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Meet Macon. Tattoo artist. Athlete. Family man.
He's planning to run a marathon, but the event becomes something terrible.
During a warm-up run, Macon falls prey to a bizarre man and his wife who dwell in an underground drug-smuggling tunnel. They raise their twin children in a way Macon couldn't imagine: Skinning unexpecting victims for food and money.
And Macon, and his family, are next.
Mark Matthews latest contribution to the horror fiction genre, On the Lips of Children plays on a similar theme as his first novel, Milk-Blood. The theme of addiction. This is a refreshing and much needed turn in the realm of horror fiction. Although the novel’s cover gives the impression of the “supernatural” the story is anything but, and has a very plausible scenario.
The story takes place in southern California between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. Actually, underneath that location, in one of the many drug smuggling tunnels in that region. A young, yet to be wed couple, Macon and Erin, along with their child Lyric are visiting San Diego for a marathon they plan to run.
Macon decides to go for an early morning jog toward the ocean when he finds himself snared by a subculture of homeless folks that are doing the bidding of a family that lives in one of the smuggling tunnels connecting So-Cal with Tijuana. Erin and daughter, Lyric soon follow this same path in search of Macon.
Donte and Lupita along with their children Q and T have been living in the tunnel for years.Since the birth of Q and T. Their life is taking hostages (via a network of homeless people near the mouth of the tunnel) for money and and other “resources” to keep up with Donte’s addiction to “Salts” (which I presume are “bath salts”). Donte is severely brain-damaged and deranged as a result of his drug use. Lupita has had to use whatever means possible to keep her boy and girl alive.
Darkness descends on Makon, Erin, and Lyric as the rock-bottom results of drug- addiction and subterranean survival rears its ugly, monstrous head.
The mood of On the Lips of Children is somewhere between the movies Sicario and The Hills Have Eyes.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
To me, this was more of a dialogue than a novel. The way the story was structured I never felt involved in it or the characters. It was just a bunch of people saying stuff. If story texture is important to you, this may not be for you, either.
What do you think your next listen will be?
It WAS Girl on a Wire.
Would you listen to another book narrated by Bob Dunsworth?
I couldn't get engaged in the story so I didn't give much attention to the reader. So I guess he was fine because I only fault the story. I probably wouldn't have forgiven a poor narrator too. So yes, absolutely I would not be put off by his narration.
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from On the Lips of Children?
Seriously, I wouldn't have even published it if I were an editor. The format and the lack of depth that I perceived would have turned me away completely.
Any additional comments?
I very seldom say a book is bad because I'm sure someone out there will like it, it's just that I'm not that person for this book. If you like a book that really draws you into it by having the depth and detail to paint a mental image of you being one of the characters, this may not satisfy that sweet-tooth.
Captivating!!! Best word to describe this story. It kept me on the edge of my seat!
What other book might you compare On the Lips of Children to and why?
Offseason by Jack Ketchum
Who was the most memorable character of On the Lips of Children and why?
It has to be "T" and "Q", the children whose lips thirst for Macon's bacon.
Any additional comments?
In On the Lips of Children, tattoo artist Macon has been training for his first marathon, a feat he hopes will convince his girlfriend and accomplished runner Erin that he is a worthy suitor. Little does he know that a routine jog will bring he and his young family face to face a group of depraved and bloodthirsty creatures.<br/><br/>Any regular urban runner can attest to the flighty,nervous feeling one gets when running under an "occupied" underpass or down a poorly lit trail. Author Mark Matthews does an excellent job of juxtaposing the process of painful struggle, growth, and rebirth associated with distance running and body art with the real life fight for survival in this book.
Where does On the Lips of Children rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
The story was incredible and different. Some of the things have been done before, but never like this.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Hard to say which character was my favorite. I loved Erin's dedication to being a mother, I also thought Lupita was a wonderfully twisted mom. I wanted to see both of their kids on a play date. Dante was a crazied bath salt snorter who I could see when I closed my eyes.
What does Bob Dunsworth bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Voice inflections of the narrator were deep, and he changed up enough when reading the female parts.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Made me cringe, made me want to avoid dark places. Some descriptions of bodies being cut were done so well.
Any additional comments?
This is a deep story about family and trying to take care of what we love, but also a reminder of the sick things out there that can get in the way.
Starting out great with a view of a woman trapped in the dark, underground somewhere, with little memory of how she got there. I really liked where Mark Matthews was going with this. Sort of a The Hills have Eyes twist with the running trail has eyes. Simply a "family" of meth addicts live under a running trail and their only way of getting more money for more meth is to kidnap unsuspecting souls. To me meth heads are more terrifying than pretty much anything. No cares other than that next fix and destroying everything in their path. Making them great antagonists for any horror tale.
We get to know a young hipster couple and their daughter, that are training for a marathon. Macon, the father, gets nabbed by the meth heads. They demand $10,000 for his release. Beginning an adrenaline filled cat and mouse game of survival and deceit. I found I could not connect with any of the characters or the circumstances of the story, keeping me from fully enjoying everything that Matthews created.
Audiobook submitted for review by the author.
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3 of 6 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up On the Lips of Children in three words, what would they be?
Edgy, dark, powerful
What was one of the most memorable moments of On the Lips of Children?
One of the most memorable moments for me was when Macon came back and made his stand. Not to give anything away, but he didn't need to run that marathon to prove himself.
Have you listened to any of Bob Dunsworth’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
I've never listened to this narrator before, but he is very talented. Believable voices and appropriate emotion throughout. Very smooth reading, no awkward pauses or stumbling.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
I thought the most moving moment in the book was when Macon had to give up something he wanted to give to the person he loved in order to get that person back. He seemed to put so much stock in that object he had, but when it came right down to it, he knew what mattered most. I love the way he fought for his family no matter how beaten down he was.
Any additional comments?
I really enjoyed listening to this book. The narrator was perfect and the story was a perfect contrast of light and dark. There was plenty of tension and action and moments that made you cheer out loud. I felt a little bit uneasy about how the book did end, though, and wonder if there will be a sequel in that?
Would you try another book from Mark Matthews and/or Bob Dunsworth?
Would you ever listen to anything by Mark Matthews again?
Possibly but not if it were similar to this.
Did Bob Dunsworth do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?
At first the narrator seemed bland, but the story also had a very long, drawn-out buildup; once the story started coming together, the narrator got a better handle on the dialogue and the choppy conversations smoothed out.
You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?
I kept listening and although one does seem to be held waiting on pins and needles, it was not a book for me. I believe there will be those who really like this book, I however was not one of them as the story has very graphic and gruesome acts of violence and it is definitely not for those with a weak stomach. It's up-to-date and has a very realistic quality.
Any additional comments?
I received this audiobook from the author and Audible after responding to a thread on Goodreads.com.
What did you like best about On the Lips of Children? What did you like least?
I was provided a free copy of the audiobook, On the Lips of Children. The story was fast-paced and I was very impressed with Mark Matthews' storytelling ability. I felt I could see, hear, and sometimes even taste what was happening in the story. For the most part, this was a good thing but I must admit that some parts were a bit too graphic for me, such as the slurping of blood. That made it difficult for me to listen to. The frightening part is that this story could be real. I was very impressed with Matthews' characterization, even bringing us into the mind of Lyric, the daughter. <br/><br/>The narration was well done and I enjoyed Bob Dunsworth's telling of the story with one exception. Whenever he expressed a character's thoughts, the thoughts sounded as though he put his hand over a phone for it to be muffled. I found that very distracting. Other than that, his reading was very well done. <br/><br/>I'd recommend On the Lips of Children to horror fans.
I really enjoy finding new authors that are putting out new, different and captivating content. Mark Matthews is one of these guys. You can tell he is a serious runner because the imagery he uses can only be from experience, not background interviews. This is a very scary story based on the possibility of something like this actually existing in our dark world. The monsters are human, while being as un-human as possible. The characters are very believable and he ties together experiences that we all have faced as parents as an anchor of sorts. For example, we have all had that time where we lost track of our child, if only for a second, in a crowded place, Matthews links us to the characters with situations we have all had.
The narration was done by Bob Dunsworth, who has over 30 books to his credit on Audible. He does a good job with the only exception being that his “first person voice” sometimes distracts from the story and shifts you to the delivery. Its almost like it is a production issue where they had to go back and re-voice a sentence or two and the pitch was off. That is really my only complaint, really, so I am not knocking on him, just giving you my impression.
I recommend this as a solid horror listen, its not a long one, 6 and half hours, fast paced with no downtime. Give it a listen, unless you are a runner and plan to listen to it while you are running, AT NIGHT, ALONE. If that’s you, then listen to it during the day, in the car! Byf2 MyNextListen