Friday, October 22, 2010

James Herbert: The Magic Cottage

In Herbert's The Magic Cottage, Midge Gudgeon and her boyfriend Mike Stringer-- he is the narrator of this book-- are looking for a quaint cottage in the woods-- away from the hustle and bustle of London. Midge sees an ad in the paper for one such cottage and is immediately, inexplicably smitten with it. With peeling paint, dying flowers, lovely rooms, and a charming mien, they buy the cottage.

From the first, the cottage has oddities: no spider webs though it has been vacant for some time and cracks in walls that disappear, not to mention that living there leads to mindblowing sex and spooky hallucinations. Squirrels and birds and other creatures of the woods love Midge, and she becomes even more fey to Mike's observing eye than she already is as a cute, little pixie like gal.

Soon, though, there is trouble in paradise. The neighbors are part of a strange healing cult: Elder Mycroft and his gang are more than a little creepy. What is the power they have, and why do they want Gramarye cottage so badly?

Characterization 4/5: [I enjoyed the realistic narrative voice, and the characters were all well drawn. I also think the name Midge Gudgeon is great.]

Plot 4/5: [The plot moves at a nice pace-- not glacially but not like a stampede either. The horror and shivery stuff unfolds slowly but not too slowly, and there is a definite racheting up of suspense. I only had a problem near the end when things almost got laughable; however, there is a nice twist, too, at the end. I didn't care for the ending much, though I won't give it away. :) It's semi-happy, I'd say.]

Atmosphere/spooky elements: 4/5 [The bats alone and the scuttling in the attic gave me the creeps, not to mention the cult next door and the dead who gain voices in the novel.]

Literary 4/5 [This one isn't deep, but it's fun.]

Rating: ****  4 stars  

I recommend this one. It is different and creative. I haven't read another spooky novel quite like it. If you like cottages and the like, you will love it.


jwade19 said...

Your review is spot on, Lisa. Good job!

The ending, IMO, was dopey and frankly stupid and marred an otherwise creepy and enjoyable read.

Clark said...

I've never read a "creepy cottage" story so this has captured my interest. I love cottage checked to see if my public library in Topeka, Kansas has it but unfortunately they do not. Guess I will have to start looking for it.

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