Holiday for the Hostile, second book in the Hostile series, is probably even stranger than the first. Serena, plus her unusual friend and partner in crime, Tile X, reluctantly find themselves suffering a family holiday at her eccentric grandfather's hovel in Ireland. Who will escape intact from their dramatic holiday from Hell? A gripping paranormal thriller with a splash of horror.
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"I'm the best friend you have."
This is an unusual book made even more strange in this audio presentation. So much so, it is hard to quantify. Firstly, the main protagonist is a 14 year old girl and although written in the third person apart from a first person prologue is seen in large part from her point of view. It is inevitable filled with teenage angst, guilt and anger. And is juvenile. But there iare also some fairly violent, semi-graphic scenes of death and a lot of listing and sexual congress references, mixed with a fair amount of humour. It suggests a book to be lightheartedly enjoyed by adults looking for a fun story with a hint of paranormal horror, or older teens feeling grown up but naughty. However, the narration is such that it sounds like a book for older children, read in the sort of sing song reading, with wide ranging intonation and an eternal upbeat cadence reserved for telling silly stories of make-believe adventures. It certainly does not fit the content of this book. So for whom was it written?
The idea of the story is really fun: a tile which is able to cause injury or death, but only at the request of it's human companion, in this case the girl, Serina. She is one of seven children, living pretty miserably together with her mother, both her father and step dad having been killed off by Tile X previously. Temporarily blinded by the evil tile, she tries to get on with a normal life but, afraid it might hurt her again, carries it with her even when the whole family (other than one sister) are taken to Ireland to stay with her grandfather. None of them want to go.
Most characterisation is brief but enough to give a vague impression of the people, a sort of self obsessed teen's eye view of them. Almost all of them are unpleasant, human cartoons rather in the style of Rails Dahl. The author captures well the put upon attitude of a fourteen years old girl, especially one who also does feel at least a little responsible for the deaths of two parental figures but not enough to to see hurt of anyone else. It is funny and quirky, an entertaining light read for young adults and older adults alike.
But not as a listen. The narration is often very good. Alexander Roddy's pleasant voice is well accented for the location of the story, namely Manchester, in England, and his vocalisations of the different characters is great, being distinctive and individual, well suited to each person speaking. But it is the reading of the between conversation text which is so perculiar. Very enthusiastic but with a wry twist, his intonations soar up and down without much relevance to what has been written and there are odd out of place pauses where none need to exist but none at all where they would be welcome, for example at the end of a chapter. At first, this just seemed to add quirkiness to the story. By half way through, it had become a maddening distraction. And, as previously mentioned, raised considerable doubt over who was expected to be hearing this book.
I was freely gifted my copy of Holiday for the Hostile, by the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. My thanks for that: it was an experience. I cannot recommend it, however, as I really cannot see a suitable audience - the story is too old for the very young style of narration. Better to buy the print book.
- Norma Miles
Exciting and emotionally charged narration
Weird, Worrying and Wonderful. This novel is well off the wall, creates a great sense of unease but is great for all that.
Scalps hanging from trees
A sense of tension
Jimmy Poodles' demise
- Shaun Green