Tag Archives: Paul Magrs

Never The Bride (Brenda and Effie #1)

Never The Bride

The Brenda and Effie Mysteries, #1 – by Paul Magrs

by Paul Magrs

Let’s begin with an admission: I began this series by reading books 2 and 3. That was not a deliberate decision, just an accident. So here I am, back at the beginning to see how it all began, before going any further.

In Never The Bride, Paul Magrs introduces us to a weird and wonderful set of characters, all of whom call Whitby their home. Nestled on the North Yorkshire coast, this small fishing town has become synonymous with gothic horror, thanks to Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula. 

And it is fair to say that the town is as much a part of the story as the people who inhabit it. 

Reading these books out of order meant that I was already aware of Brenda and Effie’s backgrounds and the path they were on, but for anyone who is setting out on this journey for the first time, Never The Bride is a wonderful example of what is to come.

Paul Magrs has taken all the classic elements of the 19th-century gothic horror, sprinkling them with twenty-first-century humour and insight. I love the relationship between Brenda and Effie. They may be best friends but they do not always see eye-to-eye and the friction between them provides much of the book’s dry wit. In this, their first outing, they face not one but four mysteries: the truth behind the Deadly Boutique, the mysterious Green family, the strange manifestation at Effie’s junk shop, the strange goings-on at the Christmas Hotel, and Effie’s mysterious new bau. And to top it all, what is the Bitche’s Maw, and what has it got to do with Brenda and Effie?

Never The Bride is fun and an easy read. It has all the elements of a gothic horror without the tension and anticipation of doom. There are monsters, mysteries and mayhem, but all are delivered in a light-hearted way. Great entertainment from a talented writer. What I would say is that the following books are less fragmented with more involved storylines.

Conjugal Rites (Brenda and Effie #3)

Conjugal Rites

Conjugal Rites by Paul Magrs

by Paul Magrs

Once again, Brenda and Effie find themselves at the centre of a supernatural mystery. The two friends also find themselves the focus of far more attention than either of them would like. 

in Conjugal Rites, all kinds of things come together in an adventure that takes the two ladies away from their beloved Whitby to, well, Whitby-in-Hell! 

As you might expect, if you have read any of the previous books (I, for some reason, seem to have missed out on book 1, something I intend to rectify very shortly), not everything is as it seems in the weird and wonderful world imagined by Paul Magrs. Brenda and Effie themselves appear, on the face of it, to be two ordinary, elderly ladies, muddling along and learning a quite living by the sea. But beneath that bumbling exterior lie some very dark and sinister secrets. But secrets have a habit of bubbling up the surface, particularly if you are the kind of people who enjoy nothing better than sticking your nose into other people’s business. 

In Conjugal Rites, it is Brenda’s past that has come to slap her in the face, in the form of her fiance Frank. The pair were literally made for each other by their “father”, Victor Frankenstein. But right from the start, Brenda has been very clear about not wanting anything to do with the human jigsaw puzzle, Frank. What Brenda can’t figure out is why Mrs Clause, owner of the Christmas Hotel and local crime magnate, has got to do with it. 

But then again, does anyone really know what Mrs Clause is up to? And why has she arranged to fill her total with a gathering of ancient costumed superheroes? 

Does any of this have anything to do with Mr Danby’s latest incarnation as a genial late-night radio host? And why is he using his phone-in to spread rumours about poor old Brenda?

All will be revealed in good time, but not before the ladies and their friends find themselves, quite literally, in Hell. 

A wonderful tour-de-force of a story. Great characters and an intriguing story, held together with penetrating wit and style. I found myself chuckling throughout the book. Why Paul is not yet a hero in Whitby I don’t know. For me, he has put the town back on the map with his wonderfully descriptive view of the streets and buildings of this beautiful location. 

All I need to do now is go back and find the first book so I can see how the whole thing started. I am looking forward to that. 

Something Borrowed (Brenda & Effie Mystery #2)

Something Brrowedby Paul Magrs

I picked up this particular little gem in a charity shop, not realising at the time that it is, in fact, the second in a series. I only realised this when I came to read it. Normally, I would have put it aside until I could get hold of the preceding book, but as I also realised it was set in the seaside town of Whitby, a place I was due to visit that very week, I decided to plough on regardless.

Something Borrowed mixes gothic horror, fantasy and comedy to produce a tale that is both ludicrous and compelling. Not having read the first book (soon to be rectified) I was a little behind with Brenda and Effie’s story, but Magrs (pronounced Mars apparently) very thoughtfully included enough references to the two ladies’ first adventure (Never The  Bride) that I was very soon fairly up to date. In Brenda and Effie Magrs has created two wonderfully idiosyncratic characters who manage to blunder their way through a plot full of overflowing with vampires, zombies, stray body parts and a set of possessed furniture, all set against the gothic spookiness of Whitby.

Thanks to Bram Stoker, this busy little seaside town has become something of a mecca for fans of the gothic tradition. The swirling mists that often shroud the imposing Abbey, its narrow alleys and steep, winding pathways, make it the perfect setting for tales of possession and devilment. In Something Borrowed the town itself is as much a character as Brenda and Effie and their assorted friends and foes.

Something Borrowed has all the elements of a good old fashioned horror story, told with a wonderful comic twist that makes it a very entertaining and unique read. At times I was reminded of watching those old black and white movies that are now more amusing than they are terrifying. 

Brenda is one of those characters who leap out of the page and demand your attention – and affection. I can almost picture myself enjoying coffee and a cake with her in the Walrus and Carpenter. Her straight talking honesty and her strength of character make her a compelling narrator as she and Effie face a demon from Brenda’s murky past. 

There is also the question of the poison pen letters that have been dropping through people’s letterboxes. Who would write such horrible things? And who, or what, is haunting Brenda every night with their incessant tappings and scrapings? And why has Henry Cleavis turned up here and now, dragging up long-forgotten memories and feelings?

Read and all will be revealed.

Something Borrowed has everything I could want from a book – captivating characters, recognisable setting, great plot and plenty of humour, all told with style and wit. I will definitely be reading Brenda and Effie’s debut, and am looking forward to the rest of their crazy adventures.