Paul Doody's Reviews > Never the Bride

Never the Bride by Paul Magrs
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M 50x66
's review
Aug 16, 2010

really liked it

This is the first in the on-going Brenda series, and introduces us to the central character, a woman of mysterious provenance with hands of different shapes and feet of different sizes. After a lifetime of wandering, she has finally decided to settle down and open a Bed & Breakfast in Whitby. Next door, her best friend Effie has a second hand shop stocking everything from lamps to recondite tomes of ancient lore. As we soon discover, all is not well in Whitby. For one thing, the sinister and smarmy Mr Danby has just opened The Deadly Boutique where women can have the years quite literally taken away. Then there’s Brenda’s guests, the distinctly odd Green family, and the private eye on their trail. And is Mrs Claus, the large lady who runs the Christmas Hotel, really as vicious as she seems? While investigating these and other mysteries, Brenda and Effie will encounter sinister elves, frozen corpses, and ancient keepers of forbidden lore, and will even have to take part in a cable TV ghost-hunting show, before the dénouement at the celebrated ruined Abbey.

The book is more a collection of long short stories, five in all, rather than a novel, although all the strands come together very nicely at the end. Brenda is an interesting character, if not an entirely original creation. The story whips along at a good pace, raising questions about the characters and the plot while simultaneously dropping in clues along the way. The suspense is cleverly maintained, and while it is true that there are some clichés, others are neatly avoided. Whitby is an obvious place in which to set sinister tales and, if the author is not entirely successful in bringing the place to life, he does succeed in bringing some local colour and enough detail for the reader’s imagination to do the rest. Whilst it’s not entirely clear what age-range the book is meant for, I think there is enough here to entertain readers of any age. This is the first book in a series, with the fifth due shortly, and I aim to be along for the ride.

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