Audiobook Review: Some Kind of Fairly Tale by Graham Joyce

26 07 2012

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce

Read by John Lee

Blackstone Audio

Length: 9 Hrs 57 Min

Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: Some Kind of Fairy Tale is a beautiful, vivid tale of relationships colored with a touch of the fantastic. Joyce never spoon feeds his readers but creates a vibrant mosaic for each person to translate on their own. Some Kind of Fairy Tale is simply wonderful storytelling and one of the most rewarding tales I have experienced this year.

Grade: A

Listening to Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce led me to a very important life decision. I have decided that if someone I love tells me they were abducted by fairies, I’m just going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Now, I really don’t believe in fairies, but I know that there are plenty of things about this world that I don’t know or understand and I am willing to keep an open mind. Far too often, in fiction, we see a character come to loved ones with a fantastic story, alien abduction, doppelgangers, chupacabra attacks, CIA mind reading teams or the family dog talking to them, and people just decide that these previously sensible people have gone off their rockers. As readers of fiction, we decry these actions, asking why, or why, don’t they just listen to this person telling them of the deep conspiracy involving oil conglomerates, a rouge NSA agent and dolphin’s telepathy? Even worse, this person may actually have supernatural powers that the person has relied upon before, but “Oh no…” this time it’s just too over the top to listen to their mind reading, ghost whispering, werewolf hunting loved one. Well, I have decided to not be that guy.  I decided to be the one person in that person’s life that they can turn to for a non-judgmental, and maybe a bit gullible, ear. I will be the person who buys the tin foil for hat making purposes, or ties them down in iron so fairies won’t drag them off to a land of sensual pleasures. I really think it’s the least I can do.

After a fight with her boyfriend, Tara Martin wonders off in the woods, and disappears, only to show up 20 years later on Christmas day at her patents doorsteps, looking remarkably young for her age. Tara’s returns rips open the wounds of her disappearance for the Martin Family, particularly her brother Peter, and her boyfriend Richie. Yet, when she tells the story of the cause of her disappearance, and the six months she spends living in a strange village, her loved one need to decide whether she is simply lying, or has lost her mind. Some Kind of Fairy Tale is exactly as the title suggests, a fairy tale of a different sort. Yes, there are moments of magic and a definite feeling of otherness that flirts around the edges of the tale, but at its core the story is about reality. Tara’s unbelievable tale, while hurtful and confusing to those who loves her, is also the catalyst to this broken group of wonderful characters finding the strength to overcome the past and fix their relationships. Joyce’s prose is delightful, and full of whimsy. His descriptions of Peter’s family life, with its everyday tasks and children’s insistent pestering had the feel of an old nursery rhyme. He describes the mundane with a rhythmic poetry that gives the realism an almost magical feel. Tara’s sessions with her psychiatrist are especially well done, with Tara’s belief in her magical story battling against the doctors belief of her confabulation. In many ways, Tara needs to believe her dark tales, as it has altered her perception of and ability to live with reality, and the Doctor needs to believe her tale is covering for a traumatic event as it has profound affects on his past. .Joyce allows his characters to develop with the mysteries, having each characters secrets revealed as a counterpoint to Tara’s story. It all comes together beautifully, with an ending that tickles the imagination of the skeptics and places enough doubts for the accepting fantasists. Joyce’s endings are never clean, but complex revelations that allows the readers to answer their own questions, and Some Kind of Fairly Tale is no exception. Some Kind of Fairy Tale is a beautiful, vivid tale of relationships colored with a touch of the fantastic. Joyce never spoon feeds his readers but creates a vibrant mosaic for each person to translate on their own. Some Kind of Fairy Tale is simply wonderful storytelling and one of the most rewarding tales I have experienced this year.

John Lee brings the perfect approach in his narration of Some Kind of Fairy Tale. Lee is telling you the tale with the rhythms of a bedtime story, capturing the magical edges of Joyce’s prose with natural skill. His characters are fully realized and as complicated as Joyce writes them. Yet, there was one aspect of the audiobook that gave me mixed feelings. Lee only slightly alters his baritone voice  when he reads Tara’s accounts of her time living in the fairy village. While his reading was appropriate in tone and rhythm, I wonder if these segments would have been more effective with a female narrator. It’s a tough question for me, because the rest of his work is utterly brilliant, and his reading of these segments is well done, but it was also the only points of the book that Lee’s narration pulled me out of Joyce’s world. I am really torn about whether it would have been worth the narrator transition to bring in a female narrator for these scenes, but it was something I though about as I listened. Despite this one thing, Some Kind of Fairy Tale was simply brilliant, and I would highly recommend it to anyone whether they like a good fairy tale or not.

Note: Tanks to Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

Stefan of Far Beyond Reality is currently running a giveaway for 12 Print copies of this wonderful novel. So, check out Stefan’s review of Some Kind of Fairy Tale, then sign up for his giveaway,

Audiobook Review: The Silent Land by Graham Joyce

30 04 2011

The Silent Land: A Novel by Graham Joyce

Read by John Lee

Blackstone Audio

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: An Epic Love story set apart for its intimate look at a genuine couple in a unique situation, read well by the narrator.

Grade: B+

It’s been a long time since I read anything by Graham Joyce, probably too long. Joyce was always one of those authors who could blend genres, whether it be horror, romance, fantasy and science fiction seamlessly, and create something distinctly his own. Sadly, until recently, his work has not been produced in audio form, which I personally believe it would translate very well into. So, when I saw that his latest novel, The Silent Land was being offered as an audiobook, I was excited. It’s hard to talk about expectations when discussing one of Joyce’s novels, because each of his novels that I have read has been quite unique. So, I had no idea of what to expect. The basic synopsis appealed to me, a married couple on a ski vacation escape from an avalanche, to discover that there is no else around. As a fan of Post Apocalyptic novels, this concept fascinated me. Not that I was expecting a Post Apocalyptic novel, but like Shelley’s The Last Man, or MP Sheil’s The Purple Cloud, the element of being left alone in our world is both frightening, and intriguing.

The Silent Land is, in truth, an epic love story. The fantastical background that Joyce creates is just that, the canvas that reveals the art. I have never been a huge fan of the Epic Love story, because typically, the players involved just don’t seem authentic to me, or are themselves epic in nature, a state of being that I just cannot relate to. Yet, Zoe and Jake, our couple, are not epic personas, but a truly real couple. They do not allow the strangeness of their situations prevent them from fighting over petty issues. They argue, make love, tease and are often cruel. They are simply a real couple, in an increasing unreal situation. Joyce doesn’t force the romance down our throats, he just develops the characters in such a way that their love becomes obvious. Joyce doesn’t try to use tricks to garner an emotional response, either. While the novel is in part a mysterious fantasy, he doesn’t leave the audience dragging for too long, revealing the scope of the world that Zoe and Jake inhabit, yet still leaving enough up in the air to allow for a satisfying ending. The Silent Land works like a puzzle, Joyce shows you all the pieces, and when they all finally come together, you are left satisfied with the entirety of the picture presented to you. 

It was interesting to hear John Lee tale on such a small, intimate novel. My experiences with Lee have been huge, epic novels like The Pillars of the Earth, or multi-character science fiction tale, like Baxter/Clarke’s Time Odyssey series. John Lee has a crisp, strong voice, with a decent range to handle multiple characters. Here Lee doesn’t need to use his range as much, since he is mostly dealing with two characters. I liked Lee’s reading to The Silent Land. He brought a steady matter of fact tone to the narration, never trying to play whimsical or mysterious, just allowing the words to speak for themselves. His characterizations of Jake and Zoe were well done. Lee found the right tone for the couple whether they where arguing cruelly, or just engaging in playful teasing. The Silent Land wasn’t my favorite Joyce novel, but hopefully the success of this audio adaptation will lead to more of his works being brought to the audio format.


Note: A special thank you to the good people at Blackstone Audio for providing me with a copy of this audiobook. You can purchase this audiobook at all major bookseller sites, or at Blackstone’s own website HERE.