Never The Bride by Paul Magrs

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Rating 8.5/10
I really enjoyed this quite unusual gothic horror alternative fantasy story.

Brenda has had a long and eventful life, and she has come to Whitby to run a B&B and enjoy some peace and quiet. She and her best friend Effie like nothing better than going out for tea and keeping their eyes open for mysterious goings on in town. And what with satanic beauty salons, roving psychic investigators and the frankly terrifying owner of the Christmas Hotel there's plenty to watch. But the oddest thing in Whitby may well be Brenda herself. With her terrible scars, her strange lack of a surname and the fact that she takes two different shoe sizes, Brenda should know that people as, well, unique as she is just aren't destined for a quiet life.

Paul Magrs’ Never The Bride – the first of his Brenda and Effie series of alternative fantasy stories – is set in the small northern English fishing village of Whitby, most famous of course for being the setting of Dracula.

If you know Whitby and the ruined abbey looming above it on the cliffs I think you will find this novel particular enjoyable, but even if you’ve never been anywhere near it the abundance of strange goings-on contrasted against the pie, peas and bingo night is particularly enjoyable. Brenda, outwardly a proper-looking hostess at a B&B, and her best friend Effie are settling into the low season and enjoying keeping an eye out for anything mysterious when far more than they bargained for lands on their doorstep. First of all a new beauty parlour opens up down one of the backstreets that delivers miraculous results, then a strange family come to town who keep more under wraps than you might think, and of course there’s the Christmas Hotel – forever gilded in tinsel and ruled by the terrifying Mrs Claus.

I really enjoyed this quite unusual Gothic horror alternative fantasy story set in such unassuming surroundings, particularly when the main character, Brenda, is a story in herself. If you want to try something a bit different, give this a go.

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