Christopher's Reviews > Never the Bride

Never the Bride by Paul Magrs
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Sep 12, 10

bookshelves: paul-magrs, favourites, science-fiction, science-fantasy, brenda-and-effie
Read in July, 2010, read count: 2

I started re-reading Paul Magrs' Brenda and Effie series, just because I think the series is perhaps the most enchanting, magical series of books I have ever read. They capture an action and intrigue that are unparalleled in much more serious books, with a wonderfully complex emotional bond that you just don't manage to evoke so easily in literature. All while wrapped in a silly, light, fluffy aura of mystery, science fiction, fantasy, irony, and satire.

Brenda, as narrator of the book, has a unique voice that tells you what you need to know without giving away everything, yet still fulfilling enough so you can understand. I think this is where Paul Magrs exceeds, not just in crafting a fun, interesting, and unique setting, story, and characters, but in giving us Brenda's voice, and her's only. Because she is different from a normal human-- such as Effie-- and she says and notices things you wouldn't expect; and there are a lot of years of experience behind her that you can feel long before she begins hinting at it.

The setting is in Whitby, North Yorkshire (What is that I hear you say? Dracula?), and the whole town is one giant fairground of outrageous and silly people. You have Mrs. Claus, the mysterious, conniving proprietor of the fancy Christmas Hotel who is drugging her elves into working for her; Shiela Manchu, the proprietor of the skanky Miramar Hotel; there is Jessie, the elegant elf at the Christmas Hotel, later, not so much; there is Robert, Jessie's nephew, a sympathetic ear; and then there is Effie.

Wonderful, fallible, bitter, judgemental Effie. Descended from a line of dusty, spinster witches, in a dusty old house filled with unread and untouched-for-centuries tomes of all kinds, who would much rather gossip, eavesdrop, and pass judgement than take up her forbearer's mantel. With a hint of unspoken emotional passion that has isolated her from her aunts.

And you have this absolutely zaney (and wonderful) inter-textual mythology actually entwined into the novel-- various horror and mystery movies, the Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula; but also other Paul Magrs creations such as MIAOW.

There is definitely something magical about this book, that I just did not want to ever put it down. I managed to on occasion, but in the end, I read the last half of the book in one sitting because I was amused, excited, and all around enchanted by how safe and daring (a paradox that I very rarely come across) the book was. And how well it all came together, carefully building up in a way I haven't personally seen in a while. I quite enjoy how the 'sub-plots' are not toned down for the story arc.

And in that way, I think, Paul Magrs manages to captivate a very unique television structure within the novel format. Not just in the style of four short-stories, but his dialogue which flows so well off the page and is so authentic and idiosyncratic to his characters, that you really can see the story play out in real-time in your mind (at least, I can.)

On the other hand, the following book, Something Borrowed, feels much more like a movie than a TV monster-of-the-week and mytharc serial.

10/10, definitely. Easily 15, if I could.
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