COLDHEART CANYON By Clive Barker (Audiobook) Read by Frank Fuller – Reviewed

This is huge, it’s epic. The novel is 751 pages, and the audiobook is 1360 minutes! Which is long, really long. What we have here would make an excellent and fairly brutal short novel, stretched out beyond all necessity into a massive, sprawling tale of Hollywood excess. A ghost story at its heart.

Actor and superstar Todd Pickett’s career is on the wane. On the advice of a studio executive he goes to see the premier plastic surgeon, who promptly botches his face-lift, leaving Todd a mass of scar tissue and wounds. As the tabloid frenzy around his disappearance begins, Todd needs to find a nice hideaway so that he can relax and recuperate. But unfortunately he finds himself in Coldheart Canyon, home to many a ghost from Hollywood’s past, and Katya Lupi, a near hundred-year-old former movie star who has managed to retain her looks for the past eighty years.

Intermixed with this is a stalker fan, a portrait of the dirty-nasty underbelly of Hollywood, Satan’s wife and son, an ancient curse, and all manner of other stuff.

Despite an excellent reading, it even feels like Frank has had enough about three quarters of the way through. He ploughs on, giving us a nice change of voice for each of the characters, although it does get a bit confusing towards the end when all the characters are together. The problem with the audiobook, is the same problem the novel has. It’s just too long, too long-winded, like Barker is being paid by the word. Of course, in book form it’s probably not quite so evident, but the audiobook version becomes like water torture as it continually continues, seemingly without end. Just when you think it’s all done and dusted, I won’t spoil it for you, but it could well have been the end, you’re forced to endure another several hours of what could have been summed up quite well in a ten-page epilogue.

This is a shame, because the reading is good. For my first professional venture into audiobooks (I usually download for free from librivox), I was delighted. To begin with anyway. A shame it was wasted on this overlong rubbish.

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