Camrose Public Library

Audio File Episode 1: Spooky Season

October 14, 2021 Camrose Public Library Season 4 Episode 1
Camrose Public Library
Audio File Episode 1: Spooky Season
Show Notes Transcript

Welcome to Audio File, a podcast dedicated to providing audiobook recommendations from Camrose Public Library’s collection. In our first episode, we recommend four titles with a spooky theme in honor of Halloween, though these books can be enjoyed whenever. Thanks for listening! 

Hello everyone and welcome to Audio File, a Camrose Public Library podcast series. On this podcast, we recommend audiobooks that are truly music to the ears and available right here at CPL. Today’s episode will focus on four titles with some spooky tones in honor of Halloween. But these audiobooks are so fantastic, you can enjoy them at any time of year.

First off, we have the adult fantasy Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. 

Ninth House is a dark and gritty tale, intense but phenomenal. There’s ghosts, magic, and murder lurking around every corner. This tale is so good that it’s even been picked up by Amazon to be made into a television series, though no word as of yet for when that will be released. The 2019 Macmillan Audio production of Ninth House brings the story of Alex to life with narrators Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell. Fortgang does a tremendous job with the source material with tones and inflections that suit the characters and situations to a tee. As a narrator, Fortgang has contributed her voice to over 300 audiobooks as a solo act or as part of a larger cast and her professionalism shines through here to provide a quality experience. Axtell also brings his skills to the table to make for a good companion to Fortgang. If you’re looking for a dark fantasy with a healthy dose of mystery, try Ninth House. Please note that this story contains depictions and discussions of violence, substance abuse, suicide, and sexual assault; if you are sensitive to these topics, please proceed with caution.

Next up we have the Young Adult, contemporary fantasy The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them --not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can't entirely explain. He has it all-family money, good looks, devoted friends-but he's looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.
For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

The story itself is a mix of love, friendship, and mystery that will keep your earphones glued to your head. Stiefvater’s prose has a natural rhythm and she makes her characters both interesting and entirely human. This is the first story in the Raven Cycle series, which is comprised of four stories, so there is plenty more where this came from. The 2012 Scholastic Audio production of the Raven Boys has Will Patton as a narrator who really knocks this tale of ghosts and romance right out of the park. Patton’s voice is pleasant to the ear and his skill in differentiating the characters from one another is evident. If you’re in the mood for a tale of romance and secrecy, check out The Raven Boys. 

Then, we have Adult Horror story The Hunger by Alma Katsu. {Description] Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere. That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy...or the feelings that someone--or something--is stalking them. 

Whether it's a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history. As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains...and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.  

The Hunger is a slow-paced, deeply unsettling version of a true story. The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers who migrated, or rather tried to migrate, to California in 1846. Forty-eight members of the original eighty-seven made it to California and the hardships they experienced along the way are nothing short of staggering. While this is a fictionalization of events, only some of the horrors needed to be fabricated as the lengths the party went to in order to keep themselves alive are chilling, to say the least. Katsu has done a fantastic job of weaving details to support the framework of the tragedy by creating characters you both grow to care for and grow to hate.  I would recommend not looking into the details of the real events in order to maintain suspense, but knowing the facts won’t diminish Katsu’s storytelling if you’re simply too curious to not give it a Google. 

The 2018 Penguin Random House Audio production has Kirsten (Kiersten) Potter as the narrator. Potter’s voice effortlessly bring the eerie, disquieting story to life and will make you glance around the room more than once to make sure you’re really alone. She is an excellent representation of the characters, particularly Tamsen. The story’s pace is slow, but Potter does a good job of keeping the listener invested and moving through the events without the listener getting bored.  If you’re looking for a dark tale with a shadow of truth to it, consider The Hunger.

Lastly, we have the Non-Fiction memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. Armed with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre, Caitlin Doughty took a job at a crematory and turned morbid curiosity into her life’s work. She cared for bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, and became an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. In this best-selling memoir, brimming with gallows humor and vivid characters, she marvels at the gruesome history of undertaking and relates her unique coming-of-age story with bold curiosity and mordant wit. By turns hilarious, dark, and uplifting, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes reveals how the fear of dying warps our society and "will make you reconsider how our culture treats the dead" (San Francisco Chronicle).

Doughty’s prose will push you from laughing to crying to pensive consideration all in one chapter. Her work is accessible, informative, and far from a dry meditation on the heavy subject of life and death. The 2014 Recorded Books and One Click Digital production of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes has Doughty herself as the narrator of the text, which gives the memoir that personal touch and puts emphasis in all the right places. Having an author read their own work can sometimes not be the best choice, but there’s no danger of that here. Doughty has a great speaking voice and could find work as a voice actor if her job as a mortician falls through. This audiobook is a relatively short, though not exactly sweet, discussion on death in the United States (and I would venture to include Canada) and one woman’s journey through the funerary world. Doughty asks us to look in the face a topic that is often pushed under the metaphorical rug and allows us to satisfy our morbid curiosity on what happens after we die, at least when it comes to what we leave behind. If you’re looking for a funny, yet frank memoir with a splash of the macabre, try Smoke Gets In your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory. 

That’s it for this episode of Audio File. All the audiobooks discussed here are available at Camrose Public Library in either audio CD or downloadable audio format. Thanks very much for listening and remember to stay curious.