Wednesday, April 23, 2014

When Horror Speaks, The Darkness Listens...
Audiobook Reviews by Anthony Servante

Nightworld: The Adversary Cycle, Book 6
[Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]


Written by F. Paul Wilson


Narrated by Christopher Price



"This is the way the world ends…not with a bang but a scream in the dark.

It begins at dawn, when the sun rises late. Then the holes appear. The first forms in Central Park, in sight of an apartment where Repairman Jack and a man as old as time watch with growing dread. Gaping holes, bottomless and empty…until sundown, when the first unearthly, hungry creatures appear.

Nightworld brings F. Paul Wilson’s Adversary Cycle and Repairman Jack saga to an apocalyptic finale as Jack and Glaeken search the Secret History to gather a ragtag army for a last stand against the Otherness and a hideously transformed Rasalom" (Amazon).



Clocking in at seven hours, forty-four minutes, and fifty-four seconds, Nightworld, the audiobook, finalizes the Adversary Cycle series that started with The Keep in 1981, the story of NAZIs fighting off an evil presence at a small castle during World War Two. That presence triggered a "dreaded epiphany", Wilson's words for an inspiration that turns a simple story into a complex one and the woe that follows the author who is at the mercy of the muse to write it. 

The Paperback Edition

And 'complex' is the perfect word for the AC series, which to this day continues with the Repairman Jack series, the Repairman Jack: Early Years Trilogy, and assorted short stories that make up the "Grand Unification" theme that connects Wilson's books to the AC. Nightworld wraps up the series, but Wilson continues to find "epiphanies" to connect more of his non-AC books to the AC. 

First Repairman Jack

But I digress. This is not a review of the novel or the series. We are here to discuss the audiobook of this classic story, and I use the word 'classic' in all modesty, because I think it is one of the Top Ten Horror books of all time, if not thee Horror Book of all time. So, does the audiobook live up to the novel? That's the question.

Rasalom Returns

Nightworld is one of those books that should not be heard without having first read it. Christopher Price has a pleasant enough voice for the story narrative, but as a hardcore fan of the AC series, I have developed a voice in my head over the reading of the complete series, a voice that F. Paul Wilson's prose help to create. From The Keep to The Tomb, The Touch, Reborn, Reprisal, and finally Nightworld, Paul's prose and story-telling voice was how I heard and "saw" the tale unfold in my mind's ear and eye. It is almost a letdown to hear a new voice telling the story, even as professional as Mr. Price's voice is at narration. 

The turning point for the AC

I've spoken with Paul on several occasions and have heard him tell anecdotes over the years. Even then he spoke with that prose-y voice. I'm sure I'm not the first and won't be the last who won't wonder how the audiobook would have sounded had Paul read the narrative himself, capturing that voice in his own head that sent the signals to his fingertips to tap on the keys that would write the words in ink, retelling the story with the same inflections, voice cadence, and tonal shifts that were in his mind's eye and ear. And I'm sure there's a reason out there explaining why Paul chose not to narrate the AC books, even if it was just Nightworld. I should have followed up on this reason before writing this review. But alas...

Dat Tay Vao

What I did enjoy with the Christopher Price reading was the pronunciation of those names (Dat-tay-vao, for one), names I have been mispronouncing for years. We see the words in ink for a long time (I've read Nightworld three times, the only book I've read more than twice) and imagine a pronunciation, and it sticks with one throughout the series. I was pleased to hear the correct pronunciation of the names of characters and events. Still, Price's voice interpretations were entertaining, but Glaeken sounded a bit too old and Repairman Jack a bit too ordinary. But how should they sound? I suppose I should tell you an anecdote at this point. In Peanuts, the comic strip, Lucy is at the podium honoring Snoopy. She says, "He isn't much of a dog, but then, who is?" That's how the interpretations should sound. Meaning, of course, that Price gave an enormously adequate narration of a fantastic book, and I am honored to have heard his reading of one of my favorite books. But I didn't so much hear the book as I heard another interpretation, one that invited comparisons as I listened. How would Anthony Hopkins have read it? Or Samuel L. Jackson? Price did the best possible job he could to tell the story, but Nightworld was way out of his depth, and he couldn't do it justice, but who could? as Lucy might ask rhetorically.

A Rakosh

Well, for this reader, to answer the rhetoric question: No one could do it justice. Maybe not even F. Paul Wilson himself. But now that I've finished talking for myself as a hardcore (and jealously selfish) fan of F. Paul Wilson's work, let me set aside my favoritism and speak to the first-timers looking for a good book to listen to. If you haven't read Nightworld, or any of the Adversary Cycle books, you would be able to follow this story and enjoy the enormity of the tale, filled with monsters of every size and shape, and the world of mankind on the brink of extinction. The epic tale is captured by Christopher Price in his amazing reading, and when I allowed my prejudices to slip, the narration was spot-on. An easy reading that allows you to flow gently on a suspension of disbelief and hit walls of fear and dread as the story unfolds, as the nights grow longer and the days shorter, as the creatures from the "Otherness" crescendo in fierceness with the lengthening darkness. The reading captures the urgency and maintains the suspense as we wait for each dawn and experience the same dread as the characters who understand that the evil Rasalom is on his way, the ultimate creature that combines all the Hells and all the Devils of all religions into one single malevolent entity. You will know fear. Because that's what Nightworld brings. 

A Chew Wasp

So, as a fan of the AC series, I appreciated Christopher Price's valiant effort to capture the epic tale for hardcore fans, but we are voracious and insatiable for the Grand Unification. However, acquainted readers and first-time readers of the AC series couldn't choose a better audiobook to begin with than Nightworld. Even as you listen to the ending of the series, you will be introduced to all the parts of the AC, and then you can work your way backward towards The Keep, or forward to the Repairman Jack series. Either way, read the book aloud to yourself or listen to the Christopher Price version. Just leap into Nightworld, feet first. 

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