“Something borrowed” by Paul Magrs

something borrowed coverI read Never the bride last year, and have recently finished the audiobook of the sequel, Something borrowed. Never the Bride was OK. It wasn’t nearly so brilliant as the many, many reviews on the Web made it out to be, being neither particularly funny, nor particularly spooky, and being a series of short stories pretending to be a novel. It wasn’t bad, per se.  It just wasn’t as absolutely jaw droppingly fabulous as some of the reviews I’d read suggested.

Something borrowed, so far, shares a particular stylistic fault which was annoying in the previous book, and in the first disc on the second book utterly dominates. Characters tell other characters about events which happened while the other character was there.  They send each other letters saying basically saying “I bet you were surprised when X happened!  And then Y!  What about Y?  The look on your face at Y!” and none of the other characters ever says “Um, yes.  I was there.  I drove you home afterwards,  remember?”

Book two starts with a good ten minutes of

“Do you remember what happened to us last year?”.

“Kind of. Do you remember you were dating that guy?”

“Sure: did you remember the mission we were given in bizarre circumstances?”

Sure: I get that new readers need to be spun up to speed: but then again, no, they don’t.  A lot of the stuff given as reminders has nothing at all to do with the plot of this book.

Later it gets worse; one of the characters has amnesia about events, with another trying to draw her memories out, so again you have a solid half hour of “I could just tell you, but why don’t you tell me what I already know?”

The reader is great. Her accents are solid, and her separation of characters is fantastic. This makes the book worth listening to, to me, because I enjoy it on a purely technical level, and the story isn’t bad as such…it’s just…average?

Paul Magrs is an odd author; I remember him polarizing Doctor Who fandom a long time ago with a book called The Scarlet Empress. In it he suggested the Doctor was stealing his adventures from another character, who was like a Time Lady, but traveled in a bus slightly smaller on the inside than the outside, with buff young men from throughout history. He had a very set view on how stories worked and didn’t work, and was forthright in its expression.

Which is why I’m feeling fine in saying, that this series just feels average.  It’s not so bad I’ll avoid it, but right now I have the choice between the next one and three dozen other things.  I find, of them, I’m listening to a biography of the explorers in the Burke and Wills expedition.  I’m not enjoying it enormously, but I’m not going to switch over to the next in this series.

I think my review can rest there: the performer is great, but the underlying material is just a bit too weak to sustain interest.