Audiobook Review: Carpathia by Matt Forbeck

22 08 2012

Carpathia by Matt Forbeck

Read by Ralph Lister

Brilliance Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 20 Min

Genre: Horror

Quick Thoughts: Carpathia is an effective horror tale that blends history and Vampire Mythos into a truly frightening experience. Forbeck has created some wonderful characters and infuses his tale with an unsettling mood that really makes this horror tale work.

Grade: B

Sometimes, for some strange reason, I forget that Vampires are scary. Vampires have become a huge part of our culture. We can find Vampires as teenage love interests, declaring the number of the day on Sesame Street, and on the boxes of our children’s cereals. None of these images are scary. Yet, I can remember as a child being scared out of my mind the first time I watched Dracula on TV. I mean, scared, can’t sleep at night, noise is a monster coming to eat me scared. Vampires are scary because, for a species pretty much on the top of the food chain, they are predators. Somewhere, in the archetypical genetic memories of our distant past, the ideas of being stalked and eventually consumed is terrifying. With all the different versions of Vampires around today, the ones that only really scare me are the one that replace us on the top of the food chain. To me, it doesn’t matter so much what rules they follow, what tools can kill them, and just how smooth and suave they are. If they plan to hunt me down and kill me, well, that’s a bit scary. So many accoutrements have been placed on the vampire. I’m fine with that. The can be seductive, if they want, as long as their seductiveness is used to eat me.  Yet, I have to be a bit honest, the classic Stoker Vampire is probably the one that scares me the most. Maybe it comes from the time I was traumatized as a child by Bella Lugosi, but the classic, Euro-Trash, bat turning, blood sucking predator scares me every time.

The Titanic was supposed to be indestructible, but that tragic day when the largest ship in the world met its ill fated end, three friends, Lucy, Abe and Quin manage to save themselves and find their way to The Carpathia, a Steamship that had been heading to Eastern Europe. Rescued, and safe from the disaster, Quin is now attempting to let Lucy know his true feelings, despite the fact that she happens to be his best friend Abe’s girl. Yet, unbeknownst to most, within the bowels of the ship is a legion of Vampires, heading back to Europe in order to conceal their existence from the world. One Vampire, though, doesn’t want to conceal his existence. He wants to feed. Carpathia is old school horror that draws on Stoker’s classic Vampire mythos to create a truly frightening experience. Forbeck’s mix of History and legend is wonderfully conceived and effectively executed. I really enjoyed his often naive, yet well drawn out main characters. Forbeck manages some dark humor as Lucy, the young college bound suffragette, fights against the “woman and children first” mentality of her two competing beaus. The give and take of the characters, while dealing with an extremely unbelievable situation, gives the tale grounding in reality. Carpathia is full of action, and although I occasionally lost track of things and had to regroup, the scenes were relatively well executed. What Forbeck does well is infuse his tales with a sense of unease. He builds a mood that allows the terror of the tale to blossom. The concepts of being stuck on a boat with Vampires is pretty unsettling as it is, but Forbeck’s understanding of the mythology, and ability to draw out particularly tense moments enhanced the fright. While I am not as big as a Titanic buff as some others I know well, I thought his choice to set this tale at that time and places was inspired. His characters, having already gone through a tragedy, are already at wits end before the Vampires even begin their feeding. Carpathia is an effective horror tale that blends history and Vampire Mythos into a truly frightening experience. Forbeck has created some wonderful characters and infuses his tale with an unsettling mood that really makes this horror tale work.

Ralph Lister gives a solid performance in his reading of Carpathia. I found his handling of the ethnically diverse cast of this novel to be spot on. He manages such a strong array of accents and tones that all the characters are given their own life. Lister has an accessible reading style. He doesn’t try to do too much with the tale, just allows it to find its own organic pace. A few times, particularly during the extended actions scenes, I thought his pacing was just a bit fast, and I found myself needed to rewind the books just a bit to make sure I didn’t miss a key point. Now, this could also be due to my mood and distractibility at that moment, so I can’t entirely blame the narrator. Any little problems I may have had were more than made up by the other aspects of his reading which were impeccable. Carpathia definitely works well in audio, although I can’t promise pleasant dreams after listening.

Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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25 08 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

I may need to find a copy of this for a Halloween-ish listen.

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