A bit of a change from my usual pick to start off this month.
The Sound at the End
On a near-abandoned research base in an Arctic ice field, a skeleton crew works to ensure the centre doesn’t collapse amid treacherous storms. Officially, Trieste Grayling arrives in order to explore and film a sunken shipwreck for a documentary film; privately, she’s working through a complicated grief. Trieste soon realises she’s not the only one who was attracted to this intense isolation in order to escape her ghosts.
Each of the crew members harbour dark secrets: Mal, the ever-competent medic conducting mysterious therapy sessions, Sweetie, the reclusive engineer with scarred hands, Thorsteinn, the aloof diver tender, Avelina, the temperamental base manager whose stories of home don’t quite add up, Grace, an underwater welder and recovering addict, and Judd, the erratic former member of a ‘90s boy band. As they begin to reach breaking point, each one’s hidden ghosts finally comes into the light.
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this audiobook as I haven’t really experienced many that have been made for the sole purpose of being an audiobook, I wasn’t sure if it would be for me but I wanted to try it anyway because the description sounded amazing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite the right choice for me, this book definitely has horror vibes and I am really not that keen on the genre, so bear that in mind whilst reading.
I feel like I have experienced a few books lately that have loads of promise and potential and then just don’t quite land where I expected, this book is definitely one of them. It started out really interesting, a remote setting is always a plus for me but one that is so isolated and with constant danger means there is already a lot of good tension in the story. Getting to know the characters through what Trieste discovers about them was another thing that kept me interested in the story as you could tell that everyone had demons that they were trying to escape.
Then the story takes a bit of a turn, therapy tapes conducted by Mal are introduced and start to show that this is something more than just minor issues, and this is where I kind of lost my way with the story. I think I was having trouble deciding if this was by design, as Mal seems to be pushing some kind of therapy that is not approved of, or whether it was due to the environment, or whether it was something that I just didn’t pick up on because the characters start to act so differently. The kind of change that for some doesn’t really match what we have witnessed so far, so it felt a little like the timeline was a bit off.
There were also a lot of things mentioned that didn’t really have any explanation and I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why they were relevant or waiting for it to become clear as I got further into the story but that didn’t seem to happen either. At the end of the story I was left with far more questions than answers and whilst it was definitely chilling and creepy I didn’t come away feeling satisfied, because I felt like I had missed something.
The production was great for the most part, full of different sound styles and purposeful distortion and it really worked against the context of the story. Each of the characters had their own voice and the narrators did a great job adding to the suspense of the story, there were a couple of times that I did find it hard to listen mostly when Trieste was scared and it was very dramatic heavy breathing because that did sometimes get a bit repetitive. However, I do think the style of this audiobook is what kept me coming back even when I wasn’t really sure what was going on.
As I said this genre isn’t really my cup of tea but I still feel like this story had a lot of good elements that didn’t quite deliver and whilst the production overall was impressive, the story left me with one too many questions to be able to recommend.