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Once Hardcover – Apr 20 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (April 20 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302854
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3.4 x 24.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,466,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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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

3.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By T West on Nov. 30 2003
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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Having just finished this highly entertaining novel, I decided to skim through the customer reviews before contributing my own. A trend soon emerged; the ayes or nays seem to be split roughly along national lines. Most English readers thoroughly enjoyed this tale of the erotic side of Faerie, whereas the explicit sexual theme seemed to upset our more puritanical cousins across the pond! Perhaps we are a little more at home with an environment of grim castles and mysterious primordial forests, where supernatural delights and horrors just may lurk?
The intertwining world of fairies and humans may not be the most original theme for a fantasy novel. Indeed I was reminded of Graham Joyce's memorable "The Tooth Fairy" on several occasions. Herbert however, uses his not inconsiderable talents as master of the macabre, to make "Once" something special. The deeply erotic prose punctuated suddenly and shockingly with moments of the grossest horror, creates a profoundly unsettling atmosphere, which remains with the reader long after the final page has been turned. And I turned the 470 odd pages in a remarkably short time, the tension at the end of each chapter making this the most moorish, unputdownable book I have read for several months.
Sure, the denouement is somewhat predictable, but is no less satisfying for that, and there were a few twists along the way that caught me unawares. Herbert's reknowned used of simile is as sharp as ever here, the description of complete utter darkness flowing "around your hand like inky syrup" being a splendid and evocative example.
Finally, I just have to mention the reference to Björk, which I found both delightful and inspired!
For my money, "Once" is one of Herbert's strongest works. Arachnophobes stay well clear though!
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