The Damned Ones by Chris Miller, Narrated by Daniel Caravetta

The Damned Ones picks up the threads left behind by The Damned Place 26 years after the horrific conclusion in the forest outside of Winnsboro, TX. The four children have grown up and gone their separate ways, largely relegating the memories of that fateful–and fatal–day to their nightmares. And while they’ve mostly forced themselves to forget what happened, believing it to be a thing of the past, The Glutton has not forgotten, and neither has Jake Reese, still trapped in the dying world where Jim Dalton had left him.
When a woman disappears, and her distraught mother calls the police, it’s Chief Jim Dalton who answers the call. Signs of violence point toward something awful happening in the woman’s apartment, and it’s only the first of many terrible disappearances to plague Winnsboro, all having something to do with Norman Reese, Jake’s younger brother. No less mad, and driven by religious fervor and the pressure of a tumor in his brain, Norman might be precisely what The Glutton needs to force his way into our world.
Jim, Honey, Ryan, and Freddie must come together again to face the monster they hoped they’d left in another world before our world becomes a desolate and dying place as well.
Chris Miller raises the stakes and ramps up the violence for his follow-up to The Damned Place, pulling no punches as he lays out the welcome mat for The Glutton to join us in rural Texas. Mysterious disappearances and secrets from the past have managed to fester long enough that the abscess on the edge of our universe has no choice but to burst and fill our world with its infected burden.
Daniel Caravetta again provides excellent narration for the audiobook, following the children seamlessly into adulthood and bringing their deeply embedded trauma to life. Norman’s harsh and nasal shrieking dialogue was exceptional, and stood out as a high point in the narration.


The Damned Place by Chris Miller, Narrated by Daniel Caravetta

The Damned Place could be considered the spiritual successor to Stephen King’s IT, transported into the 1990s from the 1960s of King’s pivotal masterpiece. Coming of age tales are a familiar substrate upon which horror authors can build a significant sense of dread and high stakes, relatable terror–after all, we were all children once upon a time, complete with imaginations and an unflappable sense of our own invulnerability. Some attempts are more successful than others, and Chris Miller’s foray into the subgenre is massively successful.
Deep in the woods is a dilapidated house with a history so unspeakably awful that almost no one in the nearby town of Winnsboro remembers it exists. When a group of friends stumbles across the house, they unwittingly draw the attention of a monstrous, hungry creature hoping to slip through the border between worlds and into ours. It’s in this place that they also discover their world is more magical and unreal than they’d have ever expected.
Miller provides readers with an unflinching, uncensored glimpse of a world populated by bullies, tragedy, and alien beings. With gritty, grimy realism, Miller drags us into the story he’s crafted, forcing us to bear witness to extreme depravity and cosmic horror in equal measure. Gone is the infamous underage sewer orgy of King’s novel, but don’t worry because Miller manages to add plenty of discomforting and unsettling elements to his book. But it’s not all about the terror, The Damned Place is also about the strength of friendship and the courage found in the face of impossible conditions.
Daniel Caravetta’s narration captures the accents and speech patterns of the characters in a way that makes them jump off the page for the audiobook edition of Miller’s novel.

Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson, Narrated by Jim Meskimen

Jack Williamson managed to craft a different sort of werewolf tale with Darker Than You Think, creating whole new mythology along the way and tethering it all with the cutting-edge science–and pseudoscience–available at the time the story was written. It’s a strange thing that more writers didn’t take his lead and incorporate elements of this mythology in novels written since the 1940s.
The narrative follows Will Barbee, a reporter with close ties to members of a concluded expedition into the Gobi desert. On scene when the leader of the expedition experiences a sudden, suspicious death just as he’s preparing to make a grave announcement regarding their discoveries, Barbee doggedly pursues the story he knows is there. What follows is a disorienting melange of waking life and dreams, the questionable nature of reality, and the blurred line where fact meets fiction.
At its core, Darker Than You Think is a tale of a millennia-long conflict between human beings and a close relative hiding in plain sight while preying on humanity. Centuries before, humankind had thought they won the war; but a rising tide of Homo lycanthropus has been utilizing advances in scientific understanding to build their numbers and grow in strength. Awaiting the emergence of the Child of Night who will lead them to a golden age for their kind, the lycanthropes have only one thing to fear, an ancient weapon humanity can use against them, recovered on the expedition to the deserts of Mongolia.
A race against time ensues as Will Barbee, led by the enchanting April Bell, struggles to discover the nature of this weapon and neutralize the threat it poses.
The pulpy writing style of the times is a refreshing transition from modern literature. Though the identity of the Child of Night was so predictable that any discerning reader will have it figured out shortly after the mystery is proposed, the story is still an enjoyable one. Will Barbee comes across as almost painfully stupid at times, and his denial of what he’s experienced is stretched far beyond what should be credible for even the most disoriented and frightened individual.
Jim Meskimen’s narration is perfectly suited for a book written in the 1940s, sounding almost like the narrator of the radio dramas popular at the time. He captures the feel of the times in a way a lot of narrators might struggle to embody.