The Magdalena Curse by F G Cottam

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The Magdalena Curse by F G Cottam

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Category: Horror
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: A good story desperately trying to escape from overly authorial prose. A fantastically creepy badguy, and some tense atmospheric moments, but borrow rather than buy.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 320 Date: November 2009
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 978-0340980989

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Mark Hunter is the sort of father who would do anything for his son. After losing his wife and daughter in a tragic accident, his surviving son Adam has become his whole world. And Adam is an exceptional child – beautiful, incredibly smart and mature beyond his ten years – only recently he's been channelling the voices of the dead. Plagued by horrific dreams, able to speak Russian in the hours after he wakes, drawing occult symbols when he doodles, Hunter believes Adam to be possessed. Doctor Elizabeth Bancroft is sceptical, until she meets Adam, and witnesses the horrors the poor boy endures for herself.

Together, Elizabeth and Hunter embark on a journey to defeat an ancient evil that Hunter crossed paths with some ten years ago, whose curse must be undone if Adam is ever to enjoy a normal life. Along the way, Elizabeth will learn some secrets about her own past perhaps just as dangerous as the danger she faces in the present.

Oh it sounded so promising...

There is a good story in this book trying to get out, there really is. Unfortunately, it never quite manages. I really struggled to immerse myself in the book and its story. This had a lot to do with the long paragraphs Cottam uses. It's my pet peeve in writing, really long paragraphs. I can't bear it. But that's probably just a personal thing, and I doubt it irritates many people as much as it does me. However, the problems don't end there.

The second thing that stopped me immersing in this book was the authorial overtone the whole thing was drenched in. Hunter is supposed to be an exceptional character, not just some ex-army type who knows his way around a gun. Exceptional is fine, as long as it's believable. Adam is believable. I'll buy a child who's doing A level maths at ten. I won't buy a man who can not only recognise the symphony and its composer, but the specific philharmonic orchestra that's performing it from a recording over the phone.

While that alone would not be enough to really wind me up, the book is full of that sort of thing all the way through. Every time I came across a passage that felt less pertinent to the story and more dedicated to Cottam showing off his knowledge of classical music, perfumes from the 19th Century, or photographic technique in fashion magazines, it was like someone grabbing me from behind and wrenching me out.

Oh, and he explains his own jokes. As a general rule, if a joke needs explaining… it isn't that funny.

In its defence, The Magdalena Curse does feature an incredibly creepy bad guy and some tense, atmospheric moments. But the plot does seem to build up towards a showdown that's something of an anticlimax. This may be just my perception being marred by irritation, but the ending certainly didn't make me think it was worth the journey.

So, if you enjoy your horror stories, or are a big fan of Cottam, there might be enough in this for you to enjoy, but I would recommend borrowing, not buying.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

For a better example of horror try Brother Odd by Dean Koontz.

Buy The Magdalena Curse by F G Cottam at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magdalena Curse by F G Cottam at

Buy The Magdalena Curse by F G Cottam at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magdalena Curse by F G Cottam at


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