Review of Fangland by John Marks

July 4, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Fangland by John MarksFangland
By John Marks; Read by Ellen Archer and others
10 CDs – Approx. 12.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 1400103592
Themes: / Horror / Fantasy / Vampires / Romania / New York / Television /

In the annals of business trips gone horribly wrong, Evangeline Harker’s journey to Romania on behalf of her employer, the popular television newsmagazine The Hour, deserves pride of place. Sent to Transylvania to scout out a possible story on a notorious Eastern European crime boss named Ion Torgu, she has found the true nature of Torgu’s activities to be far more monstrous than anything her young journalist’s mind could have imagined. The fact that her employer clearly won’t get the segment it was hoping for is soon the very least of her concerns.

Authors are supposed to write what they know. If John Marks is writing what he knows there’s one hell of a story that 60 Minutes never aired. As a former producer for that show Marks brings what feels like a pure authenticity to all the scenes revolving around the New York office politics and what it takes to make a show like 60 Minutes. Those office characters really do feel like those craggy faced reporters we’ve seen on 60 Minutes all these decades. And if for nothing nothing else, this makes Fangland a unique experience.

The plot should be very familiar to most, it’s a fairly faithful retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Differences being that Fangland is set in the modern day, a post-9/11 New York and a post-Soviet Romania. Like the original novel Fangland is told in epistolary form. That is, its chapters are entire emails, letters or notes, written by witnesses recalling recent events. But, at the novels culmination Marks breaks out of letter writing. The transition isn’t too jarring. Making the Jonathan Harker character female adds a new flavor to the flow. I can’t say as how the paperbook was received, but with this audio version, we get four terrific readers. This is a well selected cast of familiar Tantor voices. Ellen Archer predominates, as she voices Evangeline. She’s sympathetic, a little naive, but a confident modern woman confronted by a terror from Transylvania’s ancient past. Todd McLaren, Michael Prichard, and Simon Vance then take turns playing her 60 Minutes The Hour producers, other on-air reporters, a concerned father, the fiance and more. The novel runs a little too long, mostly in the middle. In terms of pay-offs though, the only thing this novel didn’t deliver on was an Andy Rooney (or equivilent) column at the end. I kept expecting Andy to show up and start telling us what bugs him about ‘being undead’ or some such.

This is not a classic, but if you dig vampires, Stoker’s Dracula, or Horror fiction that doesn’t come out of a modern horror tradition, you’ll quite dig Fangland. I’d stake my reputation in it.

Posted by Jesse Willis