital. It paints a thoroughly depressing picture of modern London, possibly researched from the pages of the Daily Mail. We discover however the old ways of the countryside are not necessarily any better.

As the story wears on subtle supernatural elements come to the fore, building gradually to the horrendous conclusion of the book. Although I didn't particularly like any of the leading characters the excitement towards the end had me quickly turning the pages to discover their plight.

The gradual building of layers of the story, each more sinister than the last is superbly done. The joy the family feel on their arrival and little shadows of doubt here and there suggest the horrors to come. It's a shame the beginning didn't do much for me, I hope it doesn't put other readers off finishing. The passages on history and landscape also didn't do much for me, things I usually enjoy in fiction. Somehow they just weren't integrated into the story well enough. And the blurb mentions "The Wicker Man" - there are many parallels to that story, though with much more emphasis on the supernatural. The Wicker Man was set on a small island - it's hard to believe these events could take place in mainland Britain.

These gripes aside, this is an exciting and unsettling story.
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on 24 March 2012
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After their son is beaten up on his way to school, the Greer family decide that it is now the right time to move out of London and go to somewhere idyllic beside the sea, something that they've talked about for years but never done. James (the father) finds a children's book in the hospital as he is standing vigil at his son's bedside. The book has lovely illustrations of Broadmaw Bay, illustrations very reminiscent of his wife Lily's work, but she insists she's never been to the place. James decides that Broadmaw Bay is where they should relocate too.

For a book called Broadmaw Bay, it was almost half-way through the book befre we got to see the place. James goes there first to see if would be a suitable place for his family, which I found rather strange. Shouldn't all of them have some hand in the decision rather than just him? The locals seemed warm and friendly and up for having some new blood in the village and yes, they would be able to buy a house there.

Most of the first half of the book seemed to dwell far too much on the Greers' disenchantment with London, which to me slowed the plot down considerably. A few chapters in we also discover that Lily was having an affair, which seemed to come out of nowhere and added nothing at all to the story. Why do very few books seem to have any happily married couples in them? I'm fed up reading about affairs and that soured the rest of the book for me. If I wanted a soap opera, I'd watch Eastenders (which I don't.) Why couldn't it have been a happily married couple coping with their son's trauma? Why bring an affair into it at all?

This book had interesting characters, but the writing seemed very old-fashioned and it seemed to plod along with not very much happening for quite some time. I was expecting more pace and more menace from a book billed as horror. I found it a bit predicable, but not a bad story in its way.
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