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Once [Hardcover]

James Herbert
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 20 2002
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 memories.

But Thom's return has stirred an ancient evil at Castle Bracken, one cloaked in the guise of a friend. His only chance for survival lies in a world that he no longer believes in.

International bestselling author James Herbert opens the door into a place of wonder and terrible danger; where the unexpected becomes the norm, where the separation of dreams and nightmares is thin, and where "Once upon a time . . ." doesn't always lead to a happy ending.

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Product Details


Product Description

From Amazon

Horror master James Herbert serves up a blend of faerie, supernatural chills, eroticism, and identity quest in Once...--a fairy tale with a darker side.

Thom Kindred suffers a stroke and returns to his childhood home to heal. Castle Bracken seems like a pastoral paradise, but almost immediately, Thom begins to experience strange things, both beautiful and frightening. Soon, he finds himself the inexplicable target of hostile magic, even as he begins to recover his childhood ability to perceive the creatures of faerie that inhabit the land. As he struggles to heal, Thom finds himself at the center of a cataclysmic struggle between good and evil that demands all his physical and spiritual strength to survive.

Herbert's fans may find this story, with its bare-bones plot and extended descriptions of the faerie world, slower-moving and more predictable than his more energetic works Others and The Fog). Explicit sex and scenes of Herbert's trademark disturbing horror (including every arachnophobe's nightmare) make this a fairy tale strictly for adults. --Roz Genessee

From Publishers Weekly

Pastoral fantasy and graphic grue congeal immiscibly in this peculiar fairy tale from British horror laureate Herbert (Others). Set on the grounds of Castle Bracken, a verdant woodland estate with a shady history, it follows the trials of Thom Kindred, who returns there to recover from a stroke. Thom's mother worked for Sir Russell Bleeth, the estate's owner, and the grounds hold fond memories of years spent with his mum before she inexplicably abandoned him. No sooner is Thom comfy in the natural surroundings than he is subjected to seemingly unnatural experiences: displays of multicolored lights in the foliage, an encounter with an ethereal young maiden in the woods and increasingly persistent advances by a Wiccan nursemaid. In time, Thom discovers that the estate is a refuge for the faerie folk, whose blood he shares, and that he'll play a pivotal role in saving them from an occult menace that's already infiltrated Castle Bracken. Herbert does nothing original with this familiar fantasy theme of the individual who discovers his faerie heritage. Rather, he dwells at tedious length on the society of the faeriefolkis, indulging in twee descriptions of their world and endowing some with proper names that are titles of his previous books spelled backwards. Prolonged erotic interludes, spliced in to alert readers that this is a fairy tale for adults, do little to relieve the monotony. Only in the final moments, when Thom battles a series of viscerally horrific assaults, does the book show a glimmer of the vitality and drive characteristic of Herbert's best fiction.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
HE'D HAD no idea how he would feel returning to Castle Bracken after all these years. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars how the mighty have fallen April 7 2012
Format:Audio CD
Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and James Herbert, My three favourite authors now I make the stipulation of EARLY James Herbert. This book had no redeeming qualities, it has a weak story line, poorly written characters, the most pathetic erotic episodes (over long, over used, and usually unnecessary to what little story there was.) Please if you are new to James Herbert go to his earlier work and enjoy a master of the horror genre, if you are familiar with his writing, then you will probably read Once anyway. This book was so bad it's the first time I've ever reviewed a book on Amazon that I didn't get from Amazon, but I would have felt guilty knowing that people could be spending hard earned money on this when James Herbert has written so many great works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual but compelling story. April 12 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoyed this book...a fairytale that's definitely for adults. I enjoyed the dreamlike descriptions just as much as the shockingly graphic parts. An interesting story which intrigued and absorbed me.
If you enjoyed stories about forests and woodland folk as a child and now like horror...this is the book for you!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who cares what everyone thinks Feb. 18 2004
By Debs
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I really enjoy a book when I can root for the bad guy. This is one of those books. I cannot stress enough the importence of getting emotionally involved when I read a book. This book did that to me. I laughed, I cried, I did some other stuff(when you read it you will know what I mean)On reading some of the other reviews on this book and others I begin to see a certain trend by reviewers. They review the book like they were professors of literature. I review like a common reader. I loved this book becasue it took me away for awhile into another world. I loved Thoms Faery world. I loved the evil sperm guzzeling witch. the ending could have been better, but hey I'm always dissapointed when a fun ride ends.
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1.0 out of 5 stars This was bad. Nov. 30 2003
By T West
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Sometimes-not much I usually would have gave up-you just wish you had the time back you wasted reading a terrible novel. I tried,I really tried to like this novel. But it went nowhere,SLOW! What we have is Thom Kindred,after having a stroke,returns to his childhood home of castle bracken. After all kinds of weird going on,Thom starts to see faries.Then we are introduced to the faerefolkis. Now with names like rigwit and a semen stealing sucubus,we only know were this is heading. But Mr. Herbert tries to put a mystery behind it. Thom learns his father was part of the faerefolkis,Jonathan Bleeth. Jonathan was killed by an IRA bomb. Jonathan was son to Sir Russel. Extremely wealthy and now on his death bed. A wicked witch finds out that Thom is the sole aire to the fortune,so she plots with Sir Russel's bumbling son Hugo-who is not on the will-to rid Thom from the will.Throw in some faries and evil witches and you got yourself the novel Once. Of course everything works out in the end.
I really tried to like this. But after it was all said and done I wasnt to happy with myself. This is what gives fiction a bad name.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Complete and Utter Intolerable Rubbish! Oct. 8 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Of all the imbecilic,fatuous,stodgy,b-rated horror novels that I have read, James Herbert's banalistic Once... is the crowned tepid travesty of terror conquering them all. Its a 460 page, tediously detailed, overly descriptive monotonous load of poppycock crammed full of absurd chimerical fairy beings, laughable and comically ludicrous in their unoriginality, pointless digressions from the main storyline (there are entire events thrown haphazardly throughout that are irrelevant and senseless, as pertaining to the plot),foolish and endless philosophizing about a moronic and asinine metaphysical idea of the ontological state of the universe, and silly diabolical entities meaning to terrify, but instead, soliciting chuckles of derision. Interspersed throughout all of this drivel are explicit scenes of lewd licentious sex that fill up entire chapters and fail to entertain. A preposterous poorly written parody of a book that attempts to masquerade as an misshapen prodigy born of a mishmash between Neil Gaiman and Clive Barker's literary masterpieces but horribly falls flat on its face wide of its intended mark. Once...begins well, the first few chapters are well written, literary honey proffered to grasp the reader's attention and draw them in, and then, like a mousetrap snapping over a hapless creature's head, the reader finds themselves admist a gigantic yawn over a hundred pages into the book, wondering when the story will finally begin. And when it does it comes as a great disappointment. Predictable and cliched, the plot follows the overdone good vrs evil duality, preaching about god and his beloved son, while lauding carefree and open lovemaking. Read more ›
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3.0 out of 5 stars Slow,slow,quick,quick,slow Aug. 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I found that this book kept me interested but wasn't great. It was certainly unsettling in parts, but not nearly as scary as The Dark, The Survivor and his classics. I would also say that the end was disappointing, unless there is more to come....
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4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable read. June 21 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I did not fall hoplessly in love with James Herbert's "Once..." as I did with some of his other works viz. "The Magic Cottage" and what I like to call "The Rat Trilogy" but I was still much more than pleasantly entertained by this Faerie-tale. His somewhat less than detailed account of the realm of the Faerie was interesting and insightful but it did leave me wanting more. My reasons for liking this book are purely sentimental. I myself grew up reading the old fairytales and still enjoy doing so just for the sheer pleasure they bring. I too at one time lived on an estate surrounded by a forest with a river flowing through it (no lake though and sadly, no faerefolkis...that I saw). The chapter title "What Katy Did" made me smile because as a child, I loved reading those "katy" books you know; "What Katy Did Next" and "What Katy did at school" and while I am not a huge fan of hers I do like Bjork's music. To be honest I found the sex more erotic than pornographic in keeping with the faerefolkis views on such things and as such, not out of place. However, a major sore point for me-and this is personal-was his erroneous use of the words Wicca and Wiccan. Yes, we-I am Wiccan-do practise herb lore and all that it entails. Yes, we do magic (for want of a better word) casting spells and such and yes, we are called witches. We DO NOT however delve into the dark mysteries. Nor do we call upon anyone/anything answering to the name of Beelzibub. A true Wiccan's purpose is NOT to bring harm to others. Point of fact, we are strongly against doing so (in all fairness Mr. Herbert does say something to this effect in "chapter: fourteenth" but still...)and anyone who does so does NOT follow the Wiccan path. Read more ›
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