Many of Stephen King's stories scare me, but few horrify me the way these stories did. I found myself stopping my iPod a few minutes into two of the stories, and it was a couple days before I could bear to go back to them ... but the phobic attraction of King's well-shaped narrative drove me back as surely as the subject matter drove me away.
However, I found Jessica Hecht's narration to sharply undercut the two stories she performed. Although she developed distinctive voices for the characters, her tone was so chirpy that I swear I could HEAR her smiling as she read, and more than once I imagined bluebirds of happiness flitting around my earbuds as I listened. Her tone was much like the one you'd use to read the narration of Lemony Snicket books to children under the age of 8. It was so grating when placed up against very stark and dark prose.
But you'll note that not even a cheerful, chirpy reading of murderous and grisly scenes could tear me away from the stories. King's knack for turning off the lights on the everyday world to show the glow of monsters from within our otherwise familiar surroundings and people kept me "turning the page" and looking forward to every spare minute I had to let the stories unfold a little more, a little more, a little more.
I'm eyeing my neighbors a little more suspiciously this week. I wonder why ...
This is a book I would have enjoyed immensely, except for the narrator. Her inflexibly purring accent was grating, and it was sometimes difficult to tell the words of one character from those of another because the narrator was unable to create distinctive voices. I see that the same narrator has performed several other Robin Hobbs works, and I'll stick to reading those from paper books rather than listening to them via audible.com.
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