October 25, 2013

A Quick Death, but a Good One: a review of "Exquisite Death" (audiobook)

Exquisite Death
featuring Benjamin Ethridge, Cate Gardner, Anthony J. Rapino, Todd Keisling, and Mercedes Yardley
narrated by George E. Leonard and Ian Baldwin
1 hr. 25 min.

It's kind of weird for me, as I am a voracious reader and a podcast junkie, but it's only recently that I started listening to audiobooks with any regularity. And I don't think I have ever reviewed an audiobook on the blog, so when I was offered a copy of this little anthology for review, I decided it was about time to remedy that oversight.

Exquisite Death is made up of six short stories, alternately narrated by George E. Leonard and Ian Baldwin (one of them is apparently female judging by the notably feminine voice, just don't ask me which one). And the contributing authors are very familiar to me save for Todd Keisling, a new name to me, but a guy who wrote a really cool story called "Radio Free Nowhere" for this collection.

A couple of the stories were ones I had already read previously, those being Cate Gardner's "Apheliac" and Anthony J. Rapino's "The Plumber." Between those two tales right there, you can really get a sense of the shared theme of death, as well as the notably divergent styles of each author.

Ethridge's "Chester" kicked things off really nicely with a tale told from a dog's point of view. It started off a little weird, a little disorienting, but it didn't take long for things to turn really, really creepy. The next two were Cate Gardner's stories, and she might be one of the most lyrical writers I've read, certainly of this collection. It's always a treat--and a wee bit of a mind warp--to read her work. And like I mentioned earlier, "Radio Free Nowhere" by Todd Keisling serves well as an introduction to Todd's work, but it was also the story that really exposed the narrator's less than convincing American accents. At the risk of sounding mean, I laughed out loud when the especially southern-fried accent started.

Accents aside, the narrators do a really good job capturing the tone and pacing of each story. I'm also a sucker for a British accent. Something about proper English just really amplifies a horror story, I find. As far as the audiobook format goes, my only gripe would be the absence of bookmarks with MP3 files. If a listener wants to revisit a specific story after listening to the book in full, they'll have to navigate it manually, sliding the media player's progress bar and just hoping for the best. Ugh, first world problems, right?

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