Between Two Fires by Christopher Buehlman, Narrated by Steve West

Christopher Buehlman’s Between Two Fires transports readers to the region now known as France during the peak of the Black Death. The world was ending. Sickness had emptied whole villages, leaving nothing behind but decaying remnants and ghosts that haunted the vacant homes. The survivors, few and far between, were living through horrors no one had ever seen. Amid this nightmare of disease and human predation, a war unlike any witnessed on Earth was taking place. This tableau of terror, both human and spiritual, is the world Buehlman brings to life.
When Thomas, a crude and disgraced knight, takes it upon himself to shelter and protect a young girl–who knows things she should not know and sees things others cannot see–he knows he’s set himself on a path that might end in tragedy. But nothing can prepare him for the madness and cruelty awaiting them on their journey to Avignon.
The boundaries of reality are repeatedly blurred throughout the narrative, forcing the reader to question–as Thomas does–whether he’s awake or dreaming. The dead haunt the living, tormenting them with cruel assertions and distorted recollections of the past. Ghosts appear and disappear, leaving us to wonder which of these apparitions are truly beyond the veil, and which are drawn from the memories of Thomas and the weary priest who joins him on his quest.
Will the trio arrive where they intend, or will the gates of Hell await them instead. Is there a difference?
Steve West narrated this audiobook almost perfectly. The delivery of dialogue and narrative components were both handled with great attention to detail. The narration was almost as gripping as the story itself.

The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman, Narrated by Christopher Buehlman

While Christopher Buehlman doesn’t add anything new to the heavily-tread mythology of the vampire, what he does provide us with is a fresh and captivating story with characters that come to life–or undeath–and a gritty 1970s New York that feels tangible, even if we do spend a significant amount of our time in the sewers and subway tunnels beneath the city itself. The admittedly unreliable narration of the tale from Joseph H. Peacock is both entertaining and, at times, depressingly bleak.
A spoiled child from an affluent family in the early 20th century, Joey was accustomed to getting what he wanted, and when his mother insists that the cook who adores him has to go, Joey doesn’t take kindly to the replacement. A successfully implemented plan to remove the new cook from his household triggers the cascade of events that leads to Joey becoming a vampire at the young age of 14.
Forty years later, Joey lives beneath Manhattan with an eclectic assortment of other vampires when he first sees the children mesmerizing their victims on the subway. Concerned with the hazard these child vampires pose, Joey’s undead family begins the hunt for these strange and unexpected creatures. Monstrous, cruel, and driven by a sort of nightmarish glee, the children represent a greater threat than any of the other vampires imagined.
Buehlman weaves a fantastically disarming narrative filled with twists and turns that keep the reader reeling. Characters are developed only for the reader to discover that they have to dispel what they thought they knew. Minor details take on sinister connotations as new information gets revealed.
As a narrator for his book, Buehlman displays a keen talent for accents and speech patterns, thoroughly gifting his characters with distinct personalities that come through the tone and inflection of his voice. I’ve heard lower-quality narration from numerous “professional” narrators and voice actors in the past.

In Blood by The Professor

In Blood immerses us within an epistolary horror penned by Sir Henry Irving, owner of the Lyceum Theatre, to his friend and assistant, Bram Stoker. It is a tale of murder, insidious plots, and the evolution of what would become Dracula.
It all revolves around a Masonic conspiracy surrounding the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, his part in the pregnancy of a Catholic girl of low birth, and the prostitutes murdered by Jack the Ripper. As our narrator describes it, his authentically terrified performances in Macbeth are informed and influenced by an all-too-real haunting wherein he sees the deceased ladies of the night in place of the three witches on stage with him.
From there, he finds himself driven by strange and monstrous compulsions and a need to witness unspeakable things in an appalling attempt at method acting. As his missive to Stoker continues, it becomes clear that something awful has awakened within him, leading inexorably down the path toward damnation and inhuman brutality.
The Professor’s narration of this sordid tale makes the story all the more compelling, its deranged and lunatic protagonist leaping from the page in such a way that the listener feels his frantic, unhinged need propelling the narrative forward. The strangely beautiful prose comes to life in cruel, vivid detail as the exquisitely described savagery spirals out of control.

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