The Turn of the Screw has been described by many critics as the most sophisticated and terrifying ghost story in the English language. It is considered one of the great intellectual "spook tales" of all time. The story concerns a naive young governess who is hired to take care of two children in a large mansion in the English countryside. Everything is going fine, until she discovers that the children are not as innocent as they seem. The governess believes they have been communing with the ghosts of the former valet and governess. The problem is no one else on the staff can see the ghosts. She alone suspects that the ghosts are controlling the young boy and girl for some evil purpose. The children are evasive when questioned, and the governess begins to fear that the souls of the two children may be in danger. Henry James manages to generate spine-tingling suspense in this mesmerizing tale.
After listening to a version of Jane Eyre as audiobook a few days before, I was excited to start another classic and chose The Turn of the Screw.
Henry James' long-sentenced, wordy style aside, which isn't included in this review, this audiobook had a few flaws. One very obvious one was the the sound was not at all consistent. At some times it went very quiet, other times normal, often wavering slowly between loud and quiet, just like an old cassette tape that had been played too often. It made me think that this had simply been digitized from some old worn out cassette tape. No other audiobook so far has done this, so I know it was not some sort of automatic iTunes sound setting.
The male narrator, Walter Zimmerman, was strong and clear, but unfortunately not there past the first couple of chapters. Though Cindy Hardin Killavey's accent was pleasant enough, her monotone made me frustrated by the middle-end of the book, and I found myself wanting to skip sections. Her monotone and James' wordy prose just made it feel like forever before the next chapter.
I don't think I'll listen to another book narrated by Killavey. A book, especially one like this, just needs more inflection and emotion.
I chose this recording of James' iconic story because the voice was clear and crisp. I particularly liked the way the reader changed vocal tones when reading the conversations. Nicely done!