| Storm Front, an interesting tale that is still searching for a voice...
Let me preface this article by stating that this audio book was my first introduction into the world of Dresden. I am also new to the world of audio books. I am a bit of a bibliophile and have always enjoyed the feel of a book in my hands. When I was handed these discs I was quite excited by the prospect of a story that encompassed two of my favorite types of stories into one new mega-genre, a mix of the supernatural and the old-time detective story. When I opened the box and discovered there were 8 discs I was a little taken aback (each disc is approx. one hour long). Well, I settled back, the subject matter was interesting to me... the voice actor they chose to read Dresden is one I adore... it couldn't be that bad I thought.
Storm Front is the first title in a popular series of books about a wizard and private investigator - Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. The series is written by Jim Butcher, and saw further popularity when it was optioned as a TV series titled The Dresden Files on the SciFi Channel.
The story begins with Dresden, a wizard for hire, (who advertises his services in the phonebook) and him discussing his need for work. Several phone calls later he is knee deep in work. It takes on the form of a traditional detective story at first. (Unlikely hero hired by "normal" client to solve a large mystery that only he can help with.) The imagery painted with the words is amazing and you feel captured by the story.
This audio book is narrated by James Marsters (Spike in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Brainiac/Professor Fine on the TV series Smallville). At first his reading voice strikes me as mellow and soothing.
Until just a few moments into the first disc when he switches to a new character. It is such a jarring switch that it is almost comedic. I am pretty sure from the text it was not meant to be that way. It seemed to me there was a lack of direction. James' dry reading of the text is fine for the monologues and narrations... some would even say highly appropriate given the character, but when other characters are added into the picture the dialogue is weak.
There are parts in the story that feel quite rushed. The timing is off in a lot of the chapters. There are times when a line is noticeably stumbled through and the narrator doesn't correct himself (or the editors don't bother to fix it). Background noise (such as page turning and ambient sounds) are detectable. The chapter transitions are notable in that they feel quite abrupt. I even heard sighing at one point. It feels as if the story is being read and not dramatized. All of these things took me out of the story.
As a whole, I really found the story to be quite interesting... it is the delivery that was lacking. Was it a directorial problem or an editorial problem? I am not sure. I would be reluctant to recommend this audio book to people who are new to Dresden's world. But these discs would be a good addition to the library of James Marsters or Jim Butcher fans. Perhaps for those new to the universe it's best to pick up a paperback copy first.