4.5 “Choices” Stars for the story and 3 Stars for the narration by Aeron James.
Glad I finally had a chance to go back and listen to the book that started it all. Interestingly I had only experienced the White Years Quartet, so I think going back and listening to the Red Years Quartet, starting with The Siren, gives me a different perspective than those who have read this series in chronological order.
With certain secrets having already been revealed, there was no big twisty revelations, as I can only imagine at least one priestly revelation must have been in this book. For me, however, it allowed me to more dissect and really analyze the characters. I loved how Ms. Reisz has been remarkably consistent in her characterizations and moral persuasions of these characters throughout. It also made me appreciate how meticulous of a process writing The White Years must have been, as a number of the flashbacks in this book form the backbone of the story of the early years which of course is fleshed out in much more detail in The White Years.
As for the narration, I must admit that as these characters have already become so ingrained in my head, I’m afraid there was no way Aaron James could do them justice. For me, Nora could only be performed by a strong dominant female narrator. Moreover, even Soren didn’t sound quite right to me. He sounded too soft to be the powerful winter sensory provoking king that he is. Kingsley also didn’t sound quite right to me (even the French accent sounded off and to my admittedly American ears lacked genuineness).
I must admit that I was so engrossed in the story though that I let the narration pass for the most part without affecting my enjoyment of the story– even though it definitely didn’t fit my mental image/voice of the characters. However, I would love to hear this book recast with a new narrators using a duet narration. For such a treasured series, I think this would make the audiobook a 5+ star listen!
Source: Audible purchased copy.