Friday Review: Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar (Audio) Written and Narrated by Neil Gaiman

Rating: 5 stars

I don’t usually listen to audio books. I lose the concentration, and my mind starts to wander. I find I’ve missed minutes worth of the narrative, and have to backtrack. But I love Gaiman’s work, and this was offered as a free download with a preview of his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. And I had a period of time where I knew I would be waiting for a while, and decided to listen to it.

I have said this before, and will keep repeating it until it happens: I want Neil Gaiman to come and read ALL my books to me. Seriously. Not only does he have the most awesome British accent, but his pacing and voicing are spot on. I could listen  to him read the phone book, and be happy.

The story is about American tourist Benjamin Lassiter, who is on a walking tour of British coastal villages. He is using a guidebook that turns out to be rather unconventional. He stumbles into a fishing  village, and in the local pub, encounters Seth and Wilf, two locals with their own odd personalities. As he talks to the two men, he finds that the ale served is not the only peculiar thing here.

The story is an homage to, first and foremost, H.P. Lovecraft, and the references are direct and obvious. But it also pulls from the comedy of Dudley Moore and Peter Cook, though one does not have to know the reference to enjoy the story. This is one of the gems in Gaiman’s work: he pulls from many sources, some perhaps unfamiliar to much of his audience, but is deft enough in the use that the reader does not have to be intimately familiar to enjoy.

The narration  is more than enjoyable. As I indicated above, Gaiman is a terrific narrator, and it is obvious he enjoys the material. He gives each character his own voice without resorting to affected or forced acting.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this story, and will consider other audio works- especially if Neil Gaiman is reading.