ONCE

James Herbert, Author . Tor $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0285-4

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. (Apr. 23)

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 470 pages - 978-0-330-45183-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-7531-1479-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-7653-4350-5
Hardcover - 470 pages - 978-0-333-76140-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7531-1358-5
Compact Disc - 3 pages - 978-0-230-52853-6
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-330-37613-6
Hardcover - 470 pages - 978-0-333-76137-3
Open Ebook - 300 pages - 978-0-330-46904-3
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