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Roll Them Bones
David Niall Wilson
Narrated by Jeffrey Kafer, unabridged
Crossroad Press, 3 hours

Roll Them Bones
David Niall Wilson
Retired from the US Naval service, Wilson lives Norfolk, VA with his family. He has written under the pseudonyms Lucas Vancraven and Herb Greenhouse. Under his own name, he wrote the Star Trek: Voyager novels Chrysalis (1997) and This is My Blood (1995).

David Niall Wilson Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & the Currently Accepted Habits of Nature
SF Site Review: To Sift Through Bitter Ashes

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

David Niall Wilson (no relation) has created a nice little horror story with Roll Them Bones. It's one that could be read around a campfire or shared on Halloween. Actually, both fire and Halloween are elements that play a part in this book. Add in the fact that the audiobook is only about three hours in length and this makes for some chills to share just about anytime. For the average listener thinking about picking up this audiobook, allow me to oversimplify the story a bit. Take a little bit of Stephen King's It, sprinkle in a bit of The Blair Witch Project, and add in a huge hunk of Wilson's imagination and you are on this haunting hike in the woods called Roll Them Bones.

The story takes place in the fictional rural community of Random, Illinois, where, just like any small mid-western town, nothing much has changed in the last century. Kids grow up and move out of town. As the story begins, four school mates are reunited to finish off something that has haunted them and left them sleepless since they "burned a witch" one Halloween night in their youth. Even moving away from Random does not keep the nightmares at bay.

Jason, Frank, Ronnie and Lizzy were all friends in small Random, Illinois and one Halloween they decided to visit a witch that lived in the woods, where they all sought to have their fortunes told by the town's legendary haunter of the woods. The only problem was that once they reached the witch's campfire, things went all wrong. Frank, who grew up to be a famous horror novelist, learned the witch might have known some dirty secret about his family. Ronnie, known to his friends as "Redneck Ronnie," chickened out and went running into the woods. Meanwhile, Jason and Lizzy, who had a "thing" for each other, were soon witnesses to the witch's home burning down and killing the witch, or so they thought.

Now, years later, all have moved out of Random and gone on with their lives, with the exception of Ronnie, who stayed in Random. The problem is that they all are being haunted by nightmares of the witch. Frank manages to become famous writing stories about the experience, keeping the nightmares at bay. Unfortunately, that doesn't always do the trick. Ronnie goes out to the woods by the lake to discover that the cabin has "come back" and soon Frank requests they all get back together for a reunion of sorts in Random. Their reunion consists of returning to the cabin to make sure the witch is dead and to bring an end to their nightmares.

Soon after their arrival at the lake and cabin, many secrets are revealed and events happen that change their lives forever. This haunting tale is a fun little chiller that you may want to hear with all the lights on. While the story itself may be fun, the production of the audiobook has some elements that I must mention. The reader of this audio book, to my ear, was quite difficult to hear. His narration was monotone and his word emphasis seemed ill-placed. He read the novel as if it were a detective novel, better yet a "film noir" detective novel. Just picture Jack Webb (of TV's Dragnet fame) reading a horror story. The dry delivery really took a lot out of the performance.

Not to be completely negative, when Jeffrey Kafer was reading the dialogue between the characters, he was excellent -- separating the different characters by subtle voice changes. If the story had all been dialogue, then this would have been a great reading. However, the narration left me wishing that the characters would hurry up and get back to talking. Perhaps some listeners would prefer this style of delivery, but it didn't work for me. I had a hard time wanting to hear the rest of the story because of it.

Copyright © 2010 Gil T. Wilson

Gil T. has spent a quarter of a century working in radio and has lots of spare time on his hands and reading or listening to books takes up all that time. Check out his blog to find out what he's up to at any given moment.

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