This review is spoiler-free.
On a near-abandoned research base in an Arctic ice field, a skeleton crew works to ensure the centre doesn’t collapse amid treacherous storms. Officially, Trieste Grayling arrives in order to explore and film a sunken shipwreck for a documentary film; privately, she’s working through a complicated grief. Trieste soon realises she’s not the only one who was attracted to this intense isolation in order to escape her ghosts.
The Sound at The End is a Bafflegab production, who have produced the likes of Arkham County, and my personal favourite, The Scarifyers! With that in mind, I was confident the production quality would be strong, and I was not disappointed! Ken Bentley’s wonderful direction oversees an outstanding audio production. The story uses video logs and recordings to tell its tale and the editorial choices from editor and sound designer Richard Fox were creative! Sticking with the sound aspects, Howard Carter’s score is very fitting for the production and really blends well with the narrative and characters – there are some incredibly emotional beats that the music works well by enhancing and elevating certain scenes. So, it sounds good, which is obviously important for an audiobook, but what about the story?
This is my first-time experiencing work by, the award-winning, Kirsty Logan and upon completion of The Sound at The End, I found myself following it up with another of her books, The Gracekeepers, which I also really enjoyed. Logan’s ability to craft an entertaining and engaging story, that builds up perfectly as everything unfolds, was impressive and I loved the layers of isolation and impending demise that were beautifully woven into the fabric of the main arc. But for me, what I truly loved about The Sound at The End was the way in which Logan handled her characters. Every single character is incredibly complex, and you really get sucked into their history and the emotions they experience within the framework of the story. The relationships, the trauma, the humanity, all of these are in perfect balance within the writing and Kirsty Logan has created such real and engrossing characters.
As for the performers, Freya Mavour (Skins, The Darkwater Bride on Audible) and Yasmin Mwanza (Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Lady of Heaven) are sensational as Trieste and Grace. I loved Mavour’s performance in The Darkwater Bride and I could honestly listen to her all day long, she is an incredibly gifted performer! Likewise, Mwanza brought so much to her own performance and things are taken to the next level when both Mavour and Mwanza share scenes together. Their chemistry and relationship, both performance-wise and as characters, was one of the audiobook’s brightest elements. Supporting these incredibly gifted performers, we have the likes of Laurel Lefkow (The Alienist, The Sandman on Audible) as Mal. I’m a big fan of her work and was pleased she was given such a fascinating character to play here. Lefkow has also appeared in various Alien audiobooks and does a wonderful impression of Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley. There was also Clive Russell (Game of Thrones, Ripper Street) as Sweetie, who is such a seasoned performer, and he fits into the story perfectly.
So, the negatives? The story is very much a slow burner, and I personally don’t see this as a negative, because I like my story and characters to build up organically, so I can invest myself into things more. The pay-off is incredible and is worth the wait! But if you want your story a bit more ‘unrelenting’ then this might not be the audiobook for you. But like I said, I personally didn’t have this issue! While I have praised the production and the creative choices taken, you do have to get used to the ‘static crackle’ every time an audio log or recording stops or starts. It’s a little jarring the first few times, but you quickly become accustomed to it, so it doesn’t impact the overall enjoyment too much.
If you are looking for an entertaining thriller with plenty of complex and blemished characters set within a totally isolated and dangerous environment, then you will find The Sound at The End a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The story is engaging and well-executed, and the characters elevate the audiobook even more. I also believe that as this story is very much told through the female gaze, it sticks its landing perfectly and the overall experience is much better for it!
Full of incredible characters and performances, The Sound at The End is a chilling tale that explores past traumas in a truly unique, and terrifying, environment.