The International Bestseller
For Thom Kindred, life is nothing spectacular. A stroke victim, Thom finds himself partially incapacitated and battling daily to regain control of his life. Moved by haunting dreams of his youth, he travels back to the wooded land where he grew up to recuperate. Surrounded by the comforts of Castle Bracken, Thom plans to relive old, forgotten...more
I was under the impression that James Herbert was a horror author, that ...more
Once is an adult fairy-tale fantasy with bizarre sexual scenarios, a nostalgic touch, and gothic feel. There’s a whole bunch going into this one. The front of the book has stunning artwork for several pages too, and the author clearly had fun breaking up the classic “Once upon a time” line between pages, instead starting chapter one with “death.” This is one of those books where you get the bigger impact reading the beginning in book form rather than electronic.
The length is drawn out considerin ...more
Once declared itself to be a fairy story, of sorts. I don’t know how it came to be on my ...more
I don't often get the opportunity to review a book which I really didn't like. At least not since college and assigned reading lists. I'm not beholden to others to do my reviews so I generally try to pick books which I think I'll like and I can stop reading if I don't like it. Mostly though I do finish books once I start them and even on books that star off rocky I usually find something redeeming in their pages.
And then we have "Once..." by James Herbert. I think it's usual ...more
The story initially drew me in and had me q ...more
Firstly, this isn't actually a horror story. This in itself was not the problem as Mr. Herbert has previously turned his hand from the horror genre, with the excellent Fluke being a prime example of this.
The book is actually a fairy tale for the modern age. Following his recovery from a serious stroke, the irritatingly named Thom Kindred returns to his ancestral home within the grounds of ...more
I actually sold my copy of this book a few years back as I could never see myself rereading it... It wasn't a bad take on the "adult fairy story", it's just that a few sex scenes seemed to be pointlessly added to it. As the first book I'd ever read of Herbert's, it didn't endear me to reading any more. OK, but far too ridiculous at points.
I've read Herbert before and think he could have done better with this novel. It started out pretty good and I was settled in for a great page-turner, but soon became distracted by all the sex scenes(albeit well-written). (view spoiler)[And what's with the prepubescent fairy sex. His description of this fairy is that of a 13 year old girl with no pubic hair, small breasts, and slight figure ...more
First of all, there's far too much fluff involved. I found myself skimming pages of it in attempts to find my way back to the plot. Second, the ending was a bit horrendous if you think about it. Amusingly enough, it can be summarized as 'And then the villain defeats themself, the ...more
The narrative sets up quite a spooky feeling about the setting and also the both houses. The Characters of Hugo Bleeth and Nell Quick are not who they seem and then we find out that the forest is populated by a whole host of incredible mythic ...more
There was, however, an interesting overview of the Lloyds of London insurance scandal of the 1980s on pp. 134-6. This is rather topical given the current global financial problems caused by (among other things) the collapse of the s ...more
The story follows Thom Kindred, a 27-year-old man who has suffered a stroke which has left him with a weakness down his left side. After being discharged from hospital, he returns to his childhood home deep in the Shropshire countryside to convalesce. The cottage in the woods, part of the estate belonging to his bes ...more
It was boring half of the way through, and at the point when the boringness ended, it quickly turned awkwardly explicit. I don’t mind explicit scenes in a book, but these were just odd! (view spoiler)[ Feary sex freaks, lesb ...more
James Herbert creates likeable characters and intriguing suspense with relaistic and believable fantasy. I do, however, think that he plugs in the gaps with non-stop sex scenes - Nell and Thom twiceish, Nell and the other guy, Nell and Katie, Thom and Jennet twice. Sex does play a large part of the plot especially in regards to Nell and Thom, as she is trying to seduce him for other means.
The ending is where James ...more
The last few James Herbert books I read were really good. Thoughtful, interesting, atmospheric and pacey. This one however seems to have gotten away from him a little.
On consideration 3 may be one too many stars. The problem is the plot is ever so slightly thin and the sex scenes are jarringly out of place within the story. They serve no purpose other than to allow the cover of the copy I read to assert that it was a dark erotic fantasy.
When I was a young teenager the earl ...more
There is no middle ground it seems.
Sadly, Once... falls into the latter camp.
Where Rats, say, or '48 grip you from the off, Herbert spends too long here setting the scene - while failing simultaneously to actually create a lead character of any depth.
He's had a stroke, and an unhappy childhood, but that's all we know of him. He's barely two-di ...more
Going in, I sort of expected a horror story, because that is the genre for which Mr. Herbert is so well-known. Instead, I found a very realistic and believable contemporary fairy tale, myth and legend come to vibrant life in the English countryside. Thom Kindred, product of a single mother, was raised till age ten in the cottage called “Little Bracken,” on the estate of Sir Russell Bleeth, whose son was tutored by Thom’s mother. She died when Thom was ten, a ...more
I give it 3 stars in the end, all the while I was reading
I was sure it would bust loose into 4 or 5 territory at any moment.
Overall: entertaining? yes, worth reading yes
Thom Kindred is a character that you immediately connect with. Which is relatively surprising, as even his so-called normal life is fantastical to someone like me. After having a collision-caused stroke, he returns to his childhood home on the estate of Castle Bracken for rest and recuperation. His patron still lives in the castle with h ...more
He was one of our greatest popular novelists, whose books are sold in thirty-three other languages, including Russian and Chinese. Widely imitated and hugely influential, his 19 novels have sold more than 42 million ...more