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Audio Book Review


Vampire Horror!


Authors: John Polidori, M.R. James and F. Marion Crawford
Read by: Bill Wallis, Anthony Head, John Telfer and Cornelius Garrett
RRP: £13.25
ISBN: 978 1 4084 6870 8
Available 06 October 2011

Hot on the heels of Ghostly Terror!, from AudioGo, on limited CD release or available to download, comes Vampire Horror! - this time consisting of three classic Nosferatu tales split across three discs, with a total running time of 180 minutes.

In Vampyre, by John Polidori, a young Englishman, intrigued by an enigmatic stranger, accompanies him on a trip across Europe, only to discover there is more to the ‘man’ than meets the eye. Many moons ago I tried my hardest to read this story which is supposed to originated from Lord Byron at the same time that Mary Shelley wrote the ageless milestone, Frankenstein. It is extremely slow and monotonous, and so doesn’t translate well to an audio reading either. Bill Wallis sounds not so much bored as resigned to the whole enterprise.

In The Wailing Well, by the great ghost story writer M.R. James, a group of students are warned away from an eerie location in an off-bounds field by a local shepherd, who tells them a chilling story. One student is sceptical and, against strict instructions approaches the well, with devastating consequences. Anthony Head, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Merlin, and Little Britain fame, has a smooth and comfortable voice to listen to - although his over-emoting at one point is unnecessary. This is a story of two halves; the story told by the shepherd is haunting and entertaining, although the conclusion fails to deliver on its promise.

For the Blood is the Life, by F. Marion Crawford, tells the story of a mound haunted by a murdered young woman. Told in retrospect, as most of these old tales are, it paints a chilling picture of a figure which can be seen on the mound from a distance, but appears to be a trick of the light when approached - that is until it reaches out for its love and source of blood. This is a good story, well told by John Telfer. Along with the final tale, it is the best of the bunch, being recognisably a vampire story, but with a difference.

The final reading is A Tale of Cathedral History, another offering by master supernatural storyteller, M.R. James. This is read by Cornelius Garrett, and tells of plans to open and renovate an unknown stone tomb which dates back centuries. Again, the majority of the plot is told in hindsight by the son of builder who had, along with church representatives, attempted to remove the tombstone and inadvertantly released an evil darkness.

Aside, from The Vampyre, this collection proves to be unexpectedly interesting listening. It comes as a pleasant surprise, particularly as, like zombies, vampires can prove tiresome unless something different is attempted from the legend. Buffy was a great series, but it has a lot to answer for, as Twilight and The Vampire Diaries are, to my mind, tedious monotony. But I’m sure this release will sell to some of that market.


Ty Power

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