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Audiobook review

Famous Monsters of Audio
by Greg Beatty

The first time we saw the cinematic "Frankenstein", everyone I know went to sleep that night wondering what evils lurked in their closet or under the bed.
But the first time I opened the original novel on which that terribly frightening movie had been based, Mary Shelley confused me half to death. Where's the big guy with the bolts in the side of his neck, and what's the deal with all of these letters? The same thing happened with Dracula. What's with all this talk talk talk? Get on with the bloodsucking!

Shelley and Stoker were very different writers, but they shared two things - a visionary intensity, and the need for a good editor. Stoker was a hack who got hit by the genius stick once, for "Dracula", and Shelley was nineteen when she wrote "Frankenstein". These audio versions are abridged, but only the dross is cut: the visionary gold is still here.

Classic Thrillers:
Bram Stoker's Dracula
(Abridged by Heather Godwin; read by Daniel Philpott, Johathan Oliver, & Chris Larkin)
& Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
(Abridged by Duncan Steen; performed by Brian Cox, Heathcote Williams, Dermot Kerrigan, Siri O'Neal, & Michael Neal)
Naxos Audiobooks
Five cassettes

What's more, an audio performance with multiple actors, sound effects, and period music brings the diary and epistolary form to life. That means that when the narrative perspective shifts from Victor to his creation, we are immediately signaled by a change in voice. Likewise, when Stoker shifts from Dr. Seward's diary to Mina Harker's journal, the production shifts actors.

The multiple voices really work to underscore both the differences and the continuity, and in both novels evoke the works' oral nature, often lost on modern readers. The only drawback is that Stoker couldn't do dialect to save his life, and listening to Van Helsing's wretched hash of an accent is comical at best, painful at worst.

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