In the aftermath of the mysterious death of their lead singer, the young members of a now-legendary British acid folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient English country house with its own dark secrets. There they record Wylding Hall, the album that makes their reputation - but at a terrifying cost when Julian Blake, their new lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again.
Now, years later, the surviving musicians and their friends and lovers - including a psychic, a photographer, and the band's manager - meet with a young documentary filmmaker to tell their own versions of what happened during that summer. But whose story is the true one? And what really happened to Julian Blake?
©2015 Elizabeth Hand (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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"Atmospheric English Folk Horror"
Really my only complaint about this book is that it's too short. Its themes are very reminiscent of the English Folk Horror films of the 1970s like Blood on Satan's Claw and the Whicker Man. The story is set over one hot summer in the early 70s. An almost famous folk band are sent to stay in an ancient manor house deep in the countryside to write their second album. The sense of time and place is very believable as is the dynamic between the band members - at least to a non-musician like me. It really made me want to listen to the legendary album they create! The story is told in the present day so all the narrators are potentially unreliable given the distance of time and the alcohol and drugs they were consuming at Wylding Hall. No one has the full story and we can only piece together what happened from the subjective views of each character. There aren't really any shocks or big scares but instead a pervasive atmosphere of something not being quite right. Odd things happen and are never really explained so if you get frustrated by stories that lack a big denouement and exposition you might not like this very much.
As you can see it's quite short; more of a novella and probably one to get if you have a few spare credits. I would listen to it on a hot summer day - ideally sitting outside under a tree. Just watch out for the wrens.
The narrators are uniformly excellent. Having a different actor for each part really adds to the experience of listening to the book.
I've only read one other book by Elizabeth Hand and going by this I wish there was more of her work available on audio.
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