Audiobook Review: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ by Kerri Maniscalco

The sequel to ‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’, this is equally gripping and dramatic historical fiction set in Romania, with the majority of the story taking place at the school of forensic medicine that is housed in the castle that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler. 

The book blends history, folklore, horror and forensic mystery genres in a uniquely twisting tale in which Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell once again seek to solve a series of mysterious deaths.

The action is well paced, heightened by plenty of suspense and intrigue. There are plenty of mysterious characters and viable suspects, and the story is so well constructed that the truth almost imperceptible until it is revealed. 

The narration by Nicola Barber is excellent, and gives a great deal of listening pleasure. 

‘Hunting Prince Dracula’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or novel here

Audiobook Review: ‘The Book Of Abisan’ by CH Clepitt

Anyone who has read a book or two by CH Clepitt will understand that it is perfectly reasonable to expect that everything she writes is a ripping good yarn. ‘The Book Of Abisan’, in which contemporary fiction blends seamlessly with magical fantasy, is the kind of book that only reinforces that sort of assumption. It’s brilliant. 

The storytelling is well paced and infused with moments of humour that balance the action and intrigue of the plot. The storyline is original and interesting, and the suspense and tension are palpable as the mysteries and quests of the story emerge and interweave. 

The various settings contrast well with one another and serve to highlight the sense of strangeness the characters experience when they find themselves in a juxtaposed world. This also keeps the reader fully engaged in the story because there is nothing predictable about where the story might take them next… which is, of course, half the fun. 

The characters are varied and complex, each with personal motivations that drive their actions and decision making. There are some really wonderful characters who keep the reader invested in their personal stories as well as the tale overall, and others who are designed to be hateful and play that part very well. 

The Audible narration is very good, with excellent vocal control and variations in tone and voice that help to develop both plot and characterisation. The narrator’s voice is pleasant and her diction clear, although she does say “somethink” instead of “something”, which is the one minor thing that bothered me during this audiobook experience. Apart from that, Alicia Rose is pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. 

This highly engaging and absorbing story has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

‘The Book Of Abisan’ is available as either an audiobook or a novel

Audiobook Review: ‘The King’s Hounds’ by Martin Jensen

‘The King’s Hounds’ is a murder mystery set in Oxford during the reign of King Cnut. An unlikely duo, Winston and Halfdan form a friendship that is still in its early stages when they find themselves assigned the job of investigating the murder and reporting their findings to the king, a task complicated by an abundance of suspects and plenty of obstructions along the way. 

The reader is immersed in the sights and sounds of medieval England, culturally divided between those of Anglo-Saxon and Danish/Viking origins just as Cnut has come to the throne, which places the events of the story in the year of 1016. The resulting climate of distrust and resentment adds further difficulty and intrigue to the case: the king himself is not above suspicion in the death of a prominent Anglo-Saxon thane. 

The characters are very well developed, and are characterised effectively by the narrator. The contrast between the conservative Winston and the rogueish Halfdan creates some entertaining moments, but also enables each of them to play to his strengths when challenged by the various situations and problems they encounter. 

The story is interesting and entertaining, and quite well told. The dialogue is a little stilted at times and not quite consistent with the way people spoke during that period of history, but this may be accounted for by the fact that the book was translated from Danish into English. 

The narration by Napoleon Ryan is noticeably slow, but before I was far into the book, I began to feel that this was something of an advantage, because it gave me time to take in all the detail of the story. 

An enjoyable and interesting book, ‘The King’s Hounds’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy of the audiobook or the novel

Audiobook Review: ‘The White Russian Caper’ by Phyllis Entis


Damien and Millie return in the second instalment of the Damien Dickens mystery series, ‘The White Russian Caper‘ is a mystery adventure that takes the reader from Atlantic City to Hollywood— erm… Florida, in pursuit of the answers they are commissioned to find.

As in all good mysteries, there are plenty of viable suspects and some most intriguing complications and twists.

Tom Lennon delivers another excellent detective-noir style narration with clarity, easy pace, and very good characterisations of the various roles in the story.

Like the first in the series, this audiobook comes highly recommended, and has received a Gold Acorn.

Find your copy of the novel or the audiobook

Book Review: ‘The Queen’s Poisoner’ by Jeff Wheeler

This is a fascinating story – the entirely original characters, locations and magical elements make it fantasy, yet it is overlaid on a foundation of elements of history in The Wars of the Roses and the life story of the English king Richard III. The way in which those historical elements are drawn upon and interwoven throughout the story and rich layers of complexity and interest to the story. The reader becomes deeply engaged in the story as it unfolds, particularly when the key characters are faced with danger or discovery.

The characters are vividly portrayed, crafted to engage the reader’s empathy for the protagonist, a young boy named Owen, and those who prove themselves his friends. There is also a good range of characters for whom the reader enjoys contempt and significant distrust— indeed, disliking them is actually a pleasurable experience.

The Audible narration of the book is clearly read and quite expressive, although occasionally sounds a little flat and stilted – perhaps in contrast to the great use of voice and tone to deliver effective characterisation when the characters speak. While this may cause trifling annoyance for the listener from time to time, it  did not prove to be an issue sufficient to really affect the listener’s enjoyment of the story itself. 

The first novel in what promises to be a most excellent and enjoyable series, The Queen’s Poisoner has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here.

Audiobook Review: ‘The Green Pearl Caper: A Damien Dickens Mystery’ by Phyllis Entis

‘The Green Pearl Caper’ is a very enjoyable detective-noir style whodunnit story that keeps the audience guessing right to the end. The narration by Tom Lennon really suits the style of the story, very reminiscent of the black and white private eye movies that used to play on Saturday afternoon TV.

The story is well constructed, developing at a good pace while keeping the reader guessing until the end. There are plenty of characters, both major and minor, who could  be suspects, and the first person perspective of Damien Dickens invites the audience to develop theories and speculate on the evidence as more than an onlooker. 

This was a really engaging audiobook, and I am glad to know there are more in the series. 

‘The Great Pearl Caper’ has been awarded a Silver Acorn. 

Find your copy here

Audiobook Review: ‘Chalk Outline’ by Veronica L Smith

A suspenseful and dramatic detective story.

Children are disappearing and being found dead in alleys. Jake and Darius  are the detectives whose job it is to find out who is responsible. 

The trail is not without complications, and the investigation gets personal  for both officers before they can solve the case. 

‘Chalk Outline’ is a compelling and suspenseful story, narrated very effectively by Todd Waites in a style that at times sounds as much like a reporter as it does a storyteller, which adds to the sense of urgency and gives an air of reality to the narration. The narrator also makes very good use of voice and tone to denote the various characters, 

The story rises to a dramatic climax that keeps the reader’s heart well and truly in their throat as they listen, unable to do anything to change the outcome and having to look on as the action unfolds. 

An excellent audiobook experience, ‘Chalk Outline’ has been awarded a Gold Acorn. 

Find your copy here