ANDREW GARVEY reviews High Moor Audiobook by Graeme Reynolds
The ease of buying and reading Kindle books on actual Kindles, tablets, phones, PCs and seemingly everything else that can be plugged into something is obviously what makes traditional booksellers so worried for the future of their trade.
Less often commented on is the quieter revolution in the business of audiobooks. Once used largely by the elderly and the visually impaired, recorded on hissy audio cassettes and housed in clunky, great packages, the modern audiobook is a very different animal entirely.
The popularity of MP3 players almost instant, high quality digital downloads from outlets like Audible, Amazon and iTunes and with so many free, volunteer-read classics available from the excellent Librivox website, audiobooks are now hugely convenient. I should know. Last year I spent a weekend clearing an especially wild section of my back garden while ‘reading’ H. G. Wells’ ‘the Island of Dr. Moreau.
In October of this year, Dynamic Ram Audio, a Scottish-based audiobook production company founded in 2012, released their version of Graeme Reynolds’ acclaimed independent British horror novel High Moor. A ‘proper’ werewolf story (there’s nothing cuddly or teen-friendly about this beast) High Moor is full of violence, blood and fangs.
A warmly recommended book of much, much higher quality than the overwhelming majority of self-published works, Reynolds’ first installment of a werewolf trilogy (two down, one to go) is just as enjoyable in audiobook form.
Initially jarring, Dynamic Ram founder and reader Chris Barnes’ switching between his native Scottish accent and the County Durham one he clearly worked so hard to authentically recreate soon becomes one of the key strengths of this version.
True, his American isn’t as successful but overall, he does accents, genders, dialects and voices extremely well, effectively mimicking men and women from a wide variety of places in the UK. Often, audiobook readers make little effort (or if they do, they do it poorly) to integrate such markedly different voices into their work but Barnes can’t be accused of that and delivers a real performance.
The way he switches so quickly and seamlessly from one voice to another suggests Barnes is a very versatile performer or a highly skilled audio editor. In truth, it’s probably a bit of both. The production of the more than seven hour, unabridged story is first rate. The narrative flows well, music is well-used and suitably atmospheric and sound quality is excellent.
Of course, it all helps that the story Barnes is working with is so good to begin with. Graeme Reynolds’ tale of a very believably rough, not to mention supernaturally traumatic 1980s childhood and his main character John’s return home over twenty years later is well worth a read. And a listen.
High Moor by Dynamic Ram Audio is available here