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Publisher's Summary

For generations, the urban legend of Granny Hatchet has plagued the quiet residential area of Suvikylä in northern Finland. As the story goes, this immortal killer murders her victims with a hatchet then buries the hearts in a potato field and eats them after they've rotted black. But not everyone is convinced it is just a story.

Maisa Riipinen has returned to her hometown to complete her dissertation on urban folklore at the same time that Samuel Autio has come home to arrange his father's funeral. As hazy, disturbing memories from their pasts meld with strange events in the present, Maisa and Samuel attempt to make sense of the town's fearful obsession with the mythical Granny Hatchet. But if it's only a legend, then why are people still vanishing without a trace?

From Finnish author Marko Hautala comes The Black Tongue, a gripping novel about a terrifying story with the power to silence - and the power to make those who dare speak disappear.

©2015 Marko Hautala. Translation copyright © 2015 Jenni Salmi. (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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Disjointed and Difficult

What could Marko Hautala and Jenni Salmi - translator have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

The book owes a lot to Stephen King's "It." We have a story that flips between time periods, following several characters who confronted a local horror as kids, then are returning for varying reasons and finding themselves drawn back into the conflict. Unfortunately, where King had a streamlined story with just the two times, Hautala is juggling four or five (it's honestly hard to tell at points) that criss-cross in ways that are very unclear. There is little in the way of cues or tags to let you know which time period you are in, which often leaves you at a loss for minutes before you can comfortably understand which iteration of the characters you are dealing with. With characters like Samuel, who appear in at least three time periods, it makes piecing the story together difficult.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of James Patrick Cronin?

Cronin did an okay job... I almost quit in the first chapter when it sounded like he was trying his best to sound like Christian Bale's Batman reading a bedtime story. That chapter turns out to be a "performance," by one of the characters and so is purposefully stilted, but you are given no notification of that or a way to understand it, so as a listener you are left wondering if the whole book will be like this (and if it was it would be unlistenable.) He chills out somewhat once he gets past that but its still a bit "whispery" and as if he is trying to make it sound spooky rather than trusting the text.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Black Tongue?

There are several scenes towards the end that are bizarrely out of place. Minor characters from early in the book, or in one case a completely new character, are the ones that get to experience the major revelations of the book, not the main characters who are left in the dark (sometimes literally.)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Tedious as scraping barnacles off a hull

This poor book was written for a limited audience. If you're not a post gorh adolescent, you will request that your purchase price be refunded. I stuck with it for quite a while thinking something would cross the pages expkaining the happuy pyblisher's review. Nope. Nada. Totally suited for a Halloween comic book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Poorly translated and a disjointed story

Would you try another book from Marko Hautala and Jenni Salmi - translator and/or James Patrick Cronin?

No. The translation is way too literal, like a non-native English speaker did it. The terminology, phrasing and references were all foreign and distracting. The narration switches between 1st and 3rd person, maybe 4th person at times(if that's possible). The narrative is a mix of thoughts, internal dialogue, memories and what's happening now. Impossible to follow.

What was most disappointing about Marko Hautala and Jenni Salmi - translator ’s story?

It's incredibly juvenile. The author is obsessed with under-age teen sex, condoms, drinking and puking for some reason. Someone is constantly doing of these things, awkwardly and usually without motivation. He talks about sex, drugs and rock n roll like someone who's heard about these things, but never experienced them. The conversations and encounters are all unbelievable and awkward.

How could the performance have been better?

The story may be great, I don't even know. It needs to be westernized and translated in a way that "translates" so it can be followed as the scenes switch. Also, the entire performance sounds like it's half-whispered.

What character would you cut from The Black Tongue?

All references to the parents are over the top stereotypes and don't add anything to move the story forward.

Any additional comments?

I can't tell WHEN this is supposed to take place. There are references to flat panel TV's and cellphones, but the teenagers are all listening to 80s metal music, using Walkmans, playing VHS and cassette tapes. Yet Julia carries a camcorder everywhere. Maybe this is the norm in Finland, but it really takes you out of the story here in the US.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful