If there's one thing I like, it is free books. I think that's what makes the books on Podiobooks so much more awesome. Not only do authors get the chance to put out their books via an audio format, but us the readers (or in this case, listeners) get to pick them up for free. I won't lie- sometimes there are some pretty rough books out there that can use a bit more work, but sometimes you get some pretty awesome authors such as Scott Sigler. (If you haven't read or listened to any of his works, you are in for a huge treat.) Donations are optional, but encouraged on Podiobooks, as the author gets a good chunk of what you donate.
The book I'm reviewing in this post has yet to be published in paper format by the author, Phil Rossi, although one of his other books (Crescent) has. This book is called Harvey, and follows the supernatural events that are happening in the small town of Harvey.
Calvin Hubbard used to be famous for his voice, singing in an ultra famous singing competition reminiscent of American Idol. Used to be is the key word, as now everyone refers to him as "that guy who screwed one of the judges". Desperate for a nice quiet hideaway to produce his new album, Calvin stumbles upon the tiny town of Harvey, Virginia. At first the town seems perfect and he even stumbles into a relationship with one of the town beauties. Unfortunately for him, he had no way of knowing that dark things lurk in the forests- things with teeth, things that want to devour each inhabitant of Harvey, body and soul!
I feel a little unfair, critiquing some parts of this podiobook. The book is read by the author on his own equipment, if I'm not mistaken. I always feel guilty when ever I think something critical about the audio quality or vocal talents under these conditions- they're just starting out and don't have professionals who can read for them. Rossi does an excellent job of reading his book and the audio quality is very, very good for a podcast novel- I've listened to many where you can pick out a lot of background or white noise. It's just that I have to warn the average listener- Rossi has a bit of a nasally voice that tended to be a little annoying when I first started listening to the book. Again, this is a bit of a petty complaint- he can't help the way he sounds any more than I can help the way you or I do. Rest assured- he does a great job at reading and eventually I ignored all of the little details as I was quickly sucked into the book.
One thing I can definitely wonder about this book is this: WHY ISN'T THIS GUY MORE PUBLISHED? I won't lie, there's a little bit of work to be done. But that's an emphasis on "little". This guy is fantastic, his writing style reminding me a little of Stephen King's early work. This is like listening to one of those classic cult horror movies- a little on the cheesy side, but incredibly entertaining. He's not going to topple Scott Sigler as my absolute favorite podcast author, but let's be honest- Sigler's a hard man to beat.
Hmm... criticisms... I do have to say that while I can appreciate the mystery of the supernatural elements of the book, I do wish that there'd been a little more explanation about them. There was enough explanation to where I wasn't lost, but I couldn't help but want to know more. I also felt like some of the secondary and more minor characters could have had a little more description- especially the fabulous Meeks, easily my favorite character of the book. There's some that are barely mentioned in the beginning, so when they're mentioned later I had to pause the book in order to remember who they were. I also wish that I'd gotten a little more romantic development between Calvin and Megan- it just felt a little rushed.
Overall though, this is an extremely well polished novel and it is a very entertaining listen. I thought that the tension was nicely developed and I found myself really getting immersed in the book. The descriptions of the book really helped the book come alive for me, especially in the final scenes of the book. I also have to give props to Rossi's choice of opening and closing soundtrack, as well as choosing to close his book with that same artist. (There's also a brief bit of piano music that was used, which I could swear I've heard before and loved.)
If you love horror, you'll probably like this book. It makes for a good book to listen to while you are driving or unable to read a physical book. I'm looking forward to getting into Rossi's other novel (Crescent) , which is viewed by many of his fans as a superior read.