Ears on the Odyssey

Review: Last Things

A small piece of narration brilliance! Don’t miss this dark tale of supernatural magical realism, reviewed by Colleen Seisser.

Set in Northern Minnesota, this magical realism story centers on Anders and Thea. Anders, still in high school, is a rock god in his small town. Thea appears to be that one diehard fan that is just a little creepy; she is at every show and watches him all the time, but she watches from afar and keeps to herself. However, this is not the story of how one stalker goes too far…Thea and Anders’ connection goes much deeper. Thea is protecting Anders. Thea knows about the Dark Things, she knows what Anders did, and she knows that the Dark Things will stop at nothing to take over Anders.

One thing that I appreciated most about this production is its dynamic use of dual narrators: Lisa Flanagan narrates Thea, and Josh Bloomberg narrates Anders. I admit that I love dual narrators, especially when they play off of each other. Both Flanagan and Bloomberg have similar voicing tricks for consistent character narration. I’d like to think that they compare notes, but I am sure there are many different ways to achieve this in a production. When I listen, having consistent character voicing across narrators  elevates the story for my ears. It feels authentic because I am receiving the story from each of the main character’s perspectives and they represent the story the same ways. A great example of this in Last Things is Thea’s voicing. She is described as being very different from everyone else in town and therefore each narrator gives her speaking voice an “other” quality–for both it is a stilted pattern that makes her speak very precisely.

For the rest of the production I did think that Lisa Flanagan was more engaging to listen to, if only because it was at times hard to listen to Bloomberg’s more feminine female voices. However, Bloomberg’s cat noises for Anders’ aged cat, Goblin, are fantastic!! Truly, a small piece of narration brilliance! Pick this audiobook up if you are in the mood for a dark listen or if you, like me, love supernatural magical realism fiction with a strong atmospheric setting!

Last Things, by Jacqueline West, narrated by Lisa Flanagan and Josh Bloomberg. 11 hours. HarperAudio, 2019.

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