Brilliant -- indeed an urban fantasy. Mieville creates an utterly plausible (sur)reality which is grounded in ordinary details. The landscape and the lexicon are fascinating, and that makes an intriguing backdrop to an otherwise fairly standard police procedural. At times the setting takes precedence, and at times the action takes precedence. There's a fine balance here which Mieville masters.
The narration is excellent. John Lee does a great job with the fictitious language and the cast of characters.
It's a book that needs a second listen in order to catch all the nuances that one misses the first time around. Well worth the listen at however many credits.
This is an absolutely incredible novel. If you take The Strain and The Warded Man and a healthy dash of Ken Follett, you will have the Passage.
It is hard to conceive of a novel which can span so many genres with such success. The end of the world viral vampires book was enthralling enough (first part). The much shorter bridge with the tale of Ida was a little disconcerting. Then it picked up again with a post-Apocalyptic tale set somewhere in dusty (but not coastal) California. as the survivors attempt to make their way back to ground zero. It's absolutely brilliant.
If life as we knew it were wiped out in a fairly short span of time, what would the survivors look like in 100 years? That's one of the questions which this book looks at and answers in a marvelous way.
And miraculously, Justin Cronin manages to weave the threads between the two worlds by bringing back Amy, the 100-year old girl who was a sad and pathetic part of the Army experiment gone awry in Ground Zero.. It's an unbelievable book. The characters are well-developed, and Cronin is not afraid to kill important people if and when the plot needs it.
I normally find Scott Brick a bit evangelical in his narration, but it works here. He's a great choice for this book.
This is definitely a book which needs to be re-read / re-listened to almost immediately.
Yes, it's a vampire novel, but it's also so much more. And it's the first of a trilogy. My beating heart, be still.
This is the best audiobook I have listened to in ages. In fact, after I finished it I kept thinking about it and thinking about it, so I went back and listened to it again.
The story is riveting. An Australian in London loses his wife in an accident and then returns to his home town in Australia after he discovers that his own accident has left him with the uncanny ability to see the ghosts of people at their moments of death.
Back in Australia, he discovers that children are being abducted and killed in the dark woods near his house. These relate to the murder of Simon's best friend 20 years before. They also relate to a string of child killings (sacrifices) which have taken place over the past hundred years or so.
The story weaves the current day plot with scenes from Simon's childhood. Simon seeks to find answers and to stop the horrifying occurrences. He enlists his sister, his mother, and the widow of an acquaintance. They are all drawn into the mystery and the witchcraft.
The images in the book are compelling. The woods are haunted and haunting. There is witchcraft and ancient magic. There are ghosts. There are spiders and shape-shifters. There are believers, non-believers and reluctant believers. There are shamans and priests. Several characters die. The end of the book is surprising and satisfyingly disturbing.
The narration of this story is superb. Michael Carman is absolutely brilliant. His English accents and Australian accents are spot on, and he's one of the few male narrators who does a really excellent job with female characters.
The dilemma is whether to give Horns 4 stars or 5.
Joe Hill is a great writer. Heart Shaped Box was brilliant, and Horns doesn't disappoint. The book has much symbolism and irony. It's loaded with devil-related imagery. The guy who looks like the devil really isn't, and everyone who looks angelic really isn't. Ig's father and brother play horns (instruments), but Ig's asthma precludes him from doing so, even though he yearns to do so. In the end, his horns break through.
The only irritating thing about the book is the lack of clear chapter transitions. The story is told from Ig's point of view, but it isn't always clear initially whether what is being related is the current story set in realtime, or whether it's a flashback. The realtime story extends throughout and chronicles the day Ig wakes up and discovers he has horns and their effect on those around him. The flashbacks relate to pivotal moments in Ig's past -- those he knows about first hand, and those which he doesn't know about. The flashbacks are disordered, but they provide tidbits of insight and explanation of significant events.
Joe Hill does a great job with characters, dialogue and description generally. His descriptions are vivid and evocative without descending into parody. He has Stephen King's brilliant gift for the inner monologue.
This is a thriller with a twist. It's not really horror, but there are some neat supernatural or paranormal elements. It's an interesting look at what people are really thinking as Ig's horns seem to have the power to make people use their outside voices for what are very much inside voice thoughts.
If you want to be really literary about it, there are themes of death and resurrection, blindness and vision, faith and faithlessness, and hope and redemption.
But mostly it's just a great and very vivid story about a guy who unexpectedly grows horns and then seeks the truth about and revenge for the death of his former girlfriend.
This is a return to the old-style Stephen King stories which are chock-full of character development and plot.
The premise is interesting. It's Lord of the Flies taking place in Biosphere, but over the course of a week. When an impenetrable dome settles down over the town, mayhem ensues.
It's probably social commentary on the nature of humanity and the testing of our ability to get along in difficult circumstances. But mostly it's just a cracking good novel about some good people, some bad people, and some crazy people. There are corrupt municipal politicians, drug addicts, empathetic caregivers, a ton of power-hungry police wannabes, and some ordinnary struggling people who just want to do the right thing.
As usual, Stephen King is able to write a book with a hugely diverse cast of characters without creating caricatures. There's a good balance between description and interaction, so that everything is three-dimensional and engaging.
This is a joyous, large-scale novel. It's the kind of audiobook which is worth listening to over and over again. Despite its length, I didn't want it to end. Most audiobooks start to run out of steam at about the 70% mark, but not this one.
Raul Esparza's narration is great; he has a wonderful ability to bring many different voices and personalities to life without losing track of each one.
This is a wonderful novel. It makes me want to go back and listen to all of Stephen King's other works. Long live the King.
The Talisman is one of my favourite books of all time. When I downloaded the audiobook, I was initially disappointed with Frank Muller's narration.
It seemed to me as though he had to draw breath at the end of every sentence; it was like being read to by Jack Palance or David Caruso. But after a while, my intense dislike of Frank Muller's narration abated. I loved the Talisman and ended up liking Frank Muller's narration.
I dithered about buying the Black House in audiobook (despite having read the original in paper) because many of the reveiews were overwhelmingly negative. I wasn't sure I wanted 26 hours of unsatisfactory narration and questionable plot. But this is a must-have sequel to the Talisman.
It is essential to have read the Talisman before reading Black House -- otherwise,many of the references are overlooked and the context of the story is lost.
The story is part fantasy, and part thriller. A serial killer from a parallel world is taking children from this world, and the only person who can stop him is Jack Sawyer (and his trusty band of renegades).
Jack Sawyer starts the novel having no recollection of his fantastic past and the role he played in the two worlds, and the memory of his time in the Territories slowly dawns on him. There is less flipping between worlds in this book, and the cast of characters is larger and grittier.
The story is riveting and well-told. Frank Muller's narration is perfect. His range of characters is excellent, particularly the various voices of the Fisherman and his otherworldly counterparts. The narration of Henry the blind but all-seeing dapper DJ and sports announcer is brilliant. Even our old friend Speedy Parker/Parkus makes a return.
Parts of the story are graphic, but the violence is never gratuitous. Black House is darker and less magical than the Talisman, but it is a perfect follow-up. Buy it and listen; it's brilliant.
The audiobook experience is not as good as reading the original, and it's different from the Stanley Kubrick film. But the story does weather the test of time extremely well; it's as chilling today as it was 20 years ago.
Campbell Scott's narration is a little flat. Sometimes the narrator's voice drops down so low that it's impossible to hear. His characters could have been a little more lively. Campbell Scott is not as good with King's material as Frank Muller; the vocal inflections are flatter and not as resonant. If Frank Muller had done the narration, I would have given the book 5 stars.
The premise of the hotel as a malignant force which has psychic connections with the characters is still riveting. The hotel is one of the stars of the novel.
Jack is a flawed character, and his inner demons eventually take over. His descent from reasonably near-normalcy to utter madness is creepy and realistic. This is not the larger-than-life Jack Nicholson cartoon portrayal of a madman; it's a more sinister and more credible portrayal. It's a portrayal of a flawed father and teetering alcoholic who ends up succumbing to his own weaknesses and nearly killing his family in the process.
One of Stephen King's strengths is his ability to write for different voices. Wendy as the beleaguered and somewhat cowed long-suffering wife and protective mother is well done. Danny Torrence is a completely believable 5-year old with special talents.
This is a worthy successor to the DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. Fans of Dan Brown will not be disappointed. The story takes place during the course of one fateful evening, but twists back and forth with necessary flashbacks. There are some unexpected and extremely startling twists and turns in The Lost Symbol, and they confirm Dan Brown's genius as a storyteller.
As usual, the story is replete with references to art, architecture, religion and the arcana of symbology. There are many many interesting details in the novel about Washington, DC, the Masons and various historical figures.
After the story per se ends (with about an hour of audio left to go), what remains is a painful, plodding metaphysical diatribe about God, religion and the nature of the power of the mind in the universe and the influence of God etc. For those of us who are primarily interested in a good story, it's like being held captive by a proselytizing zealot and really adds nothing to the rest of the book. Without it, the book would rate 5 stars easily. But the last hour adds nothing to the story. It may be interesting for those who have an interest in religious philosophy and metaphysics, but it left me a little empty.
Paul Michael's narration is excellent. His narration is very similar to Scott Brick's narration, but he has perhaps a greater range of vocal characteristics.
The story is interesting, disturbing and compelling. Elissa Wall's portrait of growing up in the smothering confines of the FLDS is fascinating and horrifying.
I agree with the other reviews, though, that the book is spoiled by the narration. The narrator has a terrible cadence and rhythm -- she reads as if she is looking at only a few words at a time and is completely unfamiliar with whatever is coming next on the page. Her harration is so poor it's distracting. She pauses to take a breath in all the wrong places and creates phrases where there should be continuity. She does sound like a first grade teacher reading picture books to young children. This is the first narrator I have ever encountered whose work I absolutely will not purchase again.
Her high and breathy voice is appropriate for the revelations about Elissa's childhood, but she has no emotional range and all the characters sound the same. She also mispronounces words in places, which is even more irritating. This book would be absolutely first rate with a different narrator.
As it turns out, this is a sequel to Say Goodbye, but it takes a while to discover that fact.
The Neighbour is every bit as good as Say Goodbye -- the plot twists are perhaps even more unexpected. Trying to figure out whether the characters are good or evil or deceptive or honest will keep you on your toes all the way through the book.
The narration is expertly handled -- one person is the voice of the missing wife (albeit slightly nasal in places), one is the voice of the neighbour, and the main narrator covers the rest of the story.
The action in The Neighbour spans a relatively short time -- only about a week, but it is never plodding or dull.
There is a cast of potential suspects, and even at the end of the novel the story is not predictable.
This is a great read and highly recommended.
This is a great thriller with some unexpected twists and plot turns. It ends with a terrific one-two punch.
The subject matter of kidnapping and sexual abuse is graphic but not gratuitous. The plot has several layers woven through it, and the perspective shifts back and forth between storylines and in time.
The little factoids about different types of spiders at the beginning of every chapter is an interesting leitmotif.
The dual narration is well done by both narrators. The accents are good and the dialogue is realistic.
Do not hestitate to buy this book - it is absolutely worth it. If you like novels by Karen Rose and James Patterson, you'll love this.
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