Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House" was published in 1959; Richard Matheson's "Hell House" in 1971; Williamson's "Soulstorm in 1986. These three novels tackle the "prove life after death by living in a 'haunted' house" scenario. I've listened to all three recently, and they hold up surprisingly well in 2010. Soulstorm seems very much a first novel, with weaknesses that are evident, but not overwhelmingly distracting. This is a novel I'd love to ask the author to rewrite after his additional 23 years of writing and life experience. While not in the league of Jackson and Matheson's stories, and suffering from an ending that was very much in vogue for horror during the late 60s onward, Soulstorm is still an interesting entry in the genre, and worth a listen.
The potential for major characters to grow and provide interesting stories about themselves and their world was well established. The hodgepodge of mythical creatures sat a bit uneasy with me -- trashy fairies, orcs, wendigo along with werewolves and vampires with odd powers make a kind of hobo stew that a reader may or may not find fully digestible.
Wyman did the author no favors with his performance. I struggled to find Owen's character in his vocalizations; the over-the-top southern accents were so horrible I was always jerked out of the story. Wyman voices a dreadful caricature of a Southern redneck or Belle -- but I'm pretty sure the characters aren't "written" as the kind of stereotypes that come to mind when you hear his accent and weirdly emphasized phrases. A reader with subtler portrayal for this kind of genre literature is needed to pull it off. James Marsters does it with Harry Dresden. The one accent Wyman does manage to nail is the Eastern European old man.
Monster Hunter is worth a listen if you like urban noir/paranormal novels, or have a thing about guns.
Definitely an unsophisticated, although energetic entry in the field. There are more in the series, and I hope the author found a good editor to cut out the extraneous, unnecessary padding and focus more clearly on the story.
My reason for passing on the audio version of Ghost Story is not solely due to the absence of James Marsters as narrator. Glover might be an acceptable narrator for some stories -- his over-enunciation and childish exaggerations of inappropriate words in a sentence had me first irritated, then amused. He clearly has no concept of the character or literature he's reading here . . . Butcher and Dresden deserve much better. I have a complete library of both audio and hardback versions of the Dresden stories. It pains me to not be able to add Ghost Story (audio) to my library, but there's no way I could ever listen to the entirety.
Slow Horses does have action and intrigue, but it develops at a more measured pace than many stories in the "spy" genre. The slow start to the story others have mentioned is due to the exploration of the characters exiled to Slough House -- and in this novel characters are more important than plot, although the plot is sturdy, interesting and timely (homegrown vs. immigrant terrorists) without being a cliche. The narrator is excellent. Highly recommended, and I bought the printed novel after finishing the audio!
There's not much real paranormal in this paranormal romance, but plenty of suggestions of Northern Exposure meets Dharma and Greg. Pure fluff with a bland, verging on annoying female lead who finds her guy in a brooding, easily manipulated were. This story seemed to go on forever before the inevitable results of sex show up, as conveniently shortened gestation. As harmless and silly as Naked Werewolf is, I almost regret the time I spent listening to it. The narrator is adequate unless trying to do regional accents.
24 hours of this novel was about 12 hours too much. I fell asleep several times, and didn't miss anything, based on where I rejoined the narrative. If you must read this, check it out from a library, don't waste money. When the author gets a good editor, she may be readable. (After she cuts out the lengthy nonessential passages about food, exercise, wine, old books that don't push the story forward, just wallow in Knowledge). The last third of the book was the best, but be prepared -- evidently the story is a trilogy, so just as something interesting happens, you have to wait for the next book. The witch is supposed to be "special," but she comes across as irritating, dependent, aggressive passive, and gooey when faced with cold physical beauty in a Vampire that doesn't want to consummate a marriage because "there will be plenty of time for that." Danger. Run away!
Like others I was very pleased to get all the stand-alone stories without having to buy compilations with other authors included. It was great fun to see how much of Harry and his world was present in Butcher's first story. Some of my favorite "extras" are featured in these stories -- Gard, Billy and Georgia, Thomas and even Mac. While not as polished as his novels, the stories fill in the little niches between novels. As always, James Marsters is the voice of Harry Dresden. Highly recommended to fans. If you haven't experienced Harry yet, start at the beginning with "Storm Front" and enjoy!
Produced by Harlequin. I wish I'd noticed that before I bought it. This incredibly silly story includes a mishmash of paranormal happenings as an excuse for a normal "paranormal detective" to agonize over why she can't have sex with her guardian angel. If you accept the story for what it is, and can get over a heroine who loses focus on the hot Scotsman exploring her oral cavity with his tongue (!) and drifts off on why she doesn't find him so hot, and agonizes over where to find glass-cutting equipment to break into a house when she believes someone is going to commit suicide . . . well, if you're busy housecleaning the story is bearable. The narrator wasn't wonderful, I'd think twice about buying something with her name on it.
It's always a pleasure to find a story that breaks a little new ground in its genre. Stacia Kane does so with Unholy Ghosts. Main character Chess is often annoying, addicted to drugs, and walks a fine line between competency and incompetency in her profession of Debunker. She is also a character with an appealing amount of determination to do what must be done. I hope Kane continues to build on Chess' character, and address her level of drug addiction in upcoming stories. Supporting characters were just beginning to jell by the end of Ghosts. Lex is a mystery. Terrible was wonderful and the most real after Chess . . . The structure and people of the Church need to be fleshed out. Lastly a word about the narrator: Wonderful!
The Hollows series starts out strong with Dead Witch Walking, and continues strong, avoiding some of the pitfalls and dead space that a couple of other paranormal authors left characters to stagnate in. Outlaw Demon continues to follow Rachel, Ivy and Jenks and strengthens the storyline around the Demons. Great fun to listen to . . . but the new narrator is horrible. She uses little baby voices and exaggerated vocal mannerisms that are just painful to try and get beyond, to focus on the characters and story. And would it be too much to ask for audible publishers of science fiction/fantasy/paranormal books to present a vocabulary list to their narrators ahead of time to prepare?
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