If you are a person who likes your horror more on the disturbing side of the fence, and you find yourself drawn to movies such as Saw, Friday the 13th, etc., “Wildlife: Reckoning” the latest work published in audiobook format by Jeff Menapace might be just what you are looking for in your next listen. This is only the second work from this author I have both listened and reviewed, and I will say this one is quite dark, rather gruesome, and overly horrific from a story perspective; unlike the first I listened too. Definitely, a work that is outside of my comfort zone or preferred listening genre, but I wanted to give it a listen because the audiobook is exceptionally performed by the wonderful team at Soundbooth Theatre with narrations by both Jeff Hays and Annie Ellicott. This audiobook is actually a continuation, or follow-up, to a previous work call “Wildlife”, yet this story can be listened to as a stand-alone piece as I did. The previous book’s activities are referenced in this one, but it does not require you to have knowledge of it to enjoy this one. If this sounds like your type of books, I would recommend it based on its fluid and descriptive writing along with the superb narration team. Be aware, it is not intended for younger readers.
As stated above, the horror genre is not really something that I seek out, but I have read another book by the author (more dystopian) and I think very highly of the narrators. For me, the writing and flow was done very well. The plot flowed at a decent speed and there were times I was wondering what was going to jump out from behind that closed door. Was it going to be that stupid cat, or a crazed murder like in the movies? More than not, it was the crazy person. If this is the type of story you enjoy, I think you will not be disappointed by Mr. Menapace’s follow-up to the Wildlife book. Even though the characters were very dark and creepy, especially their younger daughter, they each felt right in the story’s context. They had distinct motives and personalities, as bizarre as they were. Upon finishing the book, it made me think of those “Girls Gone Bad” videos from the 80s but the main characters are replaced with swamp people from the TV show. I would best describe the audiobook as a piece of dark gritty horror noir on steroids. Again, some may think it tame and calm, but I found it mostly disconcerting; which I think was the author’s intent.
Let me turn to the audiobook’s narration. From my initiation into audiobooks, the name Jeff Hays has always been the one who was setting the bar for production quality. Now that he has formed Soundbooth Theatre, he has brought in some of the best of the best narrators to help out. I do enjoy Annie Ellicott’s ability to voice the female roles in this book, including the very creepy little daughter. She will forever be in my nightmares, thanks for that! Mr. Hays did a wonderful job with the male parts, and the blending of the two narrators really helped to enhance the audiobook for me. The audio itself was clean of any artifacts and the volume remained the same from start to finish. The team added some sound effects to the production which mostly added to the ambiance and overall feeling of the book. If this is not your type of book, I would recommend you look for other audiobooks the team at Soundbooth Theatre have performed, as I’m sure there are many you will be interested in.
For parents and younger listeners, I would say up front that this audiobook is not at all appropriate for non-mature listeners. There are graphic scenes of violence, heavy use of profanity, and mature sexual topics or subject matter that just would not be good for a younger reader. Some or all of these are on nearly every page of this book. If you are at all one who gets squeamish when a person steps on a bug, I recommend steering clear of this book. It is hard-core horror in my classification.
In summary, if you are one who enjoys very dark and alarming stories, I think you will like listening to this audiobook. If you often shy away from this genre of material, like me, you may want to give it a pass. The people are rather strange, the situations are over the top, and the horror is rather graphic and descriptive. The writing was good, the narration and audio effects were great. If you are one who likes other works by Mr. Menapace, I think you will feel right at home with this audiobook.