Mur Lafferty comes to the blog today with the second in The Shambling Guides series, the premise being a series of ‘travel guides’ for paranormal beings. Self-Narrated and clever in concept, please read on for my review of
The Ghost Train to New Orleans
The second in the series, I do think that, despite the info-dumping and frequent attempts to provide some backstory and history of the past events, it is best to have the experience of the first book. The concept is super clever: the protagonist Zoe is a human book editor, working for a Vampire Publisher that creates travel guides for paranormal beings, making sure that their own special needs and requirements are attended to. Now, Zoe is still recovering from a disastrous December, losing a friend, discovering a power of her own, and losing a mentor, boyfriend and some of her illusions. She’s now got a new ‘boyfriend’, some internal conflict with writers on the staff, a new ‘minor goddess’ staffer, more questions than answers and all of this while investigating New Orleans – a place she’d never been.
I wanted to like Zoe and the story, the premise is unlike anything I’ve seen: unfortunately neither reached the potential promised. Zoe was flat: self-absorbed and far too able to revel in knowing something no others do, in the rare occasions that happened. She was overly focused on whinging about what she couldn’t change, and completely using “they can eat me, but the boss will eat them if something happens to me’ moments. And, for an editor, one would think that she’d avoid repeating herself, her mantra or the obvious pitfalls where she blindly moves forward, against all sense. She didn’t learn much – even as things were thrown at her from all direction: most of these things were half, if at all, resolved or served a purpose that made the story better. Characters were flat, rambling and often derivative: a story that should and could have been rich with flavor, conflicts, growth and action was simply “we did this, we saw that” with no actual development or connection of person to action to engagement. What felt like a first draft made it to completion, and still desperately screamed out for a developmental edit, cutting some elements out, playing up others and giving characters some personality quirks and traits that aren’t simply what one might expect.
Adding to the all tell, little show overstuffed plot, was the narration. I’m not a fan of authors who narrate their own books: and my own preconceptions proved truth here. Mur Lafferty narrated this story –and I can only relate it to that kid, in class, who just read the words – pausing at every comma, at the end of each sentence, never once adjusting speed or tone. A fiction title should have distinct characters, some emotional inflections and adjustments in pace and volume. That didn’t happen here – not once. It felt as if Lafferty had never heard an audiobook, and certainly not one narrated successfully. Nine hours plus of listening time took me 3 days – with many breaks and a constant reminder to myself to “pay attention’. Even with breaks, pauses and the reminders, I often found my mind wandering, not a highlighting factor for a review. In short, I’d suggest that those who want something different and perhaps a bit juvenile in construct read, not listen, to the series.
Stars: Overall 2 Narration 1 Story 2
Title: The Ghost Train to New Orleans
Author: Mur Lafferty
Series: The Shambling Guides #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Mur Lafferty
Published by: Hachette Audio, Orbit
Published on: 4 March, 2014
Source: Hachette Audio
Audio Length: 9 Hours: 12 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
Could you find a museum for a monster?Or a jazz bar for a jabberwock?
Zoe Norris writes travel guides for the undead. And she's good at it too—her new-found ability to talk to cities seems to help. After the success of The Sbambling Guide to New York City, Zoe and her team are sent to New Orleans to write the sequel.
Work isn't all that brings Zoe to the Big Easy. The only person who can save her boyfriend from zombism is rumored to live in the city's swamps, but Zoe's out of her element in the wilderness. With her supernatural colleagues waiting to see her fail, and rumors of a new threat hunting city talkers, can Zoe stay alive long enough to finish her next book?
A copy of this title was provided via Hachette Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.