Review: The Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger #2) by Jonathan Maberry [audiobook]

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only two books in and the Joe Ledger series has become a fast favorite of mine. Maberry effortlessly entwines a wide range of genres - military thriller, horror, science fiction, comic book action - to create an incredibly entertaining and compulsively listenable story.

In The Dragon Factory the extinction clock is ticking, counting down to global genocide. Cyrus Jakoby is a brilliant geneticist, his research building off the horrific medical tests conducted by Nazi scientists in World War II, and he has perfected the ultimate means to deliver the Final Solution and offer the white race complete domination over the Earth. It's up to Captain Joe Ledger and Echo Team to stop them, but time is running out and the Department of Military Sciences are caught off guard, stuck playing catch-up after inter-agency politics prompts the NSA to curtail their investigations.

There's a lot going on in The Dragon Factory and Maberry is an expert wrangler, maintaining almost complete control of the story's various plot threads and its multitude of characters. There's enough 24 and James Bond-style shenanigans and to keep listeners thoroughly engaged. The Jakoby family themselves are practically plucked right out of a Bond flick, with the incestuous albino assassin twins of Paris and Hecate conducting their own secret science experiments on a secluded island research base. Not every story thread gets wrapped up sufficiently (but hey, more fodder for book #3!), and some story elements simply fall by the wayside along the way to larger, more intriguing action sequences until they're briefly revisited and fairly neatly and quickly resolved in the book's epilogue, but taken as a whole The Dragon Factory is consistently good and completely captivating.

Published in 2010, The Dragon Factory feels less outlandish today than it may have at the start of this decade, as some of its more seemingly implausible aspects have been fulfilled in reality in only a handful of years. Take, for instance, the subject of white supremacists manipulating and controlling the White House and various government agencies, plotting to destroy the world by poisoning Earth's waters. Certainly this seemed more far-fetched in 2010, but here we are in 2018 with a band of white supremacists in the Oval Office, passing bills allowing our waters to be poisoned by mining waste and appointing the enemies of various government agencies to lead those very same agencies, like the EPA, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, and placing immigrant children in concentration camps, and on and on and on. Sadly, the idea of virulently evil racists plotting to destroy the world from within America and through a network of highly-placed and influential government agents isn't quite the extraordinarily imaginative work of fiction it used to be.

Besides the white supremacist bad guys, Maberry injects a metric ton of cutting edge science and plausible-enough horrors stemming from transgenic experimentation to create superhuman animal hybrids to give Ledger and company a savagely violent run for their money. Using the concept of scientific terrorism to fuel a series also gives Maberry a hell of a lot of elasticity in redefining the shape and scope of various horror genre staples. In Patient Zero, Maberry wrote about a militarized unit's response to the zombie plague. Here, we get rogue government operators, assassins, and a bevy of massive, berserker monsters, alongside a spate of other genre concepts.

It's clear Maberry is having a ton of fun writing this stuff, and his enthusiasm is infectious. The Dragon Factory is awful lot of fun to listen to, and Ray Porter delivers another knock-out reading as he firmly settles into these characters and brings them to life (and in more than a few instances death as well). He manages to make each of the characters distinct, utilizing tonal ranges, inflections, and accents to differentiate Maberry's large cast, always making it clear which character is speaking at any given moment. His is a pitch perfect narration, hitting the highs of each action scene and the softer lows of emotional reflection and devastation. Porter further solidifies the simple fact that he is the definitive voice of the Joe Ledger series, and I can't imagine listeners wanting it any other way.

Patient Zero instantly hooked me, roping me into the thick of things and making me a Joe Ledger devotee. The Dragon Factory shows that this series most certainly has legs, and that it can run for miles. While the action is fast and fluid, this is a series that is more than just muscular brawn - it has a hell of a lot of smarts, too, both on and off the page.

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Review: Patient Zero (Joe Ledger, Book 1) by Jonathan Maberry

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Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel
By Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger series for a number of years now. Having finally dived into Patient Zero, the first Ledger book, I'm immediately left kicking myself 1) for having waited so long, and 2) because now I have a dozen audiobooks between the core Ledger series, short story collections, and an anthology book involving Maberry's creation that I must proceed to binge posthaste.

Imagine 24 with zombies and you have a very basic understanding of Patient Zero's framework. Joe Ledger is an action hero in the Jack Bauer mold, or maybe John McClane is a more apt comparison given Ledger's tendency to crack wise and spurn authority, up against a ticking clock and a seemingly endless supply of terrorists to confront and kill. What could have been your by-the-book post-9/11 military thriller, though, is elevated to a whole other higher level of bad-assery by a wonderful mixing and intermingling of various other genres.

Maberry introduces us to the Department of Military Sciences (DMS) in a book that leans heavily on its genre tropes but succeeds in making them feel if not entirely original than at least fresh, comfortably familiar, and welcome. Riding high on the success of 9/11, a band of Middle Eastern terror cells within the US are preparing to launch a biological weapons attack that will introduce an unstoppable plague and destroy America. If not for the welcome injection of plenty of high-tech wizardry and terrific horror-based set pieces, Patient Zero could have been just another Vince Flynn clone. Instead, Maberry takes the military technothriller and turns it sideways by forcing a team of special ops point-men (and -women) to confront a horror genre staple. The bioweapon isn't just your run of the mill plague virus, like Ebola, but a genetically engineered plague that can spark a zombie outbreak.

To put it simply, Patient Zero is freaking awesome, and the premise behind it is brilliant. Maberry's taken two of my favorite genres - military technothrillers and horror - and smashed them together into a wonderful, perfectly formed hybrid. This sucker is practically non-stop action; a mid-point set-piece at a warehouse is deliriously violent and intensely claustrophobic, and the story is routinely punctuated with gunplay and fisticuffs galore. In addition to all the brawn and bravura there's a whole lot of brains - and not just the zombie food stuff! Maberry takes the zombie genre and explores it from an honest-to-goodness real world basis. What are the military tactics that would be used to confront such an outbreak? The forensics? The actual science? We spend a lot of time in the field with Ledger and his crew of Echo Team, but Maberry doesn't shy away from all the lab work and biochemistry that goes into giving Patient Zero a grounded, realistic edge to make it all scarily plausible.

It's clear a helluva lot of thought and research went into making Patient Zero a credible thriller, one that's as high in science and combat acumen as it is in horror. Making it even better, though, is Ray Porter's narration. This is my first Porter audiobook, and his reading here is impactful enough to have sold me on the rest of the Ledger series in audio format. This dude is an outstanding narrator and Patient Zero showcases his versatility marvelously. He can really sell the rapid-fire action but it’s in the deeply emotional moments of combat and the resultant fallout from the darker corners of zombie violence Maberry writes where Porter truly shines. He’s incredible to listen to! Porter draws you in with subtlety, gets your blood pumping at the intense highs of a grueling action sequence, and then emotionally devastates you with a perfectly delivered line. He's a seriously phenomenal talent, and in Joe Ledger Maberry writes a multidimensional hero that allows Porter to give a nuanced and multi-layered performance.

Ledger is a smart-ass tough guy, but one who also possesses a highly welcome degree of self-awareness. He understands his propensity for violence and the consequences of his anger. The dude is blessedly in touch with his feelings, something more of our masculine action heroes could do with, and not only regularly meets with his therapist, Rudy Sanchez, but is freaking best friends with the guy! He even encourages the testosterone-laden boys of Echo Team to consult with Rudy and emotionally unload after some particularly nasty encounters. It's absolutely wonderful to see such a positive portrayal of mental health and from an alpha male hero no less. Fantastic work, Mr. Maberry (and thank you).

Patient Zero hit all the right notes for me the whole way through (although I do have some questions about Ledger's military history, which I suspect runs a bit deeper and blacker than is alleged here, but only time will tell), and I positively love the horrifying spin Maberry has given the military thriller. I mean, Jack Ryan and Mitch Rapp are great and all, but they ain't fighting zombies, so Ledger is already at least one step up from those guys. Maberry very well may have just ruined Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn for me in one fell swoop, in fact (but again, only time will tell there, too).

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Review: Gate Crashers by Patrick S. Tomlinson [audiobook]

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Gate Crashers
By Patrick S. Tomlinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My original GATE CRASHERS audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

First contact scenarios are a common enough trope in science fiction, but Patrick S. Tomlinson manages to inject a bit of freshness and fun, and more than a few dashes of silliness, into mankind’s discovery of intelligent life out amongst the stars.

Gate Crashers feels at times like an ode to Star Trek (Tomlinson’s Captain Ridgeway of the Magellan being only a hairsbreadth away from Voyager’s Janeway, while Bucephalus‘s Captain Tiberius, a dashing man of action in and out of the bedroom, draws an obvious parallel to one James Tiberius Kirk), replete with a few away missions for our band of cosmonauts that see them tangling with strange new worlds, new life, and new civilizations, boldly going where plenty of aliens have already been before.

Despite there being a certain degree of familiarity baked in, Tomlinson still manages to do his own thing and brings in shiploads of fun along the way, playing a lot of Earth’s first expedition into deep space for laughs. The discovery of an alien artifact by the Magellan’s crew kicks off a wave of scientific advancement, as well as the emergence of an artifact worshiping cult, back on Earth. This latter development is particularly preposterous given the fairly mundane nature of the alien device, and this sense of grandiose discovery for mankind, of things that are commonplace for the galaxy’s alien races, becomes a significant theme that recurs throughout the book. There’s a fun bit of interplay between expectations of discovery and the reality of their situation, but Tomlinson injects plenty of high-stakes action, political machinations, tabloid sensationalism, and world-destroying perils along the way. The threats to mankind are deadly serious, and despite some scenes overloaded with attention-killing technobabble, the story floats along with a good degree of jubilation. Not every joke landed just right for me, but I found myself laughing along with Tomlinson’s wit more often than not. One pun about being a “seasoned veteran” still tickles me, in fact, well after having finished my listen of Gate Crashers.

While the writing is bent toward the comedic, Alyssa Bresnahan’s narration is, unfortunately, largely straight-forward. While she does an admirable job bringing the various characters to life, injecting each member of the Magellan and Bucephalus with their own distinct quirks and voices, her reading is oftentimes much too serious given the tone of the material. Quite a few times, I found myself wondering how Gate Crashers would have sounded with a narrator like Wil Wheaton at the helm, who could capture the irreverence of this particular story and Tomlinson’s writing, much as he had for several of John Scalzi’s audiobooks. Bresnahan’s narration is perfectly adept during this book’s more serious moments, and I’d like to listen to her reading a work that isn’t so reliant on humor, but she too often misses the author’s comedic beats and plays too much of a straight man to Tomlinson’s silliness. On the production end of thing, Bresnahan’s reading comes through crystal clear and Gate Crashers is another finely recorded audiobook from Recorded Books.

Gate Crashers is a fun, witty, feel-good listen, one in which its author has carefully balanced freshness and familiarity while giving us some much-welcomed insight into humanity’s perseverance and ingenuity, and more than a few well-timed fist-pumping heroics as Earth’s most evolved apes outwit far more advanced alien races by the skin of their teeth. If there are more voyages in Megellan’s future, well, beam me up! Or freeze-dry, vaporize, shift, and reconstitute me. Or whatever the hell it is they do around here…

[Note: audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]

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Review: White Death by Christine Morgan [audiobook]

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White Death
By Christine Morgan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My original WHITE DEATH audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Few things attract me to a book faster than cover art by the estimable Matthew Revert, the promise of a snowy, frozen terrain, and a wicked creature hellbent on mankind’s destruction. All three of these elements are present and accounted for in Christine Morgan’s White Death, narrated by Matt Godfrey. While there are elements of horror and the supernatural, White Death is primarily a work of historical fiction. What segments of savagery it possesses are primarily due to all-too-human factors, as well as the inhospitable climes of a killer blizzard and a long, cold winter in the Montana Territory, circa 1888.

After Pierre LeCharles’s wife falls sick, the hunter and trapper must seek out the mythical wanageeska in order to cure her. Their violent encounter early on only prompts further revenge as the unnatural wanageeska unleashes a brutal storm upon the men invading its territory, and the settlement of Far Enough soon becomes enshrouded in a blinding blizzard.

The story of LeCharles, his wife Two-Bird, and her father Runninghorse serve as a narrative framing device for the violence inflicted upon the settlers of Far Enough. Morgan gives us plenty of detail on how the men and women settlers fare this Storm of the Century in a story that strikes a powerful chord, and at its heart, this is more than merely a story of man versus the elements. This is a story of American exploration, and even exploitation, as the borders of the US expanded westward and further encroached upon Native land and settlements. The wanageeska may be a monster of myth, but its encounter with LaCharles and the Far Enough settlers serves as a powerful parable of mankind overreaching in its attempts to conquer nature. Nature is violent and toothsome, and more often then not, it can have the last say on who is really at the top of the food-chain. Spoiler alert: it ain’t us!

Morgan’s cast of characters is expansive, and oftentimes unwieldy so. Listening to White Death, I found myself repeatedly questioning who these characters were, if they were being newly introduced or had already been presented, and I simply couldn’t keep track of who was who as Morgan regularly switched up perspectives. I suspect it might be easier to follow such a large group in print, where you can flip back a few pages to refresh your memory. It didn’t help any that the characters are fairly thin in terms of development. They lack any distinguishing features or wow-moments to separate them from the pack, and most of them pretty well blurred together. The main exception was William Thorpe, the founder of Far Enough, who aims to establish the territory as a real town fueled by miners and prospectors rushing for gold and silver in the nearby mountains. Although mighty in his own mind and rich in wealth, Thorpe, too, is no match for the blizzard and the harsh winter alters him ingloriously, frighteningly violent fashion as the weather wears on.

It’s in the details of Far Enough’s settlers braving the grueling arctic snap where White Death is at its strongest. None in Far Enough are free of the wanageeska’s wrath and Morgan skillfully depicts the horrors of being caught in a blizzard, of the human body succumbing to freezing temperatures, frostbite, and fatal cases of hypothermia. While the nature of the wanageeska is mythical, the impact of the arctic horror is utterly real. Several sequences are downright brutal as Morgan describes in unflinching detail the ways in which extreme weather conditions can break down a man, woman, or child, both physically and psychically.

Equally unflinching is Matt Godfrey’s eight-hour narration. Over the course of this past year, Godfrey has become one of my favorite narrators and I trust him to deliver a crisp reading with solid production values. White Death is certainly no exception, and he exhibits a wide range of tones and character voices, hindered only by the large number of characters presented on the page. The overwhelming number of speaking parts eventually blurred together for me, until the majority of characters separated from one another only by gender.

Despite the abundance of characters, the constant rotation through which hindered my attention and made following the various threads of this story difficult in audio form, I did find plenty else to like in White Death. Fueled by Native America myth, Morgan presents a number of sequences of arctic survival horror, giving readers compelling looks at the determination of the human spirit, as well as the fragility of one’s psyche in obscenely pressing trials brought on by extreme weather. White Death may not be a consistently captivating listen, but it is most certainly a fascinating one.

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Review: Sick House by Jeff Strand [audiobook]

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Sick House
By Jeff Strand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My original SICK HOUSE audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Usually, the haunted house and the home invasion story are two separate tropes within the horror genre, although it could be argued the two certainly have a fair share of overlap, particularly in terms of how the terror is delivered. In Sick House, Jeff Strand tears down whatever walls were separating these particular types of stories to deliver a tale of a home invasion from beyond the grave, one that is, in typical Jeff Strand tradition, laced with plenty of humor in between buckets of blood and gore.

Few authors straddle the realms of comedy and horror as well as Strand, and it can be a difficult balancing act to simultaneously make a reader laugh and feel grossed out. For Strand, though, it’s a natural talent and his comedic chops are firmly on display here. Paige, the thirteen-year-old daughter of new homeowners Boyd and Adeline Gardner, is quintessentially Strand, constantly trying her parents with her outlandish, ribald commentary that leaves Boyd demanding to know, “Why are you so comfortable with me?!” The dialogue between each of Strand’s characters is witty and tack-sharp, and it’s always a pleasure to listen to the character’s conversations unfold.

This lightness, however, is offset by moments to makes you squirm and, eventually, sheer brutality. Shortly after moving into their new home, the Gardener’s begin to notice that their freshly bought groceries rot with incredible swiftness, and soon several of them become ill. Odd occurrences mark their days with increasing rapidity until the ghosts finally make their presence known and the terror sets in. Strand delivers a number of extremely well-executed and shockingly violent set pieces as the Gardener’s struggle to survive, but it comes with a minor caveat. Some of the metaphysical shenanigans got a little too cartoonish for me, but I still found Sick House to be solidly entertaining overall.

Joe Hempel’s narration is wonderfully straight-forward, which serves to help keep the material grounded. I think that a less capable narrator might be inclined to ham it up and lean hard into some of the book’s slapstick elements, but Hempel acts as the straight man to Strand’s comedic stylings. Hempel and Strand make for a great double act, and I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Joe to not crack up at some of the material he reads here. Thankfully, the narration is smooth and flawless, uninterrupted by gales of laughter and gasps of discomfort, which is left entirely up to the audience to supply.

[Note: Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]

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Review: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas [audiobook]

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Kill Creek
By Scott Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Scott Thomas makes one hell of a horror debut with his Stoker Award-nominated haunted house novel, Kill Creek - so strong a debut that I found it hard to believe he's a first-time author. Turns out, Thomas has a bit of a pedigree in television and was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the R.L. Stine TV series, The Haunting Hour. While Kill Creek is his first novel, Thomas definitely knows his way around a horror story, and his work here carries a nicely cinematic style with more than a few movie-ready scenes and set pieces.

After being duped into agreeing to an interview by an Internet website mogul, four authors find themselves unwittingly gathered together for an overnight stay at the abandoned and decrepit Finch House. For the wealthy Wainwright, this is a chance to speak to his idols, the modern masters of horror, and rake in lots of lucrative web-clicks. For the authors, it's a gimmicky way to promote their work, score some quick cash, and waste a night in a supposedly haunted house before returning to their lives, check in hand. If you know your way around a haunted house story, I don't have to tell you that things don't go quite according to plan...

Thankfully, Thomas throws in a few juicy curveballs here and there, slowly inching his narrative toward a finale of all-consuming madness that chills in all the best and brutal ways. Thomas, however, knows that he has to earn the premise's payoff, and he spends a lot of time building up his central cast. While the focus is on Sam McGarver, the most Everyman horror author of the bunch, characters like TC Moore, Sebastian Cole, and Daniel Slaughter - a horror-ready name if ever there was one - carry enough personality and intrigue to keep this slow-burn narrative hustling along. Moore, in fact, was my favorite character in this story - a brash, take-no-prisoners attitude, whiskey swilling, tough gal are always right up my alley narratively-speaking, and her introduction immediately captivated me.

Although it's become rather cliche to have a horror author as the protagonist of a horror novel, it works surprisingly well here. Usually the protag's occupation is ancillary, but in Kill Creek it's a primary focus and a linchpin for the work itself. Thomas is clearly well-versed in horror and genre tropes, as well as the career of writing and some of its more self-depreciating aspects. At one point, McGarver jokes that he's a writer, which means he spends most of his time procrastinating on the Internet. But it's his introduction as a college lecturer, wherein he delivers a presentation on gothic literature to his students, that makes a solid argument toward the credibility of not only McGarver's skill as an author, but Thomas's as well. The fact that Thomas creates this band of authors is one thing; the fact that he created them with such attention toward their pedigree and bibliographies is another. It's common to see horror authors experiencing a real-life horror event in fiction, but this is probably the first time I've wanted to actually read these fictional author's works. I wish I could buy a TC Moore book for my Kindle right now, or dig into a Sebastian Cole book next, and that alone should speak volumes to how much I appreciated Thomas's character work here.

Narrating Kill Creek is Bernard Setaro Clark, and hot damn, he's a fine reader. While much of his delivery is direct, Clark has a few aural tricks up his sleeve that really impressed me. Clark knows when to act up the material a bit, changing tones and pitch, and sometimes flat-out shouting, when needed. He also pulls this nifty trick of creating spatial distance between characters by turning away from the microphone at certain points. Say a character is shouting from across the room - rather than speaking directly into the mike as he would for our POV character, Clark turns away slightly, giving a sense of depth to sell the impression that there really is a character yelling from across the rom. It's such a simple thing, but so well executed, and not something I've often heard in other audiobooks. Of course, it's also possible I'm easily impressed, but I appreciated these moments a heck of a lot when they occurred. Clark's narrative skills certainly get a workout in the book's climax, as McGarver and company are forced to contend with the threats lurking within the Finch House once and for all.

Kill Creek isn't just a mighty fine haunted house novel, but a wickedly impressive debut for its author, who manages to wring the story for all its worth and deliver some pleasantly shocking twists along the way. This sucker builds like a roller coaster, slowly ratcheting its way to the top, and then violently dropping readers down a twisting thrill-ride that pulls their stomach up their throats. To put it mildly and succinctly, Kill Creek fucking rocks.

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Review: The Bog by Michael Talbot [audiobook]

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The Bog
By Michael Talbot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My original THE BOG audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

The Bog is an old-school work of 1980s quiet horror. Michael Talbot slowly sets the stage, introducing archaeologist David Macauley and his family living abroad in the UK on a research grant. David specializes in studying bogs, particularly the corpses found preserved within. In a small English village, David uncovers not just a spate of bog bodies, but colorful legends – legends that point toward the true nature of an ancient evil responsible for the death of the bodies he is now unearthing. As readers slowly settle in for what first appears to be a creature feature, Talbot serves up a few interesting twists alongside a couple doses of personal tragedy and plenty of foreboding dread.

One of the things I most appreciated about The Bog was Talbot’s plotting. Even the most seemingly insignificant plot points and character beats play into the larger narrative and receive certain payoffs as the story resolves. A character’s veganism, a child’s fascination with the word ‘moxie’, a tavern’s clienteles apprehension over the appearance of a moth all lead to larger elements within the story, and the introduction of these minor points help to, in various ways, bring The Bog full-circle by book’s end. Throughout the story, Talbot introduces a number of concepts that I enjoyed quite a bit, particularly in regards to the nature of the evil infecting the small hamlet Macauley and his family find themselves inhabiting, which dovetails nicely with David’s work as a historian and scholar.

Reissued by Valancourt, The Bog is narrated by Matt Godfrey. I’ve only recently become familiar with Godfrey’s work, but he’s quickly earned with me the reputation of being a solid reader. I can expect a natural delivery complemented by subtle performances and distinct voice-work for each of the characters. In that regard, The Bog meets expectations. Each of the male and female characters presented here is clearly delineated and unmistakably unique. Listening to this book through my car’s audio system during my daily commute, I could not detect any flaws in the audio production, and the sound is crisp, clean, and well-modulated.

Readers looking for some high-end 80s horror should find a lot to enjoy in Talbot’s work. While The Bog is a bit of a slow-burn, it is ultimately quite enjoyable. Patient readers will be greatly rewarded by the way certain puzzle pieces of the plot align and snap into place as the story progresses.

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Audiobook Review: Night Society by Ambrose Ibsen

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Night Society
By Ambrose Ibsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My original NIGHT SOCIETY audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Walking past an abandoned house, Mike is struck with inspiration to form a small club called the Night Society. He and his friends, Russell and Jim, agree to take part, and the plan is to break into the house and scare one with another with a spooky game of show and tell. During their inaugural meeting, Russell plays for them a CD of an audio file he downloaded from a torrent site, filling the house with the noise of a woman’s brutal murder. In the days that follow, the three men are witness to sights they cannot explain and they begin to realize they are being haunted by the victim whose violent death they had recently listened to.

Although I had initially suspected Night Society of being little more than an imitative riff on The Ring, Ambrose Ibsen does a fine job taking this story in a novel direction after building up a number of suspenseful scenes, along with a few moments of genuine creepiness, pushing the narrative toward a downbeat and desolate finale that works suitably well. Although Night Society isn’t particularly groundbreaking or original, Ibsen arranges the story’s familiar tropes in some crafty ways and kept me engaged. A lot of this engagement stems from his three central characters, whose point of view Ibsen alternates between from one chapter to the next in round-robin fashion. Each are affable losers content to lazily coast through life with little in the way of aim, with Jim being the group’s resident jackass and quick to chide Russell, a man-child whose apartment contains far more role play games and miniature statues than furniture. Mike is the most level-headed, but the strain that follows their first disastrous meeting of the Night Society becomes readily apparent over the course of this audiobook’s not-quite six-hour runtime.

Having listened to a number of Joe Hempel’s prior readings, Night Society fully met my expectations on the narration front. Hempel has a natural style, and his narration always makes for a smooth, easy listen. The production is professionally handled with no hiccups to speak of, and the audio is crisp and clear.

Night Society was my first encounter with Ibsen, and although it’s not a particularly unique or original find within the horror genre it is solidly entertaining and kept me interested throughout. I’ve little doubt that I will be giving this author another look in the future; in fact, knowing that Hempel has narrated a number of Ibsen’s other titles makes it a downright certainty.

[Audiobook provided for review by the audiobookreviewer.com]

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