Audiobook review: Myst and Ink by HD Smith
In a far distant future, humans have left Old Earth and established the Known Worlds. The planets are dominated by powerful familial houses, each with its own commerce specialty. And on these new planets, the humans discovered they can perform magic using a substance known as Myst.
Genevieve (Gen) is one of the mundane who cannot perform magic. She’s tired of being a lab rat: lowest person on the roster. She uses a glitch in her tech to assign herself to a comfortable new job but soon discovers secrets that some will kill to keep buried. Liam is a purveyor of Old Earth relics. He enjoys his life but is hiding a huge secret. When his hunt causes him to cross paths with Gen, he learns there is more at stake than someone discovering his true identity.
Myst and Ink is an entertaining and adventurous start to what promises to be an exciting series. Although it took some time to fully get into the story and understand some of the terms, settings, etc., I found the story completely engaging. The author sets up her universe via the third person POVs of two MCs, Gen and Liam. At first the two seem to have nothing in common, but as the story plays out, the author shares how the two are connected. There is a conspiracy that Gen and Liam each begin to uncover, and then together, they put the pieces together. In only a couple short days, both of their lives are forever changed.
The author doesn’t dwell on what Myst is, where it comes from, how is was discovered, etc. But we learn it is critical to every day living in the Known Worlds. We don’t know exactly why everyone abandoned Old Earth, but we know things had gotten bad. The book has an impressive amount of “sci-fi,” with lots of Myst-powered technology. I did get a bit confused at times with the grandness of the political machinations and players. But by the end, I think I had it all straighten out.
The plot of Myst and Ink is filled with action and intrigue, most of which builds up over the course of the story and crescendos with some pretty big revelations. What I enjoyed most is that the characters drive the story. We get to know Gen and Liam, their fears and dreams. I want them to succeed, especially when the outcome seems dim.
Narration: The story is performed by “Mike” an auto-narrated “AI.” While the voice is pleasing and there is adequate modulation to give it a conversational feel, it comes off very robotic. The same voice is used for both POVs and all dialogue, making everyone sounds the same. While there is adequate inflection to match punctuation, the emotional component is flat. Often the pauses are off. For example, “ugh…. Kill me now!” was “ughkillmenow.” The robotic feel and singular voice, along with a lack of dialogue tags (sometimes), made it difficult to follow conversations, especially when there were more than two people. Also, when the author notes something about the voice condition (his voice was deep, her voice was changing), the listener is just told, not “shown” since the narrator doesn’t change voice. In the end, the auto-narration comes off like a glorified text to speech. It’s not unlistenable, but it’s not the same as an actually professional narrator. I would much prefer a performance with altered dialogue and real emotion.
*EDITED TO ADD* After I listened to the original audiobook version of this title, the author updated the narration, which includes a different voice for the Gen POVs and additional voices for a “full cast” experience. The book is still auto-narrated. I was able to listen to a few small samples, and while the narration still comes off slightly robotic and mostly emotionally flat, the different voices would address some of my concerns, especially with the confusion during dialogue.
In the end, Myst and Ink is original and exciting. I love all the Myst-infused tech. It’s a great blend of magic and science. The story is far from over, and I can’t wait to find out more!
About the Book:
Old Earth, the once-great planet of humankind, is a derelict wasteland of an ancient civilization.
Genevieve Harlow lives a mundane life on planet Tau as one of the working class forced to do as her House commands. Her lack of magical aptitude and orphan status make any advancement impossible. The House elites know nothing of Genevieve’s life—why would they—until she stumbles on a secret that will change the nine worlds forever.
Liam Anderson, an elite of unknown lineage, makes a living as a relic hunter and purveyor of ancient goods. Some call it smuggling, but the laws are vague at best. But Liam is in the wrong place at the wrong time when his fate becomes intertwined with Genevieve’s, putting both their lives in danger. He’s running from more than his past, but Genevieve’s secret is greater than either of them can possibly imagine.
More than one House will do anything to keep them quiet.
Myst and Ink is the first in a series of books that blend magic and technology, set 800 years in the future where the Earth has been abandoned for new worlds.
Author: HD Smith
Narrator: Mike (Auto-Narrated)
Series: Myst and Ink #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Audiobook Release Date: November 5, 2022
Publisher: Wild Fey LLC
Length: 9 Hours; 40 mins
Audio Speed: 1.3x-1.35x