“The combination of Chant’s solid storytelling and Peever’s dramatic narration is a match made in audio heaven.”
Daniel Marc Chant is one of the co-founders of The Sinister Horror Company and a champion of horror and strange fiction, having published work by Rich Hawkins, Adam Millard and Kit Power among many others. He is also an accomplished author in his own right, with works of horror including Burning House (2014), Maldicion (2014) and Mr Robespierre (2015), as well as the science fiction adventure novella Aimee Bancroft and the Singularity Storm (2016) and the YA drama One Girl Army (2017).
As noted above, Maldicion is not a new story. But Chant has recently adapted most of his back catalogue for the audio market. And he has selected different narrators for most of the stories. The audiobook of Maldicion was released in the Spring of 2017 and is narrated by Nigel Peever, an actor and narrator with over thirty years of experience, from television work such as British soap opera Coronation Street to appearing in Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) and too many audiobook credits to list. In Maldicion, the story of the lone survivor of a plane crash (Englishman Dexter LeGrasse) struggling to survive on a mysterious island, Peever delivers the narration and the inner dialogue of Dexter with a wonderfully theatrical spirit. And the added sound effects and atmospheric background music give the production a dramatic style that compliments the story and fits beautifully.
The story opens with Dexter, a young businessman with an inflated ego, trying to survive a transatlantic flight. But his problems with noisy passengers soon pale in comparison to what lies ahead when the aeroplane encounters turbulence and the captain soon advises them that they are going down. It is an explosive start to the story and, with Peever’s delivery, it quickly ratchets up the tension, not allowing the listener to rest at ease, as we listen to the horror of the passengers.
After the plane has crashed into the sea, and following a less-than-heroic encounter with an injured stewardess, Dexter is washed up on the shore of a tropical island. He immediately sets to exploring his surroundings and discovers a tranquil, if slightly eerie, forest. Chant builds on the creepiness further when Dexter discovers a small village in the middle of the forest, complete with man-made buildings and, even though there is evidence of inhabitants, it is clear that the buildings have been unoccupied for a long time. And when he finds the altar at the centre of the town, complete with dark red-brown stains, the tension is palpable.
Dexter spends the next week scavenging and surviving on the island. But he continually feels himself drawn back to the village. When he finally succumbs to his subconscious and finds himself on the outskirts of the village, he allows himself to be drawn deeper into the buildings, until he discovers the stone pyramid structure, and the monster within. What follows is a fight for survival as Dexter’s quest for a way off the island grows more desperate now he knows he isn’t alone. The sound effects employed by Peever for the sound of the monster and the destruction it causes is extremely effective, especially when the listener hears that monster roar for the first time.
Dexter’s ensuing struggle throughout the remainder of the story has a deeper meaning than just one man’s fight to survive. Dexter is trapped on that island, just as many everyday people are trapped in difficult life situations, whether that is a mid-life crisis or unhappy relationship. He strives to get through one day at a time, always fearful of the monster (symbolically representative of death or a ticking clock) catching up with him. The parallels are further reinforced as days pass and he grows increasingly tired, always looking over his shoulder for that monster, just like one of those everyday people looking over their shoulder, awaiting the inevitable touch of death. But he makes one last desperate attempt to escape the horror of the island, driven on by the appearance of searchlights out at sea. But will he be able to break free from the curse of the sinister island?
The combination of Chant’s solid storytelling and Peever’s dramatic narration is a match made in audio heaven. Given the methodical and atmospheric build-up of tension throughout the story, Peever’s delivery is perfect. Although the sense of dread permeates the wonderful prose, there is little in the way of blood and gore. It is more than just a creature feature, although fans of monsters, especially of the Cthulu Mythos (Chant’s fondness for Lovecraft is evident in the description of the island’s inhabitant), will find much to enjoy in the narration. It also has the added depth of an allegory, should you seek it. But sometimes you just have to turn the lights off, put the ear buds in and allow yourself to be terrified by a wonderfully tense story, narrated by a stirring and powerful performer.
Publisher: The Sinister Horror Company
Audiobook: 4 hours and 19 minutes
Release Date: 1 May 2017
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