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High fantasy knock out

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-03-2019

I think this is the quickest I've ever finished an audiobook! Novik does wonderfully to create a world of magic and fantasy, told through the perspective of a quirky but admirable heroine. While it can be considered a coming of age, this is also a novel with strong environmental themes. The presence of alternative magic, and its conflict with traditional magic can act as a metaphor for the power of the road not taken. Sobey's narration does seem robotic at first. But her crisp diction soon works in her favour and she creates the voice of the main character beautifully. Fantastic pronunciation of what I assume to be Polish names, and great voices of different characters.

A clever memoir

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-02-2019

Trevor Noah is known for his witty insights into not just human minds, but also the complexities of different societies. His memoir about his life growing up in South Africa is no different. Written and narrated by Noah, listeners are taken on a journey into a different world. One not pitied by the narrator, but affectionately turned over to reveal a struggling, but ultimately human, underbelly. Though anecdotes are disjointed at times, and seemingly disconnected from the chronological structure of the narrative, Noah balances well the ability to consider his childhood both objectively and subjectively. His inclusion of different languages, and depiction of lessons learned are both wise and yet simple.

An 80s flashback of horrors

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-02-2019

If you like novels that capture a particular time and place well, then this book is for you. Like Hendrix's previous novel Horrorstor, which tapped cleverly into the experience of IKEA floor staff, My Best Friend's Exorcism uses a charming combination of wit and familiarity to draw us in. Set in the 80s Charleston, a southern town, Hendrix captures perfectly, the teenage girl experience of the time. Full of throwbacks to pop culture, the novel transcends genres to explore deeper human experiences, such as friendship and it's impact on our lives. The main characters are believable and complex, and surprisingly the villains are not just your expected 'demon', but also adult, human, and flawed. Through them, Hendrix considers the willful ignorance of adults, and the impact of their own selfish desires to maintain the status-quo. Zeller as a narrator starts off sounding robotic. However, is a perfect complement to Hendrix's dialogue, bringing to life, the voice of teenage girls. In climatic moments, she pulls through, and in the end, she really hits her stride. Bringing tears to the eyes of listeners at the beauty and poignancy of friendship. Though light on the horror, Hendrix does produce an entertaining novel which ultimately is fulfilling.

An outback noir

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-02-2019

Scrublands comes on the heels of a wave of crime-fiction populating Australian bookstores. I'd heard from other people that this novel was comparable to Jane Harper's 'The Dry'. Some said it was better, some said it was worse. After trying and failing to read the novel thrice, I turned to the audiobook. Dorje Swallow brings to life an otherwise barren and listless plot. His accent, and dialogue of other characters constructs distinct personalities to the town. His reading of Codger Harris, in particular, is both entertaining and powerful. Despite a shallow construction of characters, Hammer does explore interesting ideas such as the place of the media in society. In particular, the impact that reporting (both poor and accurate) has on the lives of their subjects. This is sometimes undermined by the one-dimensional depiction of female characters, especially Mandalay Blonde, who sadly, fills the role of 'femme fatale' that Hammer ironically labels her in the novel. I would recommend the audiobook on the strength of Swallow's narration, but warn readers away from the novel on the weakness of Hammer's writing.

A disappointing gothic

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-11-2018

The premise of the novel has everything you would want in a Gothic novel. Isolated mansion in winter? Check. Oppressive atmosphere fueled by the weather? Check. Heroine's battling darkness by themselves? Check. But what Purcell promises in her blurb is not seen in the text at all, except through glimpses of prose that does nothing to endear the reader to her protagonist. I was surprised to see that Purcell, a woman, wrote female characters who were either two-dimensional, or unfavorable. For example, the main character, Elsie, despite being from a working class background, is so haughty and judgmental on every other female character in the text! Not only their actions but perhaps more unforgiving, their appearance too. Similarly, the vilification of the 'gypsies' along with the liberal use of the slur was surprising. And rather than Purcell make a comment about the prejudices of the time, she seems to revel in them. With the murder of innocent Romani characters left unpunished and as a loose end by the novel's conclusion. The monsters themselves were underwhelming, and at the end, I found myself rooting for them over the heroine. Scarfe does a pretty good job at trying to get listeners to sympathise with otherwise very unsympathetic characters. Her dialogue of different characters, especially the servants though, does nothing to endear us to Elsie who's internal monologue at times is so ignorant that you forget she's from a working class background. And then Purcell reminds you again, and you wonder if the author even likes the character she's created. And if not, why should we?

1 person found this helpful

A southern horror

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-11-2018

Distinctly southern, McDowell captures hauntingly, the oppressive atmosphere of a summer in the south. In this classic haunted house story, McDowell explores the boundaries of the genre. Exploring what spirits are, where they come from, and what they can do. In this way, it's not necessarily the spirits that are the root of the horror, but the unknown. While the characters are largely two-dimensional, narrator Bray lends them some complexity with his southern drawl. His cadence and pace in the different dialogues is what gives each character a distinct voice. In particular, the relationship between Luker and India. A pleasantly distracting read!

Poignancy dipped in nostalgia

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-10-2018

This novel was so surprising in many ways. I'd bought it thinking it was a horror, and indeed on some Buzzfeed list titled 'Scariest books you'll ever read!' the write up sounded positively Ring-like. Strange scenes appearing on video tapes? Who wouldn't want a dose of that? But if it is a horror, then Darnielle has superseded and challenged the conventions of the genre. Written poetically and through what is revealed to be retrospective narration by a mysterious story teller, Darnielle pushes the boundaries of all things. Experimenting with breaking the fourth wall and addressing readers, incorporating poignant musical themes at the end of certain chapters, and constructing a non-linear narrative, the listener is drawn into the seemingly simple and strangely nostalgic world of 1990s Iowa. While some might argue that the reveal of the 'monster' behind the scenes is ultimately unfulfilling, if you look beyond the genre, Darnielle has actually done something much more profound. He's explored fundamentals of human nature and the impact of relationships on us and our loved ones. Narrated by the author himself, Darnielle toes the line between laissez-faire and the natural regret from aging. An audiobook wherein after, I wanted to read the physical copy!

A modern Lord of the Flies

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-09-2018

Be warned: Don't listen to this while you're eating. Nick Cutter presents us with a modern-day Lord of the Flies. With a balls-to-the-wall circus of gore and viscera flung at you until the very end. And while it definitely fits well into the its label of horror, it doesn't transcend it; unlike the more heavy hitters in the genre. But Cutter certainly does know horror well. His descriptions of gore and even retelling of simple memories, are twisted into something macabre; inciting squeamish disgust in listeners. At times, Cutter uses too heavy a hand with the memories. The plot scarcely moves forward before one of the boys remember something gross in their childhood and it becomes almost rhythmic, and listeners fall into a pattern. The characters themselves are flawed, though quite one dimensional. The boys all fulfill a stereotype except for Max, whom is so vaguely constructed that he would be utterly forgettable, if Cutter didn't have big plans for him in the plot. But perhaps this reception of the boys is due to the narration, which is monotone at best. And downright lazy at worst. Corey Brill reads the novel like he's never read it before. Every time he reaches the end of a chapter, usually a time for narrators to construct some sort of distinct tone, he make it an anticlimax. So much so that listeners can almost believe he is mid sentence, before the next chapter starts. So it's no surprise then that his dialogue lands flat. And while his monotone is a compliment to the gore in the novel, it feels more like a scientist droning about his research, than an actual horror novel.

1 person found this helpful

Classically horrific

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-09-2018

I'd head about this classic for a long time now. While it's known as a horror novel that spawned the acclaimed film of the same name, the book transcends genres much like Father Karras does at the end of the tale. What Blatty has done brilliantly, is walk the fine line between horror and poetry. His descriptions of place are as beautifully poignant as his exploration into human nature. As much as this novel is about a possession, Blatty uses it to delve deeper into the meaning of faith, loss, and the connections we build with other people. Of course, one cannot discount the carnage that is the possessed Regan. And while Blatty delves deep into the science of psychology, and gives an insight into humankind, he also doesn't shy away from trauma and the darkest side of the occult. On the other hand, I was not surprised to find it narrated by the author himself. The narrator has such an intimate knowledge of the voice of the characters, that he captures and delivers the tone of the scene perfectly. I would however, encourage listeners to download the file in HD, as Blatty's gravelly voice makes phrases unintelligible at times.

1 person found this helpful

A comedy of horrors

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 15-08-2018

Grady Hendrix manages to toe the line between satire and horror in this workplace-comedy-turned-nightmare. Clever and well paced, the novel takes the everyday horror of retail work and introduces real balls-to-walls horror. Unafraid of brutalizing his characters, Hendrix follows the journey of Amy- your run of the mill adult, stuck in a rut. While her character's journey was satisfying to hear, and her growth empowering, at times the narration fell a little flat. Tai Sammons perfectly captures the deadpan tone the satire needs, but sometimes the monotone made the last sentences of chapters seem unfinished.