What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows, of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent—and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death…
©2009 Leanna Renee Hieber (P)2010 Audio Realms, Inc.
I would certainly try another book from the author, given that it was NOT narrated by the same reader (which I see the sequel is not so YAY on that account). The tale itself I thought was quite interesting. I will admit that I was not riveted and listening to it every moment I was able, but a fair bit of that was how much I really disliked the narrator. The story seemed unique to me, though I would have liked a little more...characterization? I feel like the only characters I got to know up close and personal were Percy and the professor.
My very first impression of this reader when I started the book was that she read much too fast. I felt there was little opportunity to get into the atmosphere of the story and the settings because they just kind of flew by. Changes of scene did not even get a slight pause so I was left confused for a short bit until I caught up with the fact that yes, time has passed and now we're somewhere else. Aside from that, the mispronunciations drove me absolutely NUTS. I know pronunciation is, to some extent, an arbitrary thing, but I'm reasonably sure that Londoners do not say Thames with a soft "th" on the front of it, as in "the." I'm also pretty certain I have never heard anybody pronounce albeit as "all bite." All these things together distracted me from the story in a big way and overall greatly hindered my enjoyment of it, which is entirely opposite of what a good reader does.
What I really would have liked with this book was a good English reader. Everyone in the book is English (with a couple of exceptions), the story is set in London, and we've got an obviously American reader doing accents when people talk (and she seemed totally unable to decided whether or not the Irish character was actually Scottish). It took me out of the story a little bit.
Overall, I do not regret buy this audiobook or listening to it. The story itself was interesting, though I'd have liked to get to know some of the characters and their supernatural abilities a bit better. I do plan on sitting down and reading this myself in book form to see if it improves to me without the influence of the reader and I may even pick up the next one to see what happens next.
More often than not, I've found that a reader's narration can ruin a great story. For this book, the dialogue was done pretty well, but extended passages made up exclusively of narration, well...not so much. This reader didn't know how to read a story and make it flow. At times, it was a frustrating experience. But this time, the book wasn't a lost cause because of problems with the reader. No, nothing stopped me from listening, and finishing this one in record time. It was nicely done, with good characters and an amazing premise for the story. The book was so good, after a couple of chapters I didn't care so much about the reader. As soon as Audible gets the sequel I'll be purchasing it too. 4 stars, only because of problems with the reader.
"A very disappointing listen"
I have had some very enjoyable surprises through picking authors I have never heard of before - this wasn't one of them. The preface was packed full of a whole range of characters, each a different nationality and background, all thrown together in a strange and unconvincing scenario. We get no chance to fix the characters in memory before we are whisked off to a time many years in the future. The writing was very clunky.
But I might have persevered if the narration had been done by someone else. Despite the fact that the book is set in London and has no American characters, it appears to be read by an American with a very distinctive accent , who I can only assume has never been to the UK - she didn't even know how to pronounce "Thames". I don't mind strong regional accents so long as they fit the location or story, and I read and listen predominately to sci fi and fantasy, but the irritation factors outweighed my normal reluctance to give up so early in the narration.
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South. Now the narrator picked for that is a perfect match to the story and setting.
Someone with a UK accent.
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