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Summary

In the aftermath of the mysterious death of their lead singer, the young members of a now-legendary British acid folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient English country house with its own dark secrets. There they record Wylding Hall, the album that makes their reputation - but at a terrifying cost when Julian Blake, their new lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again.

Now, years later, the surviving musicians and their friends and lovers - including a psychic, a photographer, and the band's manager - meet with a young documentary filmmaker to tell their own versions of what happened during that summer. But whose story is the true one? And what really happened to Julian Blake?

©2015 Elizabeth Hand (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Wylding Hall

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Atmospheric English Folk Horror

Really my only complaint about this book is that it's too short. Its themes are very reminiscent of the English Folk Horror films of the 1970s like Blood on Satan's Claw and the Wicker Man. The story is set over one hot summer in the early 70s. An almost famous folk band are sent to stay in an ancient manor house deep in the countryside to write their second album. The sense of time and place is very believable as is the dynamic between the band members - at least to a non-musician like me. It really made me want to listen to the legendary album they create! The story is told in the present day so all the narrators are potentially unreliable given the distance of time and the alcohol and drugs they were consuming at Wylding Hall. No one has the full story and we can only piece together what happened from the subjective views of each character. There aren't really any shocks or big scares but instead a pervasive atmosphere of something not being quite right. Odd things happen and are never really explained so if you get frustrated by stories that lack a big denouement and exposition you might not like this very much.

As you can see it's quite short; more of a novella and probably one to get if you have a few spare credits. I would listen to it on a hot summer day - ideally sitting outside under a tree. Just watch out for the wrens.

The narrators are uniformly excellent. Having a different actor for each part really adds to the experience of listening to the book.

I've only read one other book by Elizabeth Hand and going by this I wish there was more of her work available on audio.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Pretty solid ghost story

I've had this one on my wish list for literally years. I mean, a ghost story set during the recording of a folk/rock band's album? Yes, yes, yes. That's 100% my kind of thing, sign me up immediately. And having decided that in 2021 I'm just going to be reading all those long-awaited books, it didn't disappoint. I loved the interview/documentary style of the various talking heads - I thought that all of the actors/narrators did a great job putting the story across.

If I have one complaint it's that there was a lot of build up for a comparatively rushed final third. There was some great foreshadowing, a lot of slightly creepy events then in half an hour everything was wrapped up. But even with this it was still enjoyable dark fiction.

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Slow paced

Considering that wylding hall is only 4.5 hours long it feels so slow. All I can say is the ending better be worth it or I'll return it. I've never returned a book I've finished before but I deserve my credit back for having to put up with it.
Please note it may get better and I will update the review if it gets better.

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  • Sarah B
  • 03-09-18

Surprisingly Delightful

I'm usually not a fan of shorter stories but I'm glad I took a chance on this one. The documentary style really drew me in and I eagerly listed to different sides of the story. I often listen to stories before bed and this one gave me nightmares - I loved it! A little mystery and atmosphere goes a long way and this writer is superb. Definitely teading/listening more from this author.

5 people found this helpful

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  • wisconsinclark
  • 23-07-20

Big buildup, disappointing ending

Cast was well done, pulls you in, then nothing. This story was a tease, flirts with you with tantalizing details about a missing lead singer and his ghost girl. Then it ends with no explanation, just a tiny hint.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Lou Lombardi
  • 15-10-19

meh...

no story... mildly interesting characters

i bought this because I thought that it was a horror novel.... it's not

best part? it's short !

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Karissa Eckert
  • 23-12-20

Okay but the story is kind of thin.

Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone audiobook that I borrowed through Audible Plus.

Audiobook Quality (4/5): The audiobook was well done and the two narrators do an excellent job with all of the different character voices. This is one I would definitely recommend listening to on audiobook.

Story (3/5): I have read, and really enjoyed, a lot of Hand’s books, unfortunately I thought this one was a bit weak. The story is pretty thin here, basically a band rents out a mysterious estate, Wylding Hall, to record their new record at. After the suicide of one of their members, the lead singer Julian Blake disappears in the house somehow under mysterious circumstances.

The events are revealed through a series of interviews with the band members, their significant others, and the band manager. There is a lot of sex, drugs, and drinking throughout. It’s just a little blip of a story that felt kind of thin and predictable to me. I think it’s supposed to be mysterious and creepy but the fact that you can tell that Julian disappeared right from the beginning of the story makes the whole thing anti-climatic.

Characters (3/5): You hear interviews with a lot of characters so it’s hard to keep them straight and engage with them. Julian is given this kind of bigger than life persona which I felt like he never deserved. I don’t know, the whole cast of characters was kind of “blah” to me.

Setting (3/5): Wylding Hall should have been an amazing setting but it wasn’t really described well enough for me to picture it fully. It doesn’t ever really seem all that creepy or scary to me. Just kind of your typical old house setting.

Writing Style (3/5): I liked the interview style this was written in and how it slowly reveals the story. However, I just felt like the whole story was so thin and the characters were so underdeveloped that I kind of didn’t care about any of it.

My Summary (3/5): Overall I would have been just fine never listening to this, this is definitely not one of Hand’s finer stories. I would recommend skipping this. The whole premise is pretty thin and not well thought out and all the jumping between characters makes the story feel really fractured.

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. Weiner
  • 09-12-20

The very definition of "middling"

In the end, the problem is really that... not much happens. So there's a disappearance, years before the book takes place, but you're not really given any reason to care. This is a full-cast recording and, as is often the case, performance quality varies. At its best, this book has a kind of misty, nostalgic folk-horror quality, like a memory of watching The Wicker Man on a crisp autumn night years ago. But it doesn't hit those notes for long, alas. It does rather leave one wanting to listen to a lot of Fairport Convention, though.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Wesley J. Critchfield
  • 01-01-20

Nothing really happens

It's alright, nothing great though. it's mostly Atmosphere with a disappearance we are told happened at the very beginning. there are some creepy moments toward the end of the book but not really worth the journey. still it is short and good to listen to so if you're looking for something that's mostly mood I would recommend this.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Whit
  • 22-04-17

Excellent Traditional Spooky Old House Yarn

I listened to music from this era often and happily, and the capture of the moment stitched in with a deft spooky tale (told nonsequentially and expertly) kept my attention with rare spirit. What a fine piece of work! Like an old Rolling Stone oral history combined with a Diana Rigg ghost story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Courtney E. Griffin
  • 14-04-21

Retrospective Haunting

Interesting "where are they now" take on a paranormal experience. Warning, no final answer (some ideas though) so don't listen if an open-ended ending will drive you crazy.

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  • R. Lamb
  • 14-03-21

Fun, short read

So if you’re looking for something to just get you through 1 to 2 days, and you want something that will keep your mind fresh with the reading style and the style of the book itself, I think that you would be happy to choose this audiobook! I almost got through it in one day. One thing about this book is that I can’t say that there was really a beginning, middle, end, or climax. I wish that something would have definitively settled with the main plot, but they sort of give you the clues to work it out yourself. All in all, I really enjoyed this short story!

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Kay
  • 11-03-21

Surprisingly enjoyable

This documentary style narration is different and not something I’ve listened to before (that I can remember). I found it fairly engaging and enjoyed it well enough. It’s not scary, creepy, suspenseful, or anything...but somehow manages to be a compulsive listen.