Once

  • by James Herbert
  • Narrated by Damian Lynch
  • 15 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Upon a time. Remember the faery stories you were told as a child? Tales of tiny, magical, winged beings and elves, wicked witches and goblins. Demons... What if one day you found they were true? What if, when you became an adult, you discovered they were all based on fact? What if you met the fantasy and it was all so very real? That's what happened to Thom Kindred.
The wonders were revealed to him - but so were the horrors; for not far behind the Good, there always lurks the Bad. And the Bad had designs on Thom. The Bad would show him real evil. He would see the 'hellhagges' and the demons. He would be touched by perverted passion. And corruption. And he would encounter his own worst nightmare. The Bad would seek to destroy him. And only the magic of the little beings would be able to help him.
James Herbert was one of Britain’s greatest popular novelists and our #1 best-selling writer of chiller fiction. Widely imitated and hugely influential, he wrote 23 novels which have collectively sold over 54 million copies worldwide and been translated into 34 languages.
Born in London in the forties, James Herbert was art director of an advertising agency before turning to writing fiction in 1975. His first novel, The Rats, was an instant bestseller and is now recognised as a classic of popular contemporary fiction. Herbert went on to publish a new top ten best-seller every year until 1988. He wrote six more bestselling novels in the 1990s and three more since: Once, Nobody True and The Secret of Crickley Hall. Herbert died in March 2013 at the age of 69.

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Audible Editor Reviews

A thrilling combination of the romance and fantasy genres, Once tells the story of a man named Thom who discovers a world of fairies and elves he's long considered children's stuff. This is dark fantasy, written with ornate descriptive detail. James Herbert describes each scene minutely, as if his tool was not the pen but a magnifying glass. The book's plot is less important than its supernatural characters and their various interactions. The world Herbert creates in always sensual and often blatantly sexual. Listeners should turn on this audiobook prepared to indulge their fantasies of all kinds. An epic 15 hours and 28 minutes of fantastic adventures are waiting to be had.

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What the Critics Say

"Herbert was by no means literary, but his work had a raw urgency. His best novels, The Rats and The Fog, had the effect of Mike Tyson in his championship days: no finesse, all crude power. Those books were best sellers because many readers (including me) were too horrified to put them down.” (Stephen King)
"There are few things I would like to do less than lie under a cloudy night sky while someone read aloud the more vivid passages of Moon. In the thriller genre, do recommendations come any higher?" (Andrew Postman, The New York Times Book Review)
"Herbert goes out in a blaze of glory" (Daily Mail)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Awesome twist on our existence

Let me start by saying, whoever said that this book has "too much sex" and "no storyline without all the sex" did not fully engross themselves into this book. Most of the sex actually played a key role in the story and what didn't was more character development then anything. At first I was expecting a fairytale rehashing Snow White and the like, but I was pleasantly surprised it was it's own story. Definitely a good read and the narrator was great too.
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- Amazon Customer

Adult Book-Adult Review: Once... And Only Once...

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

It is hard to imagine anyone truthfully enjoying this book. This is my first ever feedback/comment on an audiobook and I chose this specific one to warn other unsuspecting readers.

I received this book as a gift nearly a decade ago but never got around to reading it. I would start, stop, and start again for a reason that I could never remember. Stubbornly determined, I finally finished this future-kindling after a three-day trudging through it's mire.

If you like unrealistically-motivated characters, horribly portrayed erotica, and suffer from masochism maybe this is for you! Still, I doubt it. *sigh* More follows...


What was most disappointing about James Herbert’s story?

In all honesty, the main character's stupid cowardice. I am seriously sick and tired of these winy 'heroes' saving the day by just simply being there! Then, complaining the whole time about this and that! Work, dammit, fight!

*SPOILER*

All Thom actually did in the end to "save the faeries/day" was open a flippin' book... I'll let that sink in... Open a flippin' book... Not grapple hand-to-hand with an ancient evil trying to destroy the world. Nope, a book that summoned faeries... Oh, that he did not even bring! His sidekick elf did all the blasted work!

"Oh, spiders!" ... Seriously, dude. Grow a set and at least pretend to be the butch, egotistical, master carpenter... Gah, this whole book infuriated me. None of the character's motivations made sense. The plot could be represented by a pillow perforated with a shotgun at really close range. Then, there's the long winded descriptions and useless information.

... Just... no... no.


Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Damian Lynch?

As if the writing was not bad enough, this guy decides to take long awkward pauses that could of taken out an hour of time if he would of just kept on reading! Then, the weird voices. Baaahh, a creepy attempt of a man trying to be a woman trying to be seductive... Baah, gross.

If I were to produce this audiobook, I would of hired two readers, one male and one female. A man mimicking a woman climaxing is just god-awful.

I gave the narrator two-stars instead of one because it is not his fault the book is so bad. A man has to make a living, I guess.


If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Once?

I would cut all the erotica. The writing made the main character seem clumsy. Come to think of it he was a stroke victim, so maybe it was intended? I think it is more a reflection on the author than something intentional. The repetition of the words "penis" and "vagina" proved the author's lack of imagination.

Condense the book into half it's size and remove most of the first five chapters that basically set-up the story. I felt like they could have been condense into one, MAYBE two but definitely not five. Removed 90% of the words during action events. The over dramatization, as well as, the author's verbosity clogged the action sequences to a near dead stop each and every time. Keep the sentences short and concise to mirror the events. If any further explanation is necessary put it in as a reflection.


Any additional comments?

My final opinion, if someone told me this was written by a 12-year-old, prepubescent boy, I would believe it and think that this was an impressive work for such. I really expected more and I am thankful Audible has a return policy.

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- M. A. Thoe

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-15-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios