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The Magic Cottage - James Herbert

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      03.02.2012 15:08
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      A less than interesting read.

      James Herbert is a horror writer and while he is very well known and popular I don't think I have enjoyed many of his books. He started out by writing quite physically frightening books - what can be any scarier than oversize man eating rats and chemical weapons? When I picked up "The Magic Cottage" I began to think that I was going to be reading a fairy story as it is about a cottage in the heart of a forest. It seems that the lovely cottage is not a place full of love and nice things but that it has a dark side.


      It is full of weird people and even more weird creatures. Then there are the bats and these really seem to play a major part in the horror although there is not the feeling of horror as there is in some of the other books he has written.


      Rather than concentrate on physical horror and something that you can see and feel around you this is also fantasy based and as such I think that there will be a lot of science fiction fans who like this as much as horror fans will. It is not a blood and guts horror story but will keep you interested.


      The couple in the story are looking for an ideal place to live and get away from the rat race. The cottage seems to play tricks with Midge and Mick lives as at first they find such success and highs and then it changes and the there are some unpleasant occurancea that they had to live through. When things start to go wrong the horror such as it is begins.


      James Herbert claims that this is one of his favourite books that he has written but I really don't share that opinion. It was hard to read and hard to believe. Before I bought this I read a number of reviews where people talked about how scared they had been reading it and I can't understand how they could be affected that way.


      There are a couple of occasions when there is a little bit of horror and I thought that this was the start of the interesting bit, but it never lived up to its potential. It is not a book I would read again and not one that I would recommend. It promises so much at stages but does not live up to that promise.



      Details of the book.


      Paperback: 400 pages

      Publisher: Pan Books; New Edition 23 April 1999

      Language English

      ISBN-10: 033037625X

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        28.09.2011 14:54
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        An outstanding supernatural thriller. Highly recommended!

        WHY I CHOSE THIS BOOK

        My partner's mum often recommends books for me to read, and this was one of the ones on an ever growing pile from her! I love fantasy / supernatural / thriller type books and don't often read 'chic lit' type books. I was assured that James Herbert's 'The Magic Cottage' would suit me down to a tee! I'm so glad I read this. I've now starting working my way through all his other novels too!

        PRICE / AVAILABILITY / PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

        "A cottage was found in the heart of the forest. It was charming maybe, a little run-down, but so peaceful - a magical haven for creativity and love. But the cottage had an alternative side - the bad magic. What happened there was horrendous beyond belief. " - AMAZON.CO.UK

        While I borrowed this book, I have since managed to pick up a few James Herbert books from charity shops. Charity shops, jumble sales and boot sales are all great places to buy second hand books, but if not there is always Amazon (where this one is available new from £1.35 or used from 1p!).

        ABOUT

        The story begins with a young couple, Midge (an artist / illustrator of children's books) and Mike (a musician / song writer). Fed up with life in London, Midge encourages Mike into the idea of living in the country. Eventually they find a little cottage for sale. The cottage of an eldery widow who had recently passed away.

        It is in a remote location, a reasonable drive away from the main village, surrounded by woodland and wildlife. The sale of the cottage had some unusual conditions tied to it. The solicitor needed to meet the couple first to decide whether they would be 'suitable' residents, as per the requirements of the late owner's Will.

        A few odd things start to happen soon after they move in, but nothing too alarming. They also meet a few of the village residents, as well as a group of young people who live in a big manor house the other side of the woods. These people belong to a group called the synergists, and there is speculation around whether this 'group' is a religion, way of life, or even a cult.

        MY THOUGHTS

        Even though the beginning was very 'normal' (in the sense of regular people, buying a cottage, moving from the city to the countryside), I was still drawn in straight away. This could be put down to James Herbert's excellent style of writing. He clearly hasn't been named Britain's Number 1 Writer of Chiller Fiction for no reason!

        Straight away, the lead characters come across as interesting, likeable people a reader can relate to. All too often, I've given up with a book early on because I don't like the characters!
        Midge, the dreamer, and Mike, the voice of reason, are portrayed very realistically in their build up to buying the cottage and moving there. The leading chapters seem all too real and 'every day', giving the reader a false sense of security that nothing bad, and certainly nothing supernatural could happen here!

        The mysterious goings on and little hints here and there, do start shining through early. This guarentees to keep the reader turning the pages! I read this a lot of the train to work and didn't want to stop reading when I got to my stop!

        The twists and turns don't seem overly dramatic, which is quite clever really. It's all subtle enough to make you think "well maybe this really could happen in real life?". The character's reactions are spot on too.

        There were no parts in this novel that made me lose my attention, no chapters that I wanted to skim through so I could get to the end quicker. I enjoyed this book from start to finish, even the ending which was a little too far fetched for me!

        So yes, the beginning is the perfect lead up to the main story, where the unusual goings on start to happen. However, as much as I enjoyed the ending, I would have liked a little more of a follow up after.

        The big climax at the end was described in amazingly vivid detail. All the description and the portrayal of the characters worked together to create a clear image in your mind and you could picture exactly what was taking place. Not entirely scary as such, since I always find the more suble goings on scariest, but still very exciting and magical! On the whole I think this fantastically detailed climax may have gone on for a few more pages than necessary, where instead, it could have drawn to a close. In which case, maybe some more detail could be added after the climax. Instead, the story was quickly wrapped up and closed.

        OVER ALL

        I can't fault this book, and if you enjoy supernatural thriller type reads I think you'll definitely enjoy The Magic Cottage, or any of James Herbert's novels!

        I thought about knocking a star off for the quick ending, but actually, I think this just goes to show how enjoyable the story really was! I simply didn't want it to end, and was cross that it did!

        A 5 out of 5 rating for a book that held my attention from start to finish!

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          19.06.2009 19:22
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          One to leave on the bookshelf

          I am an absolute follower of James Herbert and all his work, I think I own nearly ever book he has written, so of course I have to read them all. I have to say though I am not a fan of this particular book.

          It starts well, telling you all about the 2 main characters, Mike and Midge (her real name is Margaret). They both live in the 'big city' but want a slower paced life in the countryside to help with their work. Mike is a musician and Midge is an artist.
          After a lot of searching they finally agree on a beautiful, yet rundown cottage in the middle of nowhere. On first viewings of the cottage Mike finds an awful lot wrong with it and gets the builders in, but they can't find as much wrong with the place as anticipated, which is good I guess.

          Anyway, once moved in we get to meet some new characters, there is Midge's agent and Mike's old drug taking friend from way back. We also get to meet a few animals that like to visit the 'magic' cottage, there are two main characters here also, a little bird and a little squirrel (Rumbo), there are various other animals who also like to visit.
          As the story proceeds we learn more about Mike and Midge's relationship and how their talents flourish while living in the cottage, paintings coming to life, music flowing beautifully, etc. There is however something in the attic, but I will not spoil this for you....just what could it be.....Mike explores....

          We then get to meet the Synergists (a cult) and their leader, the other main character, Mycroft. He is a mysterious figure and it seems he might have strange powers, which you will learn of as you read on. Mycroft has a special interest with Midge, not so with Mike. Mike doesn't like exploring his Psyche and is very cynical, while Midge is into it in a big way, but this is only because of her past and the feelings she has laid hidden for years, things that happened in her childhood.....
          Anyway, strange things happen, strange people visit and things seem to get darker as the story goes on and what just do the strange cult from the big grey and daunting mansion want with Midge? What happened to Midge when she was younger? What happens to Rumbo? Who exactally is the mysterious Mycroft? What happens to Mike and Midge? A lot of questions that get answered as you read......

          I do have to say you can put the book down once you start reading it, due to the lack of the gore and excitement, but you just want to keep reading to see if anything truly exciting is going to happen......more intreigue than dramatics I would say!
          Overall I think this book is not as good as Herbert's previous work and the only reason I kept reading is because I was waiting for a 'big' finish so to speak. This is a very very slow paced book, maybe I only think this because I love the fear and gore of most of Herbert's other books. If you like a nice, not so scarey, slowpaced read, then this is the book for you. It is interesting in parts, but for the most I could only read a few chapters at a time so it took me a long time to finish.

          Could be scarey I guess, that is if you live in a cottage in the middle of nowhere on your own.....just read on and discover the secrets of Granmarye Cottage......



          (Also on ciao under same name)

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          09.02.2008 19:33
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          Very well written, well thought out plot, you will be addicted!

          This is the first book I had ever read of James Herbert - after reading rave reviews about his work and people comparing him to King - I thought id give him a shot.

          This book "The Magic Cottage" - your drawn into the perfect world; where there is a perfect little cottage, and perfect little people....then comes the dark side. There are lots of parts in this book where you will get the chills.

          The characters are very well drawn up which makes this book even more addictive. Cover to cover I read it in 2 days.

          So the story - not giving too much away its about two characters Midge and Mike move into a cottage; Gramarye, in the countryside. They think this is the perfect purchase, but then things start to darken as they learn the previous owner used to be a healer.

          Overall I'd describe this as being a cottage fairy take meets horror story. This book will be appropriate for kids and adults - as there is not a lot or gore, but more of the horror and chilling aspect which some kids don't mind these days.

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            14.08.2005 22:45
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            Fantastic book with an excellent plot.

            Hi. Hot on the heels of my last James Herbert review on Moon I thought I would do one on my second favourite James Herbert novel – The Magic Cottage. This is my second favourite because the story is just so excellent and the cottage reminds me of my own. I will explain why a bit later.

            -----

            What is the book about?

            Reading from the back of eth book;
            We thought we’d found our haven, a cottage deep in the heart of the forest. Charming, maybe a little run-down, but so peaceful. That was the first part of the magic. Midge’s painting and my music soared to new heights of creativity. That was another part of the magic. Our love for each other – well, that became the supreme magic. But the cottage had an alternative side. The bad magic.
            What happened to us there was horrendous beyond belief. The healings, the crazy sect who wanted our home for themselves, the hideous creatures that crawled from the nether regions, and the bats – oh god, the bats! Even now those terrible things seem impossible to me. Yet they happened…..

            -----

            What is the book like?

            This book is fantastic and all I had to do was to read the back of the book and I was hooked already. I know that sounds mad but just by reading the back are you not intrigued to read it and find out what happens. This book is obviously another horror and I think actually a bit creepier than Moon and many of his other novels. The reason that this book is so great is the way that Herbert describes the cottage and surroundings and how wonderful it sounds.

            ‘The grounds sun-dazzled with colours, while beyond and around was the all-encompassing forest. You might say it was a storybook scene…’

            You actually create an image in your mind on what you believe the cottage to look like and when the bad magic rears its ugly head you are so caught up in the book you cannot believe what is happening.

            -----

            Who are the characters?

            Mike and Midge – The married couple who are desparate to find a new home and when they stumble upon Gramarye aka the magic cottage.

            Rumbo – The resident squirrel.

            Mycroft – Member of the ‘crazy sect’ who holds a deadly secret.

            Kinsella – Member of the ‘crazy sect’.

            -----

            My Verdict.

            What can I say apart from that I love this book. Every detail down to the characters, the cottage, the area and the cult members is superbly written giving you such images that you can really get into the book and imagine what is happening so well that it is like watching a film at the same time. Also before the bad magic rears its ugly head you want to join them and live at the cottage. The other thing I love is Rumbo the squirrel. Now I know you may have thought I was mad putting him in the character list but he really stands out and you begin to wish you had a squirrel as a friend that you could name.

            ‘‘He just looks like a Rumbo, doesn’t he? More like a Rumbo than a Rambo anyway.’
            The squirrel jerked his head convulsively, tiny shoulders juddering, it’s chattering like laughter. Which Midge found hysterically funny’.

            The crazy sect who want the house are actually very creepy and you would not like to live by these guys believe me. You can actually feel the uncomfortable ness that Midge and Mike must be feeling knowing that somebody wants their dream home and you can imagine just what it would be like.

            The bad magic is that bad that I actually cringed when I was reading the book and I can honestly say that this book has you on the edge of your seat or bed or wherever you choose to read it. When I was reading this I could not put it down even one day taking it into the bath to read and staying in there for 2 hours as I had to know what happened.

            Now you may remember at the start that I said it reminded me of my cottage. Well we have a cottage in Wales and it is in a little remote place deep down in the hills surrounded by countryside. The other thing is that like in the magic cottage we also have some resident bats. I know it sounds creepy but we are used to it now and quite like it. We stand outside our cottage and watch them all fly out from in our roof as it is just getting dark.

            This book I would recommend to fans of James Herbert of course but I also recommend it to people who have never read one of his novels before. This is because it is an enjoyable read and the storyline is pretty straightforward. Also it is one of his best novels to understand thoroughly and also it has characters that are so nice that you really wish the best for them.

            You can buy this book for £5.99 in all good book shops. It was first published in 1986 and the paperback has 394 pages.

            Thank you for reading.

            xxx

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              06.12.2001 21:23
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              If you were the type of person who as a child read Enid Blyton, or loved fairy stories and passionately believed there were fairies living at the bottom of your garden, then this one is for you. Mike and Midge move into a little run down cottage called Gramarye, in the country to escape the rat race. This cottage however, has a personality of its own, and a few ghosts lurking in the shadows. This is a cottage with an evil side, with spirits which create chaos. This book is a masterpiece, briming with evocative language, and James Herberts usual visual prose. Read it with an open mind, and James Herbert will transport you there.

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                18.12.2000 03:35
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                This one sets off at a slow pace and then stays that way. There is one or two intriguing bits to it which is probably the reason why, despite its lack of a real scare factor it does keep you engrossed till the end. This though isn’t because the story is that exciting or dramatic its simply because once you’ve started you just want to know what is actually going on and how does it end. The story itself centres around a cottage in the countryside and 2 main characters, who, after looking for a retreat from the big city life chance upon what they believe to be their dream home. At first glance and in fact for the first few weeks everything is indeed idyllic with only the occasional “unusual” incident to worry about. These doubts mean nothing at the time but later when the real story starts they come to realise their significance. James Herbert does do a good job (as is always the case) of introducing and thereafter building up the characters so that you feel as if you know them personally. In this case however I think he probably goes just a little bit over the top with his picture of the couple involved, it doesn’t distract from the story though merely frustrates it a bit. Although the majority of the book involves the couple he does introduce a few other characters such as a rather formidable agent (Midge is a painter) and a drug taking friend of the couple. These 2 do play a small part in the outcome of the book but it the leader of a religious cult, Mycroft, that lives in a large mansion nearby who perhaps is the other central character. As I said earlier though Herbert maybe concentrates too much on the young couple whereas a little bit more of Mycroft might have made it a bit more gripping. All in all a little bit disappointing compared to Herbert’s other work but still worth a read despite this. Oh yes, did I mention the friendly squirrel and what happened to it at the end ??? Well
                , I wont because that was probably the best bit of the book !!

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                17.09.2000 04:47
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                Do you believe in magic? I mean real magic with a capital M. I dont mean rabbit out of a hat stuff, but enchantments, Earth magic, healing of limbs that heal overnight and so forth. No? Maybe? Possibly Do you remember the first time you brought your own house? Can you remember what drew you to the house? Was it the number? The Garden? Or was just a gut feeling about the place? Did you fall in love with the atmosphere of the house? Or was it all pre destined? And what as all this got to do with the Magic Cottage by James Herbert? Midge and Mike lived in London and were wanting to move either to the outskirts of London or into the countryside. Midge was a well known child's illustrator and Mike was a well paid backing musician. They had been looking for a while for houses till one day one leapt out at midge in the national paper. Granmary, the quaint, charming cottage stood out like a fire in the paper, so much so that they had to so and see it. The cottage was set in a small forest, not far from a small village in the New Forest. This fairy tale cottage had characteristics of its own but was very, very unusual. It was a round house. The front facing of the house was square but from one side to the back was round. Built on three levels had several bedrooms, bathrooms, a lovely great big kitchen and the round room. As Midge and Mike walked in they saw the cottage in very different light from each other. Mike saw the faults within the cottage, mould, damp, the cottage seemed to be falling apart. Midge saw the cottage in a very different way. She could feel something, and although the cottage seemed like an empty shell, she knew that they wanted it. After seeing all the work needing to be done to the cottage, they both tried to knock the price down but the estate agent wouldnt have it. Mike and Midge left in low spirits, they were four thousand pounds short. How were they gonna get that cottage? The answer was to come in a few pho
                ne calls the following morning. Midge got a great deal for her next illustrations and Mike had to do a recording for Phil Collins, both paid and amounting to the money that they were short. Coincidence? Maybe? Or was it that someone wanted them to have GranMary ? A few weeks later and after an interview with the past owners solicitor, they found out a little bit more about Granmary. Flora, who owned the cottage was something magical. She was a widow but was loved by all in the village. It seemed that she was something of a healer. Tending sick animals, healing people with broken bones or making the remedies to take. All the village knew of Flora but didn't mock her, taunt her but respected her. Apparently Flora left strict instructions in her will that the cottage was only to be sold to certain people and not to anyone who didn't fit the description that she had left. Mike and Midge fitted that description perfectly, even down to the jobs that they did. Another coincidence? After moving few weeks later, Mike was dumfounded when the builders who were going to do the work in the cottage for them told him that the faults that he has described were no way as bad. No damp, no mould and even the big hairline crack that ran from the kitchen to the top bedroom had narrowed, seemingly to heal itself. Even the empty feeling of the cottage has gone, the flowers in the garden had lost their dull colour. The whole cottage had come to life. It almost seemed that Granmary was welcoming them home. Wanting them to stay, Someone wanted them to stay. For two weeks both Mike and Midge experienced what seemed like magic. They began to move closer to each other. Both of them experienced heighten pleasures in the simplest acts. When Mike played his music, its was the sweetest music either of them had even heard. Midges illustrations became alive, with colour, with love and with magic. Even their love making was beyond anything they had ever experie
                nced. They even witnessed animals coming o the house, tamed and feeding them. A bird who seemly had a broken wing, stayed in the cottage one night and was fliting and flying about the following morning. Who was responsible? But even good magic has a bad side and soon its starts to peek through the cracks. Especially when a group called the Synigists get wind that Mike and Midge have Granmary. The Synigists are a group of people also believe in faith, healing and the afterlife. But are they going to use magic for good or bad? And what do they want with Granmary? I have read and re-read this book several times. I even have this book on audio tape and after listening to it while I was ironing inspired me to rewrite this opinion slightly. Ive always believed that some things in our lives are pre-destined, its how we get there, the roads we take, and who we meet. This book really gets to that point. I have experienced this in my own life quite a few times. One house we had a look at down in Kent we stumbled on by mistake. I had picked up quite a few houses at the estate agents. This particular house was at the bottom of the pile and after having a look at it, liked it but Tim didn't. It was a 3 storey town house, 4 bedrooms with a small garden. Tim wanted another house but for some strange reason every time we looked at the pile of houses this one I liked was always on top. Now, if you choose to believe me, I didn't move that house to the top of that pile. Every house that Tim like and we phoned up about was already taken, including this one. We were told that someone had offered the full asking price and as we offered two thousand lower, we were second in line. I was devested and for three weeks I was in a right mood. Then, after a phone call, we were told that the other buyers were having problems getting a mortgage and if we could guarantee that we could sort ours out and move in 3 weeks, it was ours. Needless to say w
                e got the house. I know it could of just been coincidence but I felt that house was our home. It was the feeling of the house when I walked in, warmth,cosiness and not cold and uninviting. Its such an individual feeling and its that feeling that what makes a house ..your home.Midge and Mike were meant to be at Granmary . The house was indeed magical and needed someone to protect the cottage. Midge had even seen the cottage years before and painted it. This book isn't a horror in a true sense. Its about the goodness and evil that's ever present in life and death. The all important balance of nature, and how some people will do anything, anything at all to channel and feed off of the natural goodness and turn it into something powerfully bad. The location does actually exist as do many of the places that James Herbert bases his books on. James Herbert has even released a book called " Dark Places" which is a non fiction illustrated book showing where and how he gets his inspiration for his books. Most are the haunted sites of Brtian and has background on who nd what are there. This, I think is brilliant as it just goes to show that even the most prestigious writers need inspiration and its not just snatched out of thin air. The Magic Cottage is one of the most intriguing books by James Herbert in my opinion. I am an avid horror reader but this makes a very pleasant change to his usual style of outright horror. James Herbert's style of writing is exquisite. He describes everything is such incredible detail you can imagine yourself there, in Granmary. The whole of Granmary was described from top to bottom, outside and in, good and bad. When reading and especially while I was listening to the story on audio cassette, I could see the flowers, the round room, the kitchen. I could visualise the colours and light in that cottage. I could smell the flowers, death and decay. This book and the way everything is described is
                such fine detail, you can picture it. I think its this that captivates me in James Herbert's books. Its not just Granmary he describes well, its all the way through every one of his books. Everything that happens, you can see in your minds eye and for any author to do that is incredible. If you enjoy a good read, with a twist but not necessarily a horror story then this one is a good one to start with. Once you've read it you can ask yourself, Do I believe in magic? I think we all do, whether its magic that's amusing, tricks or illusions or that real earth magic

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              • Product Details

                A picturesque cottage in the heart of a forest has a dark side.