Red Raygun Ltd., out now
The first in Jonathan Barnes’ sequence of spooky tales centred around the mysterious Godfrey Skayne was released as an ebook shortly before Christmas. Now we have an alternate version – the audiobook, performed by Nicholas Briggs. (Check the ebook review for our comments on the story itself).
A good audiobook version of a story can make you look at the original in a different light, and this is no exception. For the narrating don, Briggs adopts exactly the sort of slightly supercilious tone of someone whose entire life is devoted to the study of the minutiae of millennia old books and has more than a few problems with the real world, while the other characters’ dialogue are rendered as appropriate. Since their words are being filtered through the Rector’s memories, their tones are perhaps not quite as you’d expect.
Some of Barnes’ affectations in the story – notably his way of highlighting certain aspects in a way that the narrator treats disparagingly – work better on audio than they do in print, and Briggs wisely resists the temptation to overegg the pudding with the sound design (although there’s the perhaps-slightly clichéd use of a pipe organ on occasion). He also doesn’t try to bring to life some of the sounds which the Rector describes, emphasising the break with reality that they might… only might, mind you… signify.
Verdict: Running just under the hour, this is a good rendition of an unsettling tale which doesn’t outstay its welcome. 8/10