"Mr Herbert has again given us a jewel of a story in Once his latest book. As always the language, lyricism and descriptive words give us the usual shiver and the shudder, but the lingering awe aroused by this story is brushed by the wings of the erotic and imbued with childhood fairies and elves, although the other denizens that live in the forest of Castle Bracken where the story takes place are not so pleasant, infact they are positively dark and wicked. Thom Kindred returns to his childhood home Little Bracken in the grounds of Castle Bracken - recovering from a stroke, Thom uses his respite period in Little Bracken to build himself back up, return to his trade as a carpenter and utilize the wooded terrain to exercise his damaged leg. What he discovers in the forest is more than dragonflies and bees. Thom has little or no time to settle in when he meets the voluptuous Nell Quick, the nurse to bed ridden and dying, Sir Russell, who owns Castle Bracken. Thom is in conflict with his emotions in the offset with Nell, he's strangely attracted to her but nevertheless instinct tells him not to give into the bewitching charms of Ms Quick - just as attractive as the settings he returns to, he fears there is a darker side to her. Without giving too much of the plot away, suffice to say lovers of The Magic Cottage will prize this book and perhaps even elevate it to a higher status, you will not be disappointed. James Herbert gives us plenty of shocks and surprises, the stirring of the hormones and the surge of adrenaline, awakening something deep inside with the primordial emotions of sex and fear, life and death. It will make you aware of your own existence, trepidations, morals, fervour and philosophies and when Mr Herbert has made its readers question these what more could Mr Herbert ask!"
Submitted by Judith McDermott - September 2001