Mrs. Bender had an intruiging idea: Rose's gift is something very original, and could potentially be the starting point of a great story. The book starts off well enough, although I found it hard to believe that a nine year old girl would have the thoughts and observations that Rose has in the beginning of the book: she just sounds too adult and mature for a young child.
A bigger problem was that right from the start the voice and the rendition of Mrs. Bender annoyed me to no end: she reads the story agonizingly slow, takes long pauses that take any kind of flow out of the narration and her voice is flat, nasal and uninspired. Apart from that, she often stops in midsentence at odd moments, so it seems like she doesn't even understand her own words. She should have never read this book herself, please leave it to the professionals.
The book has some nice moments and touching descriptions of people and their lives. At first it reminded me of "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold, a great story that actually seems to go somewhere and keeps you interested until the last page. The "Lemon Cake" story just seems to have no point whatsoever and when the special "talent" of Rose's brother was revealed, Mrs. Bender lost me completely. It was just too bizarre.
I was determined to listen all the way to the end, to find out if somehow the story would come together, so I struggled on for hours, listening to hundreds of "He said"s and "She said"s until I was totally willing to throw in the towel. Then, seemingly out of nowhere: there was the end, resolving nothing, and leaving me baffled and very, very disappointed.
I can't believe Audible highlighted this book, as if it's one not to be missed. Maybe a marketing trick to get at least some people to buy it, before it was reviewed?
I decided to give this book a try, based on the string of positive reviews I found here. I should have heeded the warning. I mean: it's actually in the title: "Don't touch it!"
So, a word of caution for those who might consider buying this book. Actually, a couple of words...
First of all: this is a sequel! I'm amazed that Audible doesn't make that clear. And the weird thing is: they sell this book, but not the first volume! So, you plunge into a story, but you miss an awful lot of information about the leading characters.
Second: I couldn't figure out if this a book meant for adults or for kids. The leading characters are in their twenties, but they behave like simple-minded juveniles. The story is all pulp scifi/horror and sounds like it's written for simple-minded juveniles too. I really gave this book a change and listened for a couple of hours, but I gave up, because I got so bored with the flat characters, the constant emphasis on gory details, the cheap horror clichés and the endless swearing.
Compliments to the narrator, though: Nick Podehl did a good job.
If you're into simple blood-and-guts stories, go for it (but I get a hold on the first book, before you buy this one). If not, don't waste your credit, like I did.
The Thirteen Hallows was quite a disappointment. From the abstract and the preview I got the impression it could be an entertaining audiobook. Unfortunately it didn't take long to get bored and quite annoyed with the story. Michael Scott has written a couple of children's books that received quite good ratings from listeners here on Audible. Maybe he should have stuck to writing for children.
The Thirteen Hallows is filled with clichés and flat characters and the style is that of a poorly written children's book... except that it's riddled with graphic sex scenes and bloody violence. Apart from that it's repetitive: I stopped counting the number of times the phrase "the metallic smell of blood" reoccurred, but it definitely got on my nerves after the sixth time I heard it. I was expecting it to reappear in every mutilate-and-murder scene that followed and yes: as an unwelcome, annoying guest it came knocking again and again. On top of that an awful lot of the adjectives used seem to come right out of the pulp fiction & horror genre, making the story sound cheap and unimaginative.
Compliments to Kate Reading who did a good job in trying to bring the characters to life, using different accents and tones of voice, but it was not enough to make me interested in the one-dimensional cardboardy characters or really caring about what would happen to them. I was determined to listen all the way to the end of the book, but it was a huge effort. As far as I was concerned it was the second-to-worst audiobook I ever purchased from Audible.
It's all a matter of taste I guess, so don't take my word for it. But I've read a lot of pulp fiction & horror books and I still enjoy a well-written children's book, as long as the story is imaginative, original and entertaining. Unfortunately, I just wasted my money on an audio book that it none of these things.
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