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Come Back to the Swamp  By  cover art

Come Back to the Swamp

By: Laura Morrison
Narrated by: Chelsea Stephens
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Publisher's Summary

Working on completing her ecology graduate degree, Bernice is doing invasive species research in Cleary Swamp when she is confronted by a mysterious hag who says she is the swamp’s caretaker. When Bernice discovers that the hag is actually a woman named Rebecca Hallett who disappeared in the swamp decades before she attempts to remove the strange old woman from Cleary Swamp, but little does Bernice know that Rebecca has a mystical bond to the area - one that possesses a human host and bonds them to it. One magical hallucinogenic powder cocktail and a space opera spirit journey later, Bernice’s life has changed forever. The swamp wants her for its new caretaker, and it won’t take no for an answer.

©2018 Laura Morrison (P)2018 Laura Morrison

What listeners say about Come Back to the Swamp

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  • Overall
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Excellent story!

I loved every minute. The story feels original and unpredictable. The author's use of skepticism makes the unbelievable believable!

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Nice

Working on her ecology degree, Bernice finds herself in the middle of a major project. She is cleaning up a local swamp and studying the natural plant life while doing so. During one of her visits, she's confronted by a woman who claims to be the lake. She's told never to return again. She refuses to listen and refuses to believe the woman is the lake. She thinks it's a homeless woman who is in desperate need of help and a drug detox. While investigating the truth about the woman, she uncovers more than she could have ever bargained for. This wasn't a bad story at all. I can't say I was in love with it, but I didn't hate it either. It had a lot of great potential. I also loved how unique the story was. I really loved the swamp being personified. That's why I felt it had great potential. The problems I had with it were the time gaps with no real explanation. I also felt like a lot of the story really needed to be detailed a little better. It felt like it kind of jumped and warped in many ways. I found myself having to listen to parts over again thinking I missed something. The book was narrated by Chelsa Stephens. I was quite impressed with her performance. I am sad to say that I think if it hadn't been for listening to the audio, I may have checked out. I would have missed out on an incredibly adorable and unique story because of that. But I digress. I'm not sure if I've listened to anything else by Stephens, but I am definitely open to listening to other audiobooks narrated by her. I want to see if she saved the story or if the story saved the story. If the story were enhanced and reread, I feel like it would deserve full five stars. It really needs a lot of improvement before I can say that. The characters could be a little more built. They come off as robotic sometimes. The story could also be elaborated on in many different areas. It really has some amazing potential. I really did love the unique aspect behind it. I didn't hate it at all. I liked it very much. I just didn't love it.

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Cleary Swamp

I loved how the author wove the mysteries of Cleary Swamp into a tale full of magic. Her thought provoking message about the defiling of our ecosystem was perfectly nestled into the plot without distracting from the characters. It was done in a truly unique and creative way showing off the authors' accomplished writing skills. I thoroughly enjoyed the creepy swamp hag the most. Trying to figure out her back story and visualizing her supernatural strength and abilities made the book for me. Just hearing the narrator speak as "the swamp" gave me goose bumps for hours. This novella had the perfect amount of details, but I would love if there ends up being a follow up or a prequel featuring the swamp hag. I could easily get addicted to more from Cleary Swamp.


I listened to the audio book version of this book and have to give high praise to the narrator, Chelsea Stephens.

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Author nails characterization, imaginative plot

I knew from the initial and thorough analogy that had main character Bernice fighting an invasive species of weeds as if she were fighting in battle that I was going to enjoy this story. And to take it next level, it isn't just any battle she's fighting, she compares her Japanese barberry battle to Arigorn's battle to save Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings) and even names her hedge clippers Andúril and Sting! Bernice speaks my language with things being "dorky" and technology being stupid. The result is just minutes in to the story, author Laura Morrison has created a character in whom I am fully invested.

Coming in at about three and a half hours on audio (140 pages in print), Come Back to the Swamp is a light, fun, and fantastical reading escape novella. There are really only three characters to keep up with, and the majority of the story is told from Bernice's point of view, so the story is ideal if you have to listen while multi-tasking. Bernice is both irritating and endearing in her flaws and self-realization of them, which makes her real and relatable.

The premise that the swamp selects a human host with which to bond is fascinating. That any harm done to any element within the ecosystem -- like chopping down vines -- manifests itself by causing physical pain to the host is a bigger picture reminder that there are consequences to human behaviors. Also enjoyable is that in Come Back to the Swamp, it is the swamp that ultimately controls the humans, and not the reverse.

As the book's description references, there is a "hallucinogenic... space opera spirit journey" that occurs in the story, and this is the story's shortcoming. There is so much that could have been done with those elements, but instead of providing a few more pages of explanation, it's brevity and disjointedness is discombobulating and creates gaping holes and questions. It felt like an attempt at a quick out -- that in having something so outlandish to account for a time period, readers wouldn't need answers.

Thankfully, as the story distances itself from that strange episode, the plot gets back on track and is engaging once again. And while there are logistical questions that don't get answered, those become less important as the story builds to its resolution. The epilogue gives a satisfying, though mildly confusing explanation (here, reading text might have made it easier to understand) and ends with just a touch of eeriness as a bonus for the ending. I would definitely explore other titles by this author because of her gift for characterization and imaginative plots.

ABOUT THE NARRATION: Narrator Chelsea Stephens provides an outstanding performance of the story. Whether voicing a male or a female, a hag or nature itself, she keeps each voice unique and uniquely expressive. Her delivery is even and her pacing perfect so that I was able to listen to the audio at regular speed. The audio has no technical issues and provides for a smooth, enjoyable listening experience.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Productions and the author for providing me an audio download in exchange for my honest opinion -- the only kind I give. This full review and other special features on Hall Ways Blog.

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Wickedly engaging

What an oddly wonderful bit of fiction! This urban fantasy tale starts off so normal and quickly becomes a little odd and then transforms into wickedly engaging. I really liked the main character. She’s a college student out to study the native plants in a certain test plot of the swamp. Part of her duties are to remove invasive species. My inner biologist immediately connected with Bernice.

Then up pops this elderly woman who looks likes she’s been living rough in the swamp. She claims to actually be the swamp, aware of all the meddling Bernice and her science team are up to. But Bernice is tenacious and won’t be put off so easily. But her stubborn streak puts her and a team mate in a world of hurt.

I loved the little forays into a scifi TV show that Bernice is quite fond off. As she slides further into the mystery of the swamp, her imagination gives her a taste of fantasy, exploring her favorite TV show as a fellow space traveler. This part was really a small part of the book but it gave me several laughs.

The ending did surprise me. I really expected things to end a certain way and instead we get a bit more adventure and two more twists I wasn’t expecting. Very engaging story! 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Chelsea Stephens was a great pick for Bernice, as well as the elderly swamp lady. I really liked how insistent she sounded for the swamp lady, and later, for the swamp itself. Her male voices were masculine and the pacing was good. Each character had their own unique voice. There were no tech issues with the recording. 5/5 stars.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Black Spot Books. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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The Swamp is ALIVE

COME BACK TO THE SWAMP reminded me of a spooky, intriguing episode of the Twilight Zone. The novella is bizarre and twisted, but with a message - beware of your ecological footprint. While not preachy, the author makes known her ecological views as she seamlessly weaves science and magic together. I love the supernatural aspect of the story. Adding a voice to the swamp was an interesting and thought provoking point of view. I will certainly think twice before spraying Roundup on my weeds and will be looking over my shoulder for a forest woman to appear and yell at me.

Chelsea Stephens did a spectacular job of being the voice of the swamp and truly bringing this book to life. I previously read the book but having experienced the audio version was amazing.