Desert Isle Keeper
On Thin Ice
Narrated by Xe Sands
From the moment Finn MacGowan was introduced in On Thin Ice, I wanted to hear him in audio. Who can resist the voice of an Irishman? Thanks to Tantor I only had to wait five months for the experience, and thanks to this teaser posted by narrator Xe Sands as she developed Finn’s voice, I was 90% certain I was going to be in audiobook heaven with the combination of Anne Stuart’s writing and Xe Sands’ narration.
Having read the book, I was familiar with the story and therefore knew the narration would be challenging – seven different accents are required by the end of the audio. Xe Sands’ accents are flawless, no matter how large or small the parts and that’s impressive! In addition to Finn’s character, I loved hearing the voicing of Mahmoud and Peter (past hero and son from Cold as Ice) as they interacted but…I’m getting ahead of myself.
Finn MacGowan, an agent for the secretive Committee, has been held prisoner by political rebels for nearly three years in a faux South American country. On the eve of his planned escape the rebels add wealthy heiress and do-gooder Beth Pennington to their stash of hostages. Finn knows she’ll slow him down but Beth is determined to escape with him. Their trek through the rainforest, across an ocean, and into France has its dreadful moments but it’s also filled with a wicked humor I enjoy.
There is a story-flow issue that jerked my head up towards the end but, when it comes to the quality of narration, were my expectations met? All 90% of them and it was wonderful! Finn’s deep Irish voice and “we will do anything to stay alive” attitude was perfectly delivered and better than I could have imagined. Beth protects herself by keeping a calm control even in the worst of circumstances. I enjoyed that quiet confidence and how it was portrayed vocally as she held her own with Finn. It didn’t matter how obnoxious he tried to be, she had a quick comeback and never-give-up attitude to match him.
The general narration is audio at its best; you can hear the definition of words used by the intonation given them as they are spoken. Again, so impressive.
That remaining 10% that represents disappointment may be due to a matter of interpretation. I laughed all through On Thin Ice when I read in print. There were so many great lines as I found the book very funny even when the humor seemed totally inappropriate. Although I did smile and laugh during the audio version I didn’t hear Finn’s sly humor as he continually baited Beth. Nor did I hear nearly enough of Beth’s dry sarcasm in her quick one liner comebacks whether she was speaking aloud or in her head. And though I heard the characters’ voices lighten on occasion, I didn’t hear genuine laughter even with continued vocal cues such as “Finn laughed”, “Beth was laughing out loud”, or a soft rumble of laughter.
Am I being pickier than normal? Especially with a narration that will ultimately be a favorite re-lsten for me? Absolutely. Ms. Sands is a fast rising narrator who is nipping closely at the heels of the best-of-the-best in audio. If I can add to her other outrageously good skills by pointing out the fact that playing up the humor level both evens out the dark aspects and balances a narration, then I’m going to say it.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration B+ Book Content A-
Editor’s Note – This is one audiobook cover that definitely deserves some sort of award. It sets the mood and states the case.