It was a pleasure having the chance to listen and review the premiere authored work of Mr. Penz. He has been a successful and well received audiobook narrator for some time, yet this is a work which he additionally created. Often, I’m not excited to listen to works where the author also narrates, but this combination of doing both worked very well in this case. Even though it was a short piece of fiction and fantasy, at just over an hour of audio time, I can say that the story was engaging and enjoyable. I would hope Mr. Penz plans on expanding this tale and world more in future works and that this piece was simply his way of dipping his toe in the water as a test. If so, I’m all in for having more in the future. If you are looking for a fantasy coming of age tale involving friends, this could be the quick listen you need.
I found the scenes descriptive and the people likable. It was fun listening to the kids banter as it closely resembled what I remember myself saying as a child and even a few words coming from my child growing up. I can only assume that Mr. Penz has children he took inspiration from when he sat down to pen the story. Even for a short story, there were all the necessary aspects that kept me drawn in. I can say that Mr. Penz would be a good storyteller around a campfire. There was friendship, some mystery around the distant ship, and even the arrival of some different people. Along with that, we were given tales of the high seas and even some that impacted our main characters which made them come alive. There were even a few surprises around the captain.
Even for a short piece, there was also complexity and quite a bit was covered during the hour I listened. Most of all, we see the importance of friendships, the struggle with events that may happen in life, and strained relationships. I can say that there were a few places that had emotional pull and you could really sense and feel the characters drive and weight of the situation. I found the massiveness of the dragon well thought out and written into the story. Even the gigantic stone chair became a central object to the story.
Narration is what one can expect from a professional narrator. The audio quality is superb, the pacing is on point, and the character voicing is wonderfully done. Even down to the Scottish-like voicing of the outsiders was fun to listen to. It had me feeling a bit like the characters from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon”. This is one of the rare occasions when the same person who authored the piece and then narrated, and it still came out done quite well.
For parents and younger listeners, this short work can be enjoyed by nearly any age group. I did not note any use of profanity or other more mature content. It is more a comping of age tale that is overall wholesome with some things most children can learn or will pick up on as they listen.
In summary, for the initial work from Mr. Penz, I can say this is a solid start and I would like to listen to more. The writing was descriptive, the characters likable, and the narration was solid. Apart from it being rather short, it had all the aspects of a well told story that focuses a light on the importance of friendships. Something that appears to be more and more lacking these days of friends only being found on social media. I would recommend you give the piece a listen.