Welcome to my new weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Getting used to a narrator
Last week I shared by audiobook review of Written in Red, and I gave narrator Alexandra Harris a C+ for her performance. This week, I bring to you my review of the second book in The Others series, Murder of Crows, also narrated by Ms. Harris. This time around, I found I enjoyed her delivery more, and it even felt “natural” and “the right fit” during many moments.
I’ve found in general that even if I don’t love the performance of a narrator the first time, their interpretation of the characters tends to grow on me throughout the book, and even more with subsequent titles in a series. Why is this? Does the performance truly get better with each book? Sometimes, yes. I noticed that with Holter Graham’s interpretation of Native American Charles from the Alpha and Omega series. Graham slightly altered his performance between titles and created a better voice for the primary character.
Other times, I think my improved rating of a narrator is because, for better or for worse, after listening to a couple of books, that narrator’s voice becomes the character for me. I think that’s true with The Others series. While I didn’t love the narration the first time around, I found that Harris’s voice for Meg became so familiar to me that it was soothing in many ways, and I can’t imagine anyone else in the roll.
There are times when narrators do become more annoying upon subsequent listens. For example, I am currently listening to the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost and narrated by Tavia Gilbert. Overall, I enjoy her work, but Gilbert’s voice for Cat’s mom grinds on me, and only gets worse with each listen. However, her character is also annoying, so maybe that is the point!
Whatever the reason, generally once I hear a narrator read a book in a series, I tend to enjoy his/her performance more with each subsequent title.
Audiobook review: Murder of Crows
Author: Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: The Others #2
Murder of Crows is the second tale from the wickedly interesting world created by Ms. Bishop. Directly following the conclusion of the first book, Written in Red, the story focuses on the Lakeside Courtyard, its human and Other residents, and how life is changing because of the Blood Prophet, Meg Corbyn. I strongly suggest reading the first book in the series prior to this one, due to the intricacies of the world and the depth of the histories of the well-developed characters.
Like its predecessor, Murder of Crows is a deeply involving book, told from multiple points-of-view, to include a few Others, multiple humans, and even the villains. Although the POVs change frequently, the story doesn’t jump around. The story flows from scene to scene and person to person naturally, and this method of storytelling provides a marvelously rounded picture of all that is happening.
One thing that I didn’t care for about the book was the level of gruesome acts and violence against women. While not graphic in nature, there are parts of the story that gave me pause and horrified me. In the end, it didn’t diminish the quality of the work, but while listening, there were times I needed a break from the story. These parts are few and far between, but there were enough for me to make note of it.
Due to the extensive nature of the book, it wouldn’t do justice to try and highlight the various storylines. While many of the plots are shown to intertwine and conclude by the end of the book, there are a couple, such as Lt. Sgt. Montgomery’s ex and daughter and the humans first and last movement, that are left unfinished. It is clear that the world is heading for war, and I just hope that the bits and pieces dropped into this story are picked up in the forthcoming book, Vision in Silver (March 2015).
Probably my favorite aspect of the story is watching how Simon (the wolf) and Meg (a non-edible human) learn from and about each other. Their growing friendship is both touching and sweet. Due to its unusual nature, the pair has learned to take time to listen to the other. Their communication is developing, creating a solid base, even though neither is sure what is happening. I also enjoy how this friendship is translating into a larger trust between some of the Others and humans. This, coupled Meg’s own personal growth as she learns how to live outside the compound and abuse of the Controller, gives the story heart.
Listening to this, the second book narrated by Alexandra Harris, I found myself more used to her idiosyncrasies, including her slower pace and her odd voice for Simon. I found comfort in the familiar and so, while the narration isn’t remarkable, it isn’t horrible, either. I was able to look past the issues I had with the narration more than in the first novel.
Overall, Murder of Crows is a well-written, intense and engrossing fantasy.
Rating of the story: B
Rating of the narration: B-