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Best one so far

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-11-14

In any long-running series, there comes the moment when the author decides to take the main character out of their natural habitat, and put them into a new environment. Done well it freshens things up and lets you see the central character in a new light. Done badly you spend the whole book wishing the narrative back home. Aaronovitch triumphantly falls into the former category, finding ways to give you glimpses of characters left back in London (e.g. Molly's packing) while also letting us see how a completely new set of characters perceive Peter. Peter, we learn, has matured and become more confident and powerful than at the outset of the series, but retains the innate goodness and occasional naivety that makes him such a compelling character. The novel avoids the many well-worn 'Londoner in the country' cliches, creating a new set of well-rounded characters. It also tackles a serious topic - child disappearance - in a fantasy series, without losing sight of the suffering that such disappearances cause in the real world.

I've never tried the print version of these novels, because I know that I could never match Kobna Holdbrook Smith's narration in my own head. What is so brilliant is that he is completely convincing as a young London copper, but also takes on such a range of other voices both male and female without making them feel strained. I love the fact that the author and narrator now do some book readings together. Holdbrook Smith *is* the voice of Peter Grant.

The only author-narrator pairing that compares is the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, as read by Grover Gardner. There's a similar dry humour with serious topics. I was delighted to discover that Aaronovitch is a McMaster Bujold fan - he offers a nice close reading of one of her scenes on his blog.

Perfectly acceptable

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-09-14

Is there anything you would change about this book?

For long periods of time there just doesn't seem to be much at stake - will Claire come to terms with her gifts, will she manage to lay the key ghost, will she get together with the hot ex-cop? It's all competently done and I liked the fact that both she and the ex-cop were extremely skeptical about the supernatural (this is a sensible response!). In fact, they are both likable characters and they were pleasant to spend time with. But it wasn't the kind of book that I was itching to get back to. When it was finished I was glad I'd stuck with it, but I won't be looking out for the next in the series.

Wonderful story, wonderful narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-07-12

This is another great volume in the Peter Grant series. Aaronovitch has established a set of likeable three-dimensional characters who inhabit a rich urban fantasy world. The central narrative thread of this volume (investigating a crime in the underground) moves along nicely, and the broader narrative arcs of the series are developed. Aaronovitch also does well in tackling some tricky real-world issues such as race and disability without ever seeming to preach. It's good to see Lesley back doing policework.
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's narration is flat-out terrific. There is a broader set of accents for him to contend with here, but each voice emerges as individual and convincing. The central performance of Peter Grant holds the whole thing together - colloquial, self-deprecating, bright and perceptive in many ways, a bit obtuse in others.
Oh, and did I mention how funny the whole thing is in places? In fact, the only problem with this audiobook is the funny looks you get as you walk along apparently chortling to yourself.

25 people found this helpful

A great book for the car

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-08-11

I got this for my 5 year old daughter to listen to in the car, and I've now listened to it more often than anything else I've ever got from Audible. We both think it's great. The story is engaging without being too terrifying for a child. The underlying ideas are imaginative and fresh. Each scene is well done. The overall plot makes sense. The narrator, Sophie Aldred, does a terrific job of differentiating the characters. You can listen to it five times on a long journey to France and not want to smash your ipod into tiny pieces at the end.
I should note that it is the third in the series - Cosmo and the Magic Sneeze is first, Cosmo and the Great Witch Escape is second, and these are great too. But it's not really necessary to read them in order - everything explained very clearly.

2 people found this helpful

Perfect audiobook

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-07-11

This comes as close to perfection in an audiobook as I think it's possible to get. The mix of wry observation about everyday policing in London combined with a clever supernatural storyline is brilliant. And the narrator is fantastic. His dry, deadpan delivery works well both for the comic one-liners and for the action sequences. In fact, I suspect that I would not enjoy this book so much on the page because it would lack Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's timing and character voicing. Great stuff.

48 people found this helpful

Very enjoyable

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-05-11

I first read 'Dead Until Dark' some years ago. While I didn't hate it, I didn't really love it either. In print, it's a fairly short read and I just didn't find the romance between Bill and Sookie all that compelling. Having watched the TV series, though, I decided to give the audio books a try and I'm absolutely gripped. For a start it's fascinating to see what changes have been made between book and TV show, and it certainly helps that I can now visualise all the wonderful characters from the show (partly because the novel is in the first person, some of the supporting characters are not as fully fleshed as on the TV show). But the books themselves are also richer than initially gave them credit for, and the length works well for audio. Yes, they are quite formulaic in some ways, but Harris has some neat tricks up her sleeve and can write comedy, romance and action scenes effectively.
Credit must also go to the reader of the audiobook, Johanna Parker. Sookie is quite a difficult character to give voice to I think - she has to seem moral without seeming prissy, and to resist the attention of various gorgeous men without seeming prudish - and Parker really pulls it off. A well-paced and enjoyable listen.

5 people found this helpful

Fabulous

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-05-11

It's lovely to hear the full version of the Paddington stories, which are so beautifully written and funny for children and adults alike. And Stephen Fry is the perfect reader for these stories - dry, witty, well-timed. He differentiates each voice very clearly without going over the top. One to enjoy in the car on a long journey again and again and again.

9 people found this helpful

A good short story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-08-10

This is a short story (but then, it's cheap too). It's a good glimpse into some much-loved characters. It's certainly not where I would choose to start listening to the series, but for someone who has read everything else in the Vorkosigan series, it's certainly worth a listen.
Also I too disagree about the narration (while accepting that everyone has a right for preferences in such matters). For me, Grover Gardner is a superb reader of the novels - dry, witty and understated. I love to read the books and then a bit later listen them to them too - it's a completely different, but equally wonderful, experience.

2 people found this helpful

Not a complete story

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-08-08

Although it had some slow patches, this was quite an enjoyable romp and Seregil is definitely a compelling character. Under normal circumstances I'd have given it four stars. However, what spoiled it a bit for me was that nothing really got resolved at the end. It's part of a series, but it doesn't stand alone as a complete story in it's own right. If you want to know the answers to the major questions you're going to have to get the rest of the series. And I didn't enjoy it *that* much that I'm dashing to read the rest. So, all in all, it was a bit let-down at the end.

3 people found this helpful

Magic Kingdom for Sale cover art

OK but a bit dull

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-01-08

This was a perfectly pleasant way to pass the time and the narrator was clearly enjoying himself. However, it had very little flair or excitement. The central character, Ben, was rather stodgy and the main female character, Willow, was drippy beyond belief. The plot trotted along in a workmanlike fashion but I was never gripped.

1 person found this helpful