I've mentioned before how I listen to books. Going to and from work, often on the bus I'll listen to a book since looking down and reading makes me feel ill. Today, I did a mix of two things - first I listened to music and wrote on my phone (new app, called Plaintext, recommended to me by Jeffrey Ricker, and the influence of Rebekah Weatherspoon who often writes on her phone) until I started to feel queasy because of the motion - a thousand words later, mind you. Then I listened to the end of an audio novella I'd been enjoying for the last couple of days.
There are different things to take into account with an audio experience. The reader has to perform - often I find the biggest issue is a reader who can't do different voices and who tries to do so. It's usually fine if a reader can't really give different accents or sounds to particular voices and they don't attempt it - after all, if the author has done their job, the different voices will come through. But if a reader tries and fails to do a good job at different characters, that can ruin the effect.
This, happily, wasn't at all the case for my experience.
"Undead Sublet," by Molly Harper
I like vampire tales as much as the next person, but what I think Molly Harper did here that was so clever was to take the dark angsty side of the vampire and pretty much completely ignore it in favor of something else: vampire taste buds.
Let me explain. The set-up for this story is this: executive chef Tess Maitland - who has had a bit of a meltdown due to a jerk of a boss (also her ex), an impossible work schedule, and no sleep - is on "sabbatical." She comes to Half Moon Hollow and rents a house near where her former Chef and mentor lives, hoping to sleep, eat, rest, and get back into fighting shape to return to the city and reclaim her kitchen, restaurant, and status as one of the few women to make it in the wretchedly competitive world of gourmet cooking. There's a slight problem - in the basement of the house she's renting, there's a vampire. And he's the soon-to-be ex-husband of the woman who rented the place to Tess - which means he has a right to be there, too.
Thus begins a war between the chef and the vampire to see who cam make life (or unlife) the most uncomfortable. Except somewhere during the pranking and the wonderful characters of Half Moon Hollow she meets, Tess starts to realize something: she hasn't felt this good in ages.
Fun, light, and incredibly funny, "Undead Sublet" is a novella set between books in an ongoing series about Half Moon Hollow. I didn't know that when I listened to it, and while there are some throw-away lines that made me think I was missing a reference to a previous story, this was a fully self-contained tale of its own, and I didn't feel like I'd walked into the book without enough information. That's a big compliment to pay about a book that belongs to a series, as it's hard to pull off.
Not only was the writing enjoyable, the reader was great - Sophie Eastlake had a real knack for comedic timing, and the story itself made me laugh out loud multiple times (especially during the pranking, and while inside Tess's head whilst she is cursing up a storm). I'll definitely seek out more from both of them.