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  • Kutter

  • By: Jeff Strand
  • Narrated by: Jack Clancy
  • Length: 2 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 55
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 50

Charlie Stanlon is a serial killer. A ghastly, vicious sociopath who chains women to a table in his basement and tortures them to death. He has no friends. He has no family. He despises his co-workers. His only pleasure in life is to cause pain and terror...until the day he finds an adorable Boston terrier and takes it home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very Dark Humor

  • By Cathie on 04-04-17

In Dog We Trust

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-26-17

Unbelievable! Jeff Strand is truly a weird and talented writer. I cannot believe he made me actually sympathize with a sadistic serial killer. At the beginning of this book, Charlie is the most repulsive of human beings - a man who finds pleasure in causing pain to others and places no value on any life but his own. And, then came Kutter. I'm not sure someone as psychotic as Charlie could really let in the love of a dog, but I'm completely positive that there are plenty of dogs out there that could love Charlie even if most people couldn't. I also know for certain that if you let a dog love you, you can't help to be a better person. Charlie definitely becomes the guy who is trying "to be the person his dog thinks he is". Great story with great narration by Jack Clancy.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • The Bees

  • A Novel
  • By: Laline Paull
  • Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy
  • Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,342
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,222
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,218

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive's survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw, but her courage and strength are assets. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect nectar and pollen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite Book of 2014

  • By Em on 12-07-14

What's the Buzz?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-26-17

This is a book that I will listen to many times and have recommended repeatedly and I wouldn't have known about it but for the wonderful chance to follow some of my fellow reviewers. When I had more time in my life, I would read lots of book reviews, but those days are long gone. Now I follow audible reviewers and they have done a great job guiding me to treasure. So, thanks to Jim The Impatient who not only listens to a lot of books, but also writes reviews for the rest of us. I have followed in Jim's footsteps to find some hidden treasures more than once and The Bees is probably the best of the finds so far.

The story follows one bee through her whole life in the hive and Paull gets the listener invested in little Flora 717 from the beginning. The Bees stays surprisingly true to actual hive operation; Paull breathes life and personality into her characters without ever truly anthropomorphizing. These characters are never human, but they are easy to relate to and care about. When you listen, you can easily see where Paull could have called these creatures "triffles" or "Caldanians" and made this a great sci-fi or fantasy (and maybe found a more defined genre), but leaving them bees does make for a wonderful story and I will never look at a bee the same way again.

To top off some beautiful writing, you also get a fabulous narrator in Orlagh Cassidy. Her voice work with this book is almost beyond description it is so good. I loved all of her voices and the straight narrative, but the best was her voicing of the Priestesses - so dripping with oil it made me shudder.

If you like speculative fiction of any type or just great writing, you will love this. My hat is off to Paull, Cassidy, and Jim The Impatient!

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Corpies

  • Super Powereds Spinoff, Book 1
  • By: Drew Hayes
  • Narrated by: Kyle McCarley
  • Length: 19 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4,346
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,076
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 4,072

Titan was one of the nation's most loved and respected Heroes, until an infidelity scandal tore his image and family apart. After decades spent out of the limelight, Owen Daniels has decided to take up the mantle of Titan once again to try and make amends for his years away. Unfortunately, the Titan Scandal is still common knowledge, and no Hero team wants such a polarizing figure.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow, loved it!

  • By Leslie on 08-22-16

More than One Level

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-28-17

I'd doubt an author who undertakes writing Super Hero fiction is striving for great depth and most readers in this genre aren't expecting that either (I certainly wasn't when I picked up this book) so it was a pleasant surprise to me to finish Corpies:Super Powereds Spinoff, 1 and realize that I got a some life lessons to muse over as well as a really fun read. And, this was done with a light touch throughout the book so that it never felt preachy or condescending.

Owen Daniels (Titan) left the Super Hero scene when he was awkwardly "outed" as a gay man and you might think the life lesson subtext is just about life style tolerance. Surprisingly, that's only a small part of the narrative. Drew Hayes has actually encompassed several different examples of people learning to be true to themselves and move on past mistakes. That's all wrapped up in some genuinely engaging characters, interesting battle scenes, good world-building, and a lot of humor. I am sure one of the attractions for me was that Owen is not a kid. Doesn't matter what has happened in your life, we all have the challenge of mid-life reassessment and I could identify with him. I also have to add that I LOVED a book that was truly entertaining for a full NINETEEN hours.

Kyle McCarley does a great job with character voices and dialog. His style in reading the narrative passages is a bit "announcer-ish" which took some time to get used to, but I liked the performance quite well overall.

I haven't read the Super Powereds series, but I probably will now. I will certainly be looking for Book2 of this Spinoff series.

22 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • The Boy on the Bridge

  • By: M. R. Carey
  • Narrated by: Finty Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,758
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,591
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,588

Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy. The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world. To where the monsters lived.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Bridge Worth Crossing

  • By John on 05-23-17

The Boy with None of the Gifts

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-17

Sigh...The Boy is definitely NOT The Girl. After listening to the transcendent TGWATG for the second time before listening to the TBONTB, The Boy was a crashing disappointment. Where M.R.Carey went far beyond entertaining in The Girl and gave me wonderful days worth of things to ponder, The Boy didn't even hit the bar for entertaining. Leave aside the lack of deep questions The Girl explored so well without preaching, The Boy didn't even deliver on the basics of engaging characters and captivating plot. Until the epilogue, the only character I gave a flip about in this zombified world was Rosie the mobile science lab. With stock characters and a plot line that rarely evoked much tension, I only finished the book because I kept hoping to find the Carey magic I loved from The Girl.

If you are like me, you will probably pick up this book in spite of some negative reviews because The Girl was so, SO good. And it might be worth it in spite of its shortcomings. You will still find Carey's crafty way with words, you will still hear the lovely voice of Finty Williams, and the epilogue is wonderful. I'm not sorry I read this, but I do believe The Girl was better on its own without this disappointing prequel.

As another reviewer quite rightly noted, although The Boy is mostly a prequel to The Girl, don't read this one first. If you do, you probably won't read The Girl and that would be a real shame!

41 of 54 people found this review helpful

  • The Girl with All the Gifts

  • By: M. R. Carey
  • Narrated by: Finty Williams
  • Length: 13 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33,201
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30,671
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30,675

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her "our little genius". Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh. Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hours in, restarted so husband could listen too!

  • By Pikay on 12-13-14

In a Class of Her Own

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-17

I have had to take a break from writing reviews because of my horrible workload. However, I have missed it - writing reviews does make you a more critical listener and makes the books, authors, and narrators more memorable. I find that as I listen for the things that I think others would want to know it keeps me more "plugged in" to the book and heightens my listening experience. So, I'm going to try to squeeze some time in for a few reviews.

TGWATG is a little bit of an odd place to jump back in because it has been well reviewed already and my take like most others was WOW! However, I just re-heard this book before listening to Carey's new The Boy on the Bridge and it seemed necessary to post this one more glowing review of The Girl before posting a far less positive review of The Boy.

So, what's great about The Girl - everything. Most especially, I adored the fact that Carey completely transcended the genre. I read a lot of speculative fiction - sci fi, fantasy, paranormal, alt history - and I love it, but there is a lot of trash to wade through. Just because you set your story outside of our reality does not mean that is shouldn't or can't still conform to all the same standards that make any novel great. You need engaging characters and a captivating plot at minimum to entertain. If you add in beautiful wordcraft, evocative setting, symbolism, style, etc., the experience is enhanced. If you can plumb deeper themes and give the reader new perspectives so that by the end of the book, you have a reader who is moved, changed, or gained new insight in addition to having been highly entertained, well, THAT'S A GREAT NOVEL. And, then it doesn't matter what genre you use as the vehicle. I believe that speculative fiction can produce great novels, but it only rarely does. Who would think Zombies could be the stuff of Magnificence?

If you never read speculative fiction, start here. Beyond entertaining, The Girl explores our ideas about humanity and "humaneness", sentience, and, ultimately, at what point do you extend to someone "the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"; when do inalienable rights kick in? Is there a an instance where it is moral or ethical to trample humanity in the pursuit of the greater good? Does survival of some of our DNA, constitute survival of the species?

The Girl has everything required to make a Great Novel, but to be a Great Novel on Audio, you have to have a great narrator and this book does (thank goodness). Finty Williams has a velvety voice that takes you by the ears and pulls you into the story. She succeeds at the best a narrator can do - after two sentences, you forget the narrator completely and the story just flows through your mind with her voice as the vehicle.

After my second reading, I can say unequivocally that any one who appreciates great fiction should read/listen to The Girl With All The Gifts. And, re-read it if it has been awhile. It's not as surprising the second time around, but just as good and there is enough "meat" in this one to sustain many readings!

24 of 36 people found this review helpful

  • The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, Volume 1

  • By: Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont
  • Narrated by: full cast
  • Length: 4 hrs and 4 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,475
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,334
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,338

Experience one of television’s greatest science fiction series: The Twilight Zone. This collection of episodes is fully dramatized for audio and features a full cast, music, sound effects, and performances by some of today’s biggest celebrities.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ELVES CAN'T LIE

  • By Jim "The Impatient" on 10-30-15

Fun trip to the past

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-13-15

Even before I found sci-fi in books, I discovered some of the wonder of it on TV in The Twilight Zone. TTZ was already in reruns even when I was a kid, but I would watch every chance I got and I loved the show. The episodes on Volume 1 are all original Serling dramas that have been rescripted for radio vs. TV. Some have sort of been updated, most are fairly true to the 50's and 60's. Although I remember a couple of these stories from the show, none of the ones on Volume 1 were among my favorites. However, I didn't realize the radio remake was being done and that these episodes were available on Audible until Volume 1 was offered on the Daily Deal so I am really happy I picked this up. Now that I know, I will go look for the volumes that might have some of my old favorites. (Best episode of all time for me was The Lonely with Jean Marsh - my brother had bad dreams for weeks after that one!)

If you loved the old TV show, you'll enjoy this - just the old TTZ music (doo doo dah, doo doo dah) brought back the anticipation I used to feel when the show started. If you never watched the TV show, you still might enjoy these dramas because the performances are really good, but you won't really understand why some of us still miss the master of delicious creepiness, Rod Serling.

27 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Mr. Mann

  • The Afterlife and Times of the Devil's Acquisitor Ad Infinitum
  • By: John Byron
  • Narrated by: Todd McLaren
  • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 873
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 820
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 818

My name is Marten Mann. I work for the devil, or the prince of lies, as you people are so fond of calling him. Yes. You read that last line correctly. I am employed by the powers of evil as acquisitor ad infinitum. I did not seek out this job: I was chosen for the position. To put it in simpler terms, I am a broker of sorts - you know, the guy who finds out what it is that you want the most. I make it readily available to you for a price. I think we all know just how costly that one thing that you think you need so much can be.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Great Angle on an Age Old Story

  • By Aaron Isakson on 06-10-15

I'm not a believer

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-05-15

After I finished Mr. Mann, I was left just scratching my head and wondering, "What was the point of this and what are all those rave reviews about?" This fantasy novel uses a religious base for world-building and since mythology and religion are often used as the launching point for fantasy, that made sense. The religious mores used are kind of a combination of the monotheist religions (heaven/hell, one God, one Satan), some Hindu/Buddhist teachings (reincarnation), with a touch of Puritanism (work righteousness, no salvation through grace) thrown in. Since this is a fantasy novel and not a theological treatise, I'm fine with mixing different theologies and adding some new ones (humans were created by angels and the breath of human life coming from the sacrifice of one special angel), but I still expect a fantasy world to be consistent and have internal logic and Mr. Mann came up short there.

Marten Mann is recruited by Abaddon (Satan) to gather souls from among the living. Marten finds his targets by reading their auras and targets the blackest souls that he finds. His pitch is, "You are already damned. You've done such horrible things so you are going to hell. But if you sign my contract, you can have anything you want for the next 20 years before you are consigned to the flames." Big surprise - most people sign, but there is major puzzlement in this process:

1. If you are already damned, why wouldn't you sign - you have nothing to lose! Usually when a story is about selling your soul to the devil, the assumption is that you haven't already lost it.
2. If you are already damned, why is the devil bothering to recruit you and give you something you want - sounds like he already has you for free.
3. If you know you are damned and you have "one last wish", why not wish for redemption or a clean aura or something that would negate your damnation?
4. Marten learns that reincarnation is available to all, even the damned, so anybody who doesn't make it to heaven on the first try (apparently most don't), will get as many chances as necessary. OK, so what is the point of hell and why bother with those contracts??

In addition to this central strange tenet of the contracts that didn't make any sense, there are other inconsistencies that I found odd and confusing:
1. Marten says he can read an aura and tell how good or bad a person is, but he is badly mistaken at one point (spoilers to give more detail) and the reason for that is never explained.
2. Marten could read auras as a living human, but after death, his ability is greatly enhanced - as an Aquisitor, Marten actually knows exactly what you did to get your blackish aura until he doesn't. After "reading" his marks in detail through most of the book, he meets a Vietnamese woman and has no idea why she is damned. No explanation for why he loses the ability with that one woman.
3. Marten is a man given to violent rages and anger and when you get his backstory, that facet of his personality is fairly understandable. However, he is also supposedly a man of great empathy and compassion, yet he admits to beating other children growing up just because they were different or he didn't like them and he lives a greedy, selfish life until he dies. So he only found his empathy and compassion after death?
4. After being told that there is no path to redemption other than living a good enough life through however many incarnations that takes, a group of people suddenly find heaven through - wait for it - forgiveness. I love the concept, but this runs completely counter to everything that was previously lined out for Byron's "world".

In the end I thought the characters in Mr. Mann were interesting and the story wasn't boring, but the "magic system" is inconsistent and confusing and the conclusion was pretty limp. I felt like John Byron used Mr. Mann more as a vehicle to comment on religion, culture, and rock music than to tell a great story or make a concise point.

Todd McLaren did a good job with narration and I would definitely listen to him again. He had a lot of nice character voices, although the women from Vietnam seem to sound a bit more Italian than Pacific Rim.

In real life, theology may be inconsistent, but the inconsistency doesn't work well in a fiction novel since it stymies the process of suspending disbelief.

66 of 91 people found this review helpful

  • London Falling

  • The Shadow Police, Book One
  • By: Paul Cornell
  • Narrated by: Damian Lynch
  • Length: 13 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 443
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 404
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 405

Detective Inspector James Quill is about to complete the drugs bust of his career. Then his prize suspect, Rob Toshack, is murdered in custody. Furious, Quill pursues the investigation, co-opting intelligence analyst Lisa Ross and undercover cops Costain and Sefton. But nothing about Toshack’s murder is normal. Toshack had struck a bargain with a vindictive entity, whose occult powers kept Toshack one step ahead of the law - until his luck ran out. Now, the team must find a 'suspect' who can bend space and time and alter memory itself. And they will kill again.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Team Quill

  • By Tango on 05-03-15

Team Quill

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-03-15

I was a little hesitant to pick up one more urban noir fantasy set in London having already read Peter Grant, Alex Verus, Felix Castor, and Courts of Feyre - all UNF series set in or around London. However, London is 2000 years old and packed with history so I finally decided the city could probably support one more. Good decision, me! After listening to London Falling, I decided that London actually could support several more UNF series if there are more writers like Paul Cornell.

The Publisher's Summary is quite sufficient to give you a flavor of this tale and get you started, however, I will note an explanation of one thing that confused me at the outset in case it might help someone else. The story begins with two detectives, Costain and Sefton, undercover attempting to bust a mob boss, Rob Toshack. DI James Quill (Costain's and Sefton's boss) has a brief meeting with Costain in a men's room to give him instructions. The very beginning of the book was a bit confusing to me because I didn't quite understand who were the bad guys, who were the police, and how they were interacting. Part of this is because Damian Lynch uses a very authentic accent for the seedier types of London, which nicely sets the tone of the book, but makes for a challenge for American ears. You have to get the rhythm of that accent before you can really understand what is being said and who is saying it. I would encourage you to stay with it, because once you get clear (it only takes about 15 minutes), this gritty, history-soaked tale really takes off.

There are several things in this series that make it unique and bear special mention:

1. I like urban noir fantasy, especially when the dark stories are offset a bit with humor and good characters. London Falling has both - no LOL, but lots of wry, ironic moments and believable, fleshed out characters.

2. Unlike most UNF, there is no one central wizard, mage, or necromancer. If fact, in the beginning, there are no magic-wielders on the protagonist side at all. Each of the four central protagonists has a backstory that draws him/her into the mystery and each has certain talents that are enhanced and informed by one moment that the four share while trying to solve the case. From that point, although Quill is "in charge", the four members of the team are equal and essential to the resolution of the mystery. So, this is a "team" series rather than another "lone wolf" escapade.

3. London Falling is very dark and truly gritty. Unlike several authors I have read recently, Cornell seems to understand that gritty and vulgar are not synonyms. There isn't much coarse language or lewdness in London Falling, but there is a deep creepiness that makes London Falling read more like some horror mysteries than like other UNF novels.

I have continued this series with the next book, The Severed Streets, and there were lots more surprises and another story utilizing the loooooong, crazy history of London. And, once you adjust your ears to Damian Lynch, I think you'll enjoy this narrator, too.

56 of 66 people found this review helpful

  • Tabula Rasa

  • By: Kristen Lippert-Martin
  • Narrated by: Kate Rudd
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 874
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 787
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 781

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why…

"This is a snap-the-whip story, dark and fast. The sparks of humor in the voice won me over. Bottom line: I think the cocktail of suspense and believable smart-assery adds up to an addictive dose of reader appeal." —Blythe Woolston, author of the William C. Morris Award winner The Freak Observer

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely YA

  • By Tango on 04-27-15

Definitely YA

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-27-15

Tabula Rasa starts with an interesting concept - controlling behavior by tampering with the memory of violent offenders or other people who might just be in the way. Unfortunately, the story slides quickly into standard YA tropes - evil doctors and corporate types; unbelievably intrepid, super smart teenagers fighting the system; a lot of teenage angst/anguish and a dopey love story; and contrived conflict during a long and rather tedious takeover of a hospital/lab.

Tabula Rasa isn't a hard science sci-fi, but touches on biological sciences and computer science. The biological science isn't bad; we already have a lot of research going on in the study of memory and drugs and techniques that can impact that. However, the computer science here is pretty lame. At one point, one of our intrepid teens hacks into a state of the art encrypted mainframe with a wireless tablet - uh, yeah, right. One other small issue for me; the author makes a big deal about a young male character being much less attractive when he put his glasses on and he had to put his glasses on because his contacts were knocked out. A. No excuse for ugly glasses these days - have you noticed the amazing designer frames out there, Ms. Lippert-Martin?, and B. His contacts were knocked out? Catch up - almost impossible to knock out soft contacts and EVERYONE wears soft contacts. The days of having your contacts knocked out ended about 30 years ago as I can attest having worn contacts for 40 years. Not a big deal, just a personal irritant with this part of the book.

Kate Rudd did a good job with narration and if you loved Hunger Games or Divergent, you might enjoy Tabula Rasa more than I did. Wasn't bad for the sale price, but I wouldn't recommend using a credit on this one.

30 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • A Darker Shade of Magic

  • A Darker Shade of Magic, Book 1
  • By: V. E. Schwab
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 11 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,873
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,541
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,531

Kell is one of the last Travelers - magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes. As such, he can choose where he lands. There's Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there's Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. There's White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. And once upon a time, there was Black London...but no one speaks of that now.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Not a fan of the narrator

  • By Alex on 06-11-15

Shades of Gray Magic - This one's a bit dull

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-26-15

Victoria Schwab starts this high fantasy with a great concept. Four parallel worlds whose only commonality is a central city called London. When Black London is consumed by magic, all the other Londons are sealed off from each other to prevent the spread of the consumption leaving only the Antari who can travel between the 3 remaining Londons. Oh, and there are only two Antari left. One of the Antari, Kell, travels regularly between the Londons delivering messages between the monarchs and doing a bit of smuggling on the side. But Kell's side job leads him into a trap that sets up the plot and introduces him to Lilah who joins him in the adventure.

I think this basic scenario could have been developed into a really interesting tale, but that potentiality is NOT realized. First, it takes a full 4+ hours for the book to progress to the real starting point; more than four hours to find out almost nothing more than I just wrote in that first paragraph! Schwab writes with some classy, lyrical prose, but just doesn't really say much. She is downright stingy with information so you get a lot of description, but little understanding about the characters, the magic system, or the point of anything.

The two Antari, Kell and Holland, seem like they might be interesting, but Schwab seems to want to keep these two so mysterious that you don't get a chance to know them. It's hard to invest in characters you don't know. Lila has a lot more personality, but she's hardly likable. A cut-purse and occasional cut-throat, she's very cavalier about taking a life.

Steven Crossley has a nice voice, clear diction, and decent character voices (fitting accent for Lilah especially). Only one minor bone to pic with the narration. Crossley uses a rather rough voice for the character of Kell which made me picture a man of 35 - 45, but Kell is actually very young. I was shocked to remember this a couple of times when the author referred to the character as a youth or a young man because I kept picturing him as much older due to Crossley's voicing of the character.

Ultimately, I spent 11+ hours with these characters and this story and just never got engaged - at all.

125 of 145 people found this review helpful