Is it safe to come out?

A Reader's Respite has been in hiding for the past week or so.  With Book Blogger Appreciation Week inundating blog-world, we thought we'd do you the huge favor of not contributing to your over-flowing feed reader this past week.  So go ahead and appreciate that.  You're welcome.  (Do we get an award for that?)

It appears that a good time was had by all and since that is the entire purpose of BBAW, we can safely declare 2010 a success.  Congratulations to all the winners this year!

And if you subject yourself to the random and bitchy musings left on Facebook by A Reader's Respite, you'll know that there was another compelling reason for our absence.....

Yes, we decided to allow a mad scientist the opportunity to shoot laser beams directly into our eyeballs just for kicks and giggles.

Okay, so it wasn't a scientist, it was really a board-certified opthamologist and he wasn't really mad (just a tad cranky).  And it wasn't just any old laser beams, it was LASIK surgery.  And he transformed our vision from this:

into this:

Technically speaking, the mad opthamologist gave us 20/15 vision, but we won't quibble over details.  Anyhoo, we have needed this past week to recuperate from having our eyeballs lasered into.  Recovery has included no television (not a problem), no computer usage (tad bit of a problem), and no reading.  (GASP!)

So how did we spend our time (besides cheating on the computer thing here and there....shhh, don't tell my mad doctor)?

Audiobooks.  We knew we'd have to download about a bazillion of them in order to make it through.  We remembered a recommendation written a couple of weeks ago by Reader for Life which extolled the virtues of Danish author Christian Moerk's novel, Darling Jim, and this was #1 on our list.

Audiobooks are really, if the truth be known, two reviews rolled into one.  At one end of the spectrum is a review of the actual content of the book itself....plot, characterization, dialogue, etc.  At the other end is a review of the presentation, or the narrator. 

A Reader's Respite has always found it amusing that while a good novel cannot recover from a bad narrator, a bad novel can certainly be redeemed by a good narrator.  Darling Jim is blessed with both a good story with good narration. Two narrators, actually. 

Stephen Hoye, a prolific audiobook narrator whose credits include Flags of Our Fathers and The Book of Air and Shadows reads the main of the story here, in which an Irish postal worker accidentally discovers the diary of a notorious murderess who was later herself murdered under horrific circumstances.

Stephen Hoye, winner of 13 Earphones Awards and 2 Audie Awards

The narrator chosen to read the discovered diaries - for more are discovered throughout the novel - was Justine Eyre, who has lent her lilting voice to The Historian and most recently to Dracula, My Love.  Eyre won an Earphones Award (her second!) for her performance in Darling Jim.

Justine Eyre

A Reader's Respite thought Eyre's voice one of the most beautiful, enchanting ever piped over the airwaves, making us feel as if we were sitting in a small pub in Ireland, listening to a local tell us the story.  Hoye's narration was a tad more dramatic (you can go here to listen to a sample of his narration in Darling Jim), with a tendency to draw out the last syllable of each sentence, but compelling nonetheless. 

All nuances of narration aside, author Moerk is simply a damned good story teller.  This tale of gothic suspense, set in a small Irish town, requires the reader to suspend disbelief, as do all good yarns.  And an old-fashioned story is what this is, keeping you on the edge of your seat just dying (no pun intended) to find out what happens next. 

If you're looking for a good creepy gothic-ish tale complete with a handsome, dastardly stranger who mysteriously appears in town only to insidiously destroy an entire family, all wrapped up with a special twist, you'll likely enjoy reading (or listening) to Darling Jim this Halloween.

Title:  Darling Jim
Author:  Christian Moerk
Narrators:  Stephen Hoye and Justine Eyre
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hours 31 Minutes
ISBN:  978-1400111985
Source:  Purchased from Audible
Grade:  A

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