Newest Review: ... is essentially a grown up 'faery' story, yep that is faery not fairy as this is not a story which paints all mythical (or are they??!... more
James Herbert, but not at his best
Once - James Herbert
Member Name: pencoedcharlie
Once - James Herbert
Disadvantages: Too long,and too ambitious
This is a long read, the hardback version consisting of 470 pages,priced at £16.99.
The book starts off in quite an interesting manner, 27 year old Thom Kindred is experiencing a stroke,we move on quickly to find him returning to his childhood home, for a lengthy period of convalescence. Thoms' childhood home is an ancient cottage set within woodland, in the grounds of a Stately Home, Castle Bracken. Thom is the only child of Bethan, a single mother who commited suicide when Thom was 10. His boyhood friend Hugo still lives at Castle Bracken, as does Hugos father, Sir Russell Bleeth, now seriously ill and bedridden,and their creepy manservant Hartgrove. Bethan was previously a servant working at the estate.
Amazingly Thom longs to be on his own at the cottage, despite its rundown and musty character, a glimpse of something strange scuttling across the landing, a flying plate, and some strange night time visions. There is also a sinister magpie flitting around outside. Most worrying of all I should think Thom starts to see fairy figures flying around outside, and witnesses a beautiful naked girl masturbating in the woods.This scene is described in thorough detail, I could not help but visualise the author beavering away, typing up this scene, which must have taken up several hours at least, or possibly days.Thom is unable to remember witnessing any fairies as a child, but is totally convinced of his own sanity.
The ability which Thom has to see fairies (or faeries), goblins and the like is explained to him by the beautiful Jennet, who is an undine, a mermaid-like creature, who lives in the lake. Thom has a gift, posessed by only a very few humans, which means he can adapt his level of conciousness to perceive a shifting and ethereal world, which exists parallel to our own. This gift may sometimes be posessed by the very young, but becomes lost as they grow older.
This world is very much ruled by powers of good, and evil. Evil, in an extreme form threatens Thom's world. Thom experiences a terrifying night time encounter with a succibus, but I mustn't give away too much of the plot, except to say that the conflicts between good and evil lead on to some more extended, and graphic sex scenes, some of which are violent and unpleasant. These must take up a few chapters, as mentioned this is a very long book.
The climax (so to speak) of the book is an epic tussle between good and evil, worthy of Dennis Wheatley.
I hope I haven't sounded too scathing in this revue, as I am usually one of James Herbert's greatest fans. The first book of his that I read one Christmas was 'The Magic Cottage' which I found difficult to put down, some of his other books are short, but brilliant in my opinion. Even'Once' is highly readable, as James Herbert has the story tellers art, but my criticisms are that it is too long, contains too many fairytale creatures,it contains too many sub plots,and I hesitate to say this, but some of the sex seems gratuitous.
So, thumbs down I'm afraid, and a 2 star rating
Summary: Thumbs down