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Thursday, January 23, 2020

My First Audiobook a Slow, Gory Slog

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As an aspiring journalist, 16-year-old Nathalie Baudin is thrilled to be writing a column for Le Petite Journal.  Even if the editor, an old family friend, hired her only as a favor to her unemployed mother and away-at-sea father.  Even if she has to dress as a boy to do her reporting.  Even if the job means spending her days studying corpses at Paris' public morgue.  Despite her unladylike interest in the macabre, she's as horrified as everyone else when a serial killer begins preying on the city's young women.  She's even more aghast when, while viewing the victims' bodies at the morgue, she begins having nauseating visions of them being brutalized.  Most confusing of all, the scenes are from the perspective of the killer.  Why is she having these strange visions?  What could they possibly mean?  

Soon Nathalie realizes that her gruesome waking dreams are a weird gift that could help the police find the killer who has been dubbed "The Dark Artist."  But that means opening herself to more violent visions, which leave her frightened and disgusted.  Is it worth her sanity to encourage the blood-soaked visions?  As Nathalie searches for answers, she stumbles across shocking secrets about her family and herself.  Her sleuthing soon attracts the attention of the murderer.  With a killer on her own tail, she must find answers—and fast—before she becomes the next corpse lying on a slab for all of Paris to view. 

Spectacle, a debut novel by Jodie Lynn Zdrok, has an intriguing premise and a creepy, atmospheric Jack the Ripper feel.  While neither of these elements is all that original, the combination presents a compelling jumping-off point.  Unfortunately, the story Zdrok spins from it is slow, with a lot of meandering around before it gets anywhere.  The tale gets repetitious and dull, making its 368 pages feel like double that.  Add in a lot of bloody, gory scenes, some of which made me feel physically ill, and Spectacle became a tough tale to get through.  I did become invested enough in the story to finish it, but in the end, I just didn't find the book all that enjoyable or satisfying.  Needless to say, I won't be bothering with the sequel, Sensational, which comes out in February.

I should mention that I listened to Spectacle as an audiobook—my first one ever.  The narrator, Laurie Catherine Winkel, is okay.  Her narration is a little stiff, with her French sounding more natural than her English.  My daughter says she sounds like the Google Translate voice.  I don't know if listening to Spectacle as opposed to reading it altered my experience with the book or not.  I think I would have felt the same way, no matter what, but I'm still a noob when it comes to audiobooks, so who knows?

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of the Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting [The Body Finder; Desires of the Dead; The Last Echo; and Dead Silence] as well as various books about Jack the Ripper)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language; violence; disturbing subject matter; and blood/gore

To the FTC, with love:  I received a free finished audio copy of Spectacle as part of a promotion offered by Audible.


  1. As an audiobook lover, I will say that you'll likely need to find your 'happy' place with them. I've noticed that some things are more 'whatever' (annoying, pleasing, shocking) when I'm being read to rather than reading in print. Narrators can make a big difference and there are some that I just can't listen to. And then there are some that I would listen to them read 'the phone book' (if the phone book existed anymore - ha!). This sounds like the kind of book that I might like, but I'll not hurry to read it. Better luck with your next audio adventure!

  2. I am not good with audiobooks and I do think the quality of the narrator makes a huge difference. A slow book, especially for a thriller, just doesn't work for me. Too bad this was a let down.

  3. Sorry this one wasn't better.

  4. I am sorry that your first audiobook was a bit of a dud. I find that I only enjoy listening to certain genres and the narrator makes a big difference. I hope your next listen is better!

  5. It is too bad that your first audiobook was not the best. The narrator can make or break a book and it sounds like the latter here. Don't give up Susan. This doesn't sound like one that I would read or listen to.


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