Since there was so much commentary about the narration I have to say first, it wasn't bad. The german accents were a little heavy handed for a narrated story but having heard many germans speak english, it could have been a lot harsher [I know that doesn't sound very p.c., to say but it's kinda true]. Harris' southern accent I thought was charming and not in the least bit detracting. It's a lot more mild than I've heard from my own southern family!
A wonderfully researched and well developed backstory and character psychology to where suspension of disbelief was virtually unnecessary.
I think the abridged version of this story would have worked for me better. With the pacing, which suited Hannibal's personality as we know it - calculated and deliberate - was far too sleepy for me and I struggled to stay with it. By the time we find out what really happened to Mischka and Hannibal's exacting revenge, I was past ready to be done. That said, it is a terrific story.
I'm not one for stories whose characters are mostly cops, FBI agents and detectives but for what it was it was a good one. If I'd based this solely on my particular preferences [I prefer a much darkly rooted mental sensibility a la Deliverance or We Need to Talk about Kevin] I may have given this a 3.5. The southern setting and creepy set up [arachnids, a serial killer and the deep south] is was attracted me to this story as I've been looking for good modern southern gothic. The setting, story and characters were all there but it did not have the deep seated eeriness that I was looking for. However, I did get the creepy crawleys and had a good few nights of bad spider dreams! Gardner weaves a fine story and if you like a good mystery this'll do ya.
On a scale of 1 to 10 it's a 9.75.
The book that comes to mind with this question is "We Need to Talk About Kevin" because both authors share a candid insight into taboo subject matters between mothers and children and other blood relatives - at times delicate, at times pretty brutal. They seem to understand that people aren't either good or bad but both and are able to articulate it well.
My favorite scene was where Camille's mother explains why she wasn't able to love her.
Ahhmm.... "Familial legacies knows know bounds" I dunno...
Gillian Flynn is my new favorite author. After listening to this one I went straight for Dark Places which was extremely satisfying and then on to Gone Girl which I am still listening to. Flynn's Southern Gothic style invokes such atmosphere and beauty. Initially when I read the story lines of each of these novels I was turned off as I am not a fan of detective stories which is what the description called to mind. But the first two minutes of each one had me hooked and none read like "who-done-it" crime stories in the least. Even if you do figure out who "did it", you come away with so much more than that. You also come away with a full understanding of your lead character as she [or he] is figuring out. Narration was pitch perfect.
By the time I was 25 I'd read all a non historian could read on dear old Vlad. So the historical stuff I was already keen to, but the story woven around it was intriguing and kept it interesting. Awesome narration too. The problem is that it dragged terribly and toward the end the highly educated characters became pretty dense in connecting the dots. By the time I found out all I wanted to know and thought the book was done I saw there were 3 more chapters to go. Oh no! I'm there now and planning on playing it at double speed to finish as fast as I can because I am bored but want to know how it ends.
I dislike giving negative reviews but this book's description gives the impression of real dark dread. Not so. More like an after-school special with bad words and a sex scene. I really wanted to like this book and given all the good reviews, I thought I would... For one thing, the constant reminders this took place in the 80s was heavy handed and annoying because they were poured onto scenes that did nothing to add to the story - simply serving as yet another overbearing reminder that it's 1984. Second and most unforgivable, the monster speaks (bummer) but it's not just that, it's a massive verbal info dump, explaining his plans right in the first chapter of the book.
At the start I made the adjustment that I would simply ignore that the author named the main character Timmy and made myself beleive that it would not be an indication of how the rest of the story would unfold, but it is. Come on. Timmy? Were it not for the clumsily written sexual opening to the story and a few F bombs here and there, this would be a children's book worthy of "Goosebumps".
Last, the narration is fine. In fact the timbre of June's voice is soothing and appropriate. But when it came time to do the ghouls voice, it quickly turned into a circus. Imagine your grandfather reading to you the story of the Jack and Beanstalk and you'll get the picture. Worst of all, whenever a point of tension, suspense or drama came around his words would come out of his mouth in a stilted Shatner-esqu pace that became difficult not to focus on and ultimately made me want to chuck my iphone into a corner and stomp on it. This audiobook does not get my recommendation and I feel sorrow at the loss of my $14 which I'll never see again...
Narration was top notch. I love this guy's voice.
To be fair, stories that involve crooked cops and guns usually bore me. Knowing this, I bought it anyway thinking it would be a 'thriller' but I'm afraid it was not.
I won't spoil it, but I'll say this: I held on until the second half of the book where the main character's background - the only thing that kept me hanging on - is finally revealed. Major stink bomb there only because I was hoping for something darker. What seemed like an intriguing story quickly turned into a convoluted episode of Law and Order. Even given the few compelling characters, namely "Shep" and Kat, I was ultimately bored with the basis of this story and didn't care to finish. There was maybe 1/5th to go, which is a lot of time to invest, and I still gave up.
It's not for me but might be for others. I bet my mom would have liked it.
I'd recommend this to readers who like suspenseful crime with cops, crooked business deals and guns etc... not a dark psychological thriller.
The story is intriguing but lingered so long on in many areas and in ways that I could find no significance pertaining to the story or in a way I simply didn't care about that I got lost figuring out what it was "about". Resolving her current life with her childhood trauma? Running away only to be pulled magnetically, back? Facing her past? I could not tell therefore making it hard to mean anything to me.
Performance was good, it's mainly what helped me stay with the story to the end. Love her voice.
I'll compare it to the T.V., show Creepshow and assume the campiness was purposeful. Humor in horror isn't beyond me but some of the stories gave me the distinct feeling the author has a chip on his should about women. This, coming from a woman who loves all kinds of horror. The narration REALLY didn't help. Every female character's voice was affected with the kind of sarcastic, whiney imitation usually reserved for hateful children who mock their parents behind their backs.
Highly recommended, it was riveting. I was so frustrated at the writer for creating a protagonist character who used too many big words until I realize that her character was multilayered and who WAS in fact, not faultless and very very pretentious, a question she asks herself then dismisses as simply being 'curious and intelligent and worldly'. The tension created in being drawn to the mother's corner only to turn around and question how likable she really is was one of the things I found so fascinating. The characters were so multilayered here and felt as true to life as most people are flawed.
This will sound very gender biased but I was amazed that this was written by a man. The complicated and often conflicting emotions a mother goes through raising a very difficult and angry child were so precise. I say this because universally it's an absolute taboo for a mother to feel anything but love and adoration for her child. It may not be openly stated, but it's far more acceptable for fathers to feel ambivalent toward a child. I can not wait for the movie to come to town.
First to be fair, I stopped listening half way through the first of the 3 chapter breaks so if what I didn't like somehow changed, I'd be surprised. Regardless of what was going on at any given moment of the plot, Simmons doesn't convey any sense of dread or horror even during the "scary parts". The comparisons to King's Stand By Me or IT are warranted and would have been fine had it not been such at labored attempt at recreating the same vibe as those stories. For example, MUCH too much time dwelling on the details of a baseball game and the neighborhood kids to draw out that sense of camaraderie was really painful. That's when I called it quits. Disappointed. Right now, even though I feel I've drained all my options for horror fiction, I won't be going back to finish this. If the story is good it's still a huge bore because it simply isn't scary. The narration doesn't help but it's not all his fault. There is an art to horror that I'm afraid so many modern writers don't get.
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