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Once: by James Herbert

December 31, 2007
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I’m on a little bit of a tear, I guess. I got this book yesterday and finished it today. I love doing that. No chores for me! Instead, six solid hours on the couch! Yeah!

Anyway. So, I’ve read one other book by James Herbert, The Magic Cottage, and I liked that book well enough although it didn’t really seem like a ‘horror’ novel to me. It was a nice tale, with some spooky bits, and a big supposed-to-be-scary scene towards the end. It was entertaining and I loved his descriptions of the little magic cottage. So I thought I would give him another go.

So, I liked this book pretty well (well enough to finish it off in two days), although it could have been better. It was supposed to be a ‘dark fairy tale for adults’ and I suppose it lived up to that; although it could have been darker, and a little less (lightweight) fairy-tale. Again there was a lovely little cottage in the middle of the woods (this guy does have a lock on my fantasy cottage), again there were charming woodland creatures (including one character, Rumbo, who was a squirrel in Magic Cottage, and a fox in this book — turns out he’s been reincarnated, of course). There were lots and lots of descriptions of the faery-folk (kind of too long on the descriptions). But it painted a good picture in my head, and I’m a sucker for a good atmospheric novel.

The dark parts (real evil being conjured by a vain, arrogant wanna-be witch) were fairly dark, but the smaller spookier bits were more effective, with one exception (a midnight run-in with a succubus, which was genuinely disturbing). The big finale fright scene was kind of flat, although interesting. The bad characters got theirs, in the end. And since it is a fairy tale, there is a (bittersweet) happy ending.

I don’t know. I’m not an expert on sci-fi/fantasy or horror books. I like Stephen King (especially ‘Salem’s Lot, Christine, IT, and a few others. Cujo was just too scary for me.), but I haven’t really read any other horror authors (except randomly). I’m not into gore at all, but I do like some good spookiness or creepiness. I like to shiver and need to draw the covers up tighter. I don’t want to be genuinely scared. I can’t take most standard fantasy novels — I don’t like straight-up fantasy, I guess (with the notable exception of The Lord Of The Rings). I don’t really know what I like, exactly — except for when I find it. Then I’m like, I love this!! It’s hard to actually find those books, however. I like a good ghost story. I like some fairies here and there. But mostly, I like a good, well-crafted story.

So far, I don’t love James Herbert, but I like him. He has a couple other books I want to read: The Fog, The Others, and Haunted. But I’m really excited about my next book: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a few years — it’s always on the ‘staff favorites’ shelves at bookstores, and when I saw it on the shelf at the library, I actually said out loud, “Yes!!”

This book is a little bigger (over 800 pages) so I might not be able to devour it in two days. But you never know…

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