I received a copy of the Roll Them Bones audio book from Crossroads Press for review purposes.
It has been a while since I have done a review of a book, let alone an audio book, in print format so I have decided to break this review into two parts. One for the story itself, and one for the audio version.
Roll Them Bones is a good horror thriller which leans more toward the thriller side of things. It is the story of four friends, Jason, Frank, Ronnie, and Lizzy, returning to they childhood home, Random, Illinois, in an attempt to understand and get past events that took place on a Halloween night many years earlier. All of them, except Ronnie, have fled Random seeking a new life. And have returned to investigate why it seems that the events of that Halloween night seem to be playing themselves out again.
Each one of the character knows part of what happened on the faithful night that haunts each of them through their dreams. Each character has found different ways to deal with the lingering fear: Jason and Lizzy by running away; Frank, a very successful horror writer, by writing the story of the original events over and over again; and Ronnie by confronting the past head on. But in the end they all return to face the events once and for all.
Roll Them Bones is a good story. It leaves a lot of questions to the reader. The answers to which would have made the character’s more interesting as well as there motivations more clear.
What dark secret drove Jason away from Random? What did happen to Lizzy’s marriage and kids, and why does she seem to fear alcohol? Was there no other way for Frank to deal with his demons? What event’s caused Ronnie to go back to the woods?
The lack of details concerning Jason’s reason for leaving Random (there are hinted at family problems) as well as a lack of explanation concerning Lizzy’s avoidance of alcohol and the status of her kids (mentioned once early on) distracted me a bit. Lizzy also seems a bit to willing to just fall into bed with Jason.
I would have liked to know more about Frank.
The way the end of the story played out also bothered me. Not the end itself, but the way it was told. The explanation of the events of the story was fine, but the way they were told seemed a bit forced and drawn out.
So in the end the story itself is good and worth a read, but with a little work it could have been a great story.
Since I am reviewing the audio version of the story, here is my take on the audio.
The audio, which is just over three hours long, was clean and clear. The narrator, Jeffery Kafer, does a good job in reading the story, although there is not a lot of distinction between each character voice-wise. It is a well produced audio-book.
I really only have two complaints about the audio version.
One, some of the story is told in flash-back. This is fine, but there are a couple of awkward and confusing transitions from flash-back back to the present. In each case there is no audio cue for the listener to indicate that the narration has moved back to the present and I got confused for a few moments. Transitions like this are hard to do in audio versus print. In print you can put the flash-back in italic or use some print effect to distinguish the difference. In audio, you can use different effects or add some kind of musical cue. There is nothing special used in this audio-book to set those sections apart.
Two, and this is picky and might be in the text as well, there is a point in the story in which Jason refers to Ronnie as Frank.
Other than the issues listed above, I enjoyed the audio. Jeffery Kafer did a good job doing the reading and has a nice voice to listen to.
Overall, I enjoyed Roll Them Bones, both the story and audio, and I would recommend it if you are a short psychological thriller with supernatural overtones.