Dark Woods, Deep Water

Spotify Audiobooks. Mar. 2024. 9:14 hrs. ISBN 9798368961613. $56.99. FANTASY
Once upon a time, three people were leading normal lives. Ida, a traveling healer turned con artist, used her wits to stay ahead of starvation. Elisya, a haughty rural noble, went to a tournament where she engaged in a disastrous affair. Telani was an assassin–turned–secretary to an aging prince champion. None of the three wanted to take the tiny forest path to a crumbling castle, but all were forced to. Now all are trapped within the cursed grounds. Before they can even think of escape, they must first survive the night. Dunato’s grim fairy-tale debut is ruthlessly paced, pulling listeners through her cohesively anachronistic world and the characters’ backstories. Switching viewpoints and timelines between chapters keeps the audience off-balance and invested. Narrators Charlie Sanderson and Barnaby Edwards perform masterfully with consistent Eastern European accents. Sanderson changes accent and pitch to communicate differences between Ida and Elisya’s chapters, and her choice of inhaled gasps for Morana, the death goddess, is both creepy and technically impressive.
VERDICT A must-listen for fans of folklore and fantasy with an Eastern European bent. Tense and captivating.
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