The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Narrated by Pamela Garelick
The print version of this has been in my TBR pile for ages but I decided to wait for the audio version to come out. Big mistake. If not listening for review, I would have stopped in the first hour and turned to the print version. I remain fascinated by this post WWI ghost story that has been compared to some of Mary Stewart’s and Barbara Michael’s gothic romances, but do not recommend it in audio.
Sarah Piper has no friends, no family, and moves from temp position to temp position struggling to survive. Her desperation comes through in Ms. Garelick’s voice, but the age of the voice is all wrong. I had trouble figuring out how old Sarah is initially, as the narrator’s voice sounds anywhere from the late 40s to 60s, and when Sarah calls herself “girl” (as she frequently does early on), it was disconcerting. When Sarah reveals that she’s only 25, I had even more problems with the narration.
Sarah is hired to assist ghosthunter Alistair Gellis. This is no gentle ghost Alistair is after, but a truly mad ghost who suffered horribly while alive. The ghost won’t let men near her, so Alistair needs a female assistant. Ms. Garelick does differentiate between Sarah and Alistair’s voices; my problem is with how she differentiates. In their conversations, Sarah speaks in a very soft voice, while Alistair speaks in a very loud voice, as if every word out of his mouth is of the utmost importance. His voice drew me out of the story so much I was shocked when Sarah develops a fondness for him, and is flattered that other people consider them a couple. I found his voice so annoying that I expected her to be repelled by him.
We soon meet Alistair’s normal assistant, the gruff Matthew Ryder, and his voice is gruff and low, but fortunately Ms. Garelick has Matthew speak in a more normal tone of voice. Eventually, about three hours in, I got so caught up in the story I was able to ignore the narration. It helped that Alistair wasn’t on page as much by that point, because even in the latter portions of the book I could get pulled out of the story by Ms. Garelick’s portrayal of Alistair.
The first portions of The Haunting of Maddy Clare were just painful to listen to. After waiting so long for this to be available in audio, I really wish I’d read it in print. I can recommend the story, but not the audio version.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: D and Book Content: B