Something Borrowed by Paul Magrs
Published by Headline Review and Out Now in paperback
I’ve never been to Whitby, and if it’s anything like the place the Paul Magrs describes, I’m not sure whether to jump in the car or lock the doors and stay at home. There are more than a few strange goings on there.
Luckily they’ve got Brenda and Effie investigating them. The immediate thing is that Magrs doesn’t forget the events that took place in Never the Bride. Not that you need to have read the first one.Magrs does a good job of brining you up to date, and even teasing, on the events that happened. But knowing what happened in Never the Bride does add certain edge to events.
This time it starts with poison pen letters being sent to some of Whitby’s residents. Then there is Jessie the Zombie Womanzee, a problem left over from Never the Bride. And don’t mention the past that comes back to Brenda by being unlocked from her memory. Oh and then there are wickerwork gods, and professors of Icelandic History.
There is so much to love here it’s hard to know where to start. There is a very clear sense of place. This isn’t any seaside town, this is Whitby with Cod Almighty, The Christmas Hotel and Brenda’s own B&B with its luxurious bedroom to name a few places.
It’s not only the place but Magrs has managed to make the extraordinary seem natural. I was going to say normal but that would imply that its boring and it’s anything but that. It is certainly quaint and has gentle English horror, so more is left to the imagination. No need for gore and blood to shock the reader. And it’s not that kind of horror story.
Magrs does approach Lovecraftian darkness and the otherworldly danger Whitby faces though the human’s are just as dangerous as some of the other more monstrous residents.
What you end up with is a couple of old ladies who end up solving mysteries though the focus in this one is Brenda and a section in the middle involves her remembering her forgotten past, which has a bearing on current events but also puts new light on the events of Never the Bride.
It’s not perfect though as Magrs does sometimes over indulge himself and it feels that he’s not quite in control of events letting the characters lead things. This is alright for the most part but there were a couple of moments where things were dismissed and underplayed by the characters when they should have been focused on more.
But those are really small niggles. Magrs strength might not be the plotting as it is little mad but he certainly makes up with through his cast of characters and that’s what makes Something Borrowed a joy to read. I really do care about Robert the same way Brenda does and want to protect him and for him to be my friend. I can understand why Effie has this cast iron front to hide behind but most of all I want Brenda to be safe and happy even if she isn’t technically human, she’s more human than most.
I’m greatly looking forward to Conjugal Rights quickly followed by Hell’s Bells, which is released next month. Reviews soon.