Audiobook Review: Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon

15 05 2011

Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon

Read by Karl Miller

Audible Frontiers

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse

Quick Thoughts: McKinnon offers a fast, savage Zombie tale in the spirit of Romero that will please hardcore zombie fans. Sadly, the unimaginative narration doesn’t allow the audiobook to reach its full potential. 

Grade: B

Continuing with my Zombie filled May, we come to Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon, the second Zombie audiobook review of the month, and the first of the newly released Permuted Press/Audible Frontiers collaboration. For me, of all the monsters out there, vampires, ogres, werewolves, ghost, ghouls and even those pesky alien space bats, zombies are the most horrifying. Unlike other monsters, zombies are us. They are humans stripped of their humanness. They are our brothers and sisters, friends and enemies. They are the guy who works the deli counter down the road, and the man who owns the franchise. You can sympathize with a zombie, pity them, and that is why they are dangerous. Who would hesitate when a wild animal or some inhuman creature crashed through your door trying to devour you and your family? Yet, if that monster was your neighbor Fred, who recently borrowed your hedge clippers, well, it’s hard not to hesitate. Yet, the best zombie tales are never really about the horrors of the undead, but the evils of the living. George Romero excelled at this in his movies, using the undead to reflect our social ills back on us. You would think in a world where the dead were actually rising, that the living would be able to put aside petty squabbles, and find a way to work together. Sadly, thinking it doesn’t make it so.

Of all the zombie tales I have either read or listened to, none seem to embrace the spirit of Romero as well as Domain of the Dead. Domain of the Dead is a short, savage read, without a lot of frills. McKinnon jumps us right into the middle of the Zombie Apocalypse, and never really lets us escape it. McKinnon embraces the tropes of the genre, giving us a tale that is full of zombie killing soldiers, arrogant pretentious scientists, boorish and obstinate leaders, and a couple of normal everyday civilians who serve as the outside perspective for the entire show. As Romero does so well, McKinnon’s breathing character are much more hazardous to themselves then the zombies. This is truly hardcore zombie lover’s fare. Those looking for a unique twist on the zombie genre will not find it here, yet those looking for someone who has embraced the classic zombie template will be in for a treat.

Sadly, some of the potential for this audiobook was diminished by the narration of Karl Miller. Miller isn’t a bad narrator, he has a pleasant tone, and speaks clearly and concisely, if at times dully. Yet, his subtle reading of the tale was not a great fit for the absolutely unsubtle zombie tale. A more performance oriented narrator could have brought more life to the characters, and increased the tension through better pacing and cadence. Miller had a lot of choices, most of the characters were undefined in terms of origin or accents, yet Miller chose default middle America for most of them, despite some obvious non-American idiosyncrasies by a Scottish author. Miller’s narration in no way makes the book unlistenable, the material, and his clear tones make for an overall positive experience, I just believe the whole experience would have been much more entertaining with a different style of narration.

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