It’s decorative gourd season! That means it’s time for pumpkin spice, scary masks, and ghost stories.
I decided to kick off the season by picking up Erik Larson’s latest book, No One Goes Alone.
Larson’s latest release is available only as an audiobook, so this was a big switch for me. I don’t read horror very often. It’s not that I don’t like the genre. I don’t have much time for reading, so I need to focus on useful prose, science fiction, and history that helps me with my writing. Horror rarely fits that criteria.
I don’t listen to many audiobooks. This has more to do with preference than time. I like reading books. I like them so much that I moved away from a tablet and back toward paper books during the pandemic. That’s jot to say I don’t like audio - I like dramatizations, but that’s a different post.
I’m a big fan of Larson’s, though. I enjoy historical nonfiction, and his storytelling skills are almost unparalleled. The Devil in the White City is a masterpiece of stranger-than-fiction fact wrapped in a taut drama.
So I bought the audiobook. and was pleasantly surprised.
Here’s what the publisher has to say:
A group of researchers sets sail for the Isle of Dorn in the North Atlantic in 1905 to explore the cause of several mysterious disappearances, most notably a family of four who vanished without a trace after a week-long holiday on the island. Led by Professor James, a prominent member of the Society for Psychical Research, they begin to explore the island’s sole cottage and surrounding landscape in search of a logical explanation.
The idyllic setting belies an undercurrent of danger and treachery, with raging storms and unnerving discoveries adding to the sense of menace. As increasingly unexplainable events unfold, the now-stranded investigators are unsure whether they can trust their own eyes, their instincts, one another—or even themselves.
Erik Larson has written a terrifying tale of suspense, underpinned with actual people and events. Created specifically to entertain audio listeners, this eerie blend of the ghostly and the real will keep listeners captivated till the blood-chilling end.
Larson’s bailiwick in the past was dramatizing actual events. In this tale, he takes a few real-life characters, mixes in a few of his own, and tells an entirely fictional story. A ghost story, to be exact. But are there ghosts in his story? You’ll have to listen to find out.
Ghosts, spirits, and mediums were a big deal in the first few years of the 20th Century, and a group of casual acquaintances and strangers investigating a “haunted house” fits just a neatly into 1905 as it does Saturday morning cartoons. The audiobook includes an epilogue from Larson explaining where the story and its characters fit into reality.
The narrator, Julian Rhind-Tutt, brings the story to life with individual voices for each character. He makes it easy to tell which character is speaking without going too far and pulling you out of the story. I’m impressed enough that I’ll be seeking out other books narrated by him.
The pace is slow, and if you’re looking for a white-knuckle thriller or jump scares, this isn’t the book for you. No One Goes Alone is an old-school ghost story pace, and I loved it.
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