For the most part, I have been thoroughly enjoying these Dark Shadows audio books. The use of the original actors returning to their original roles is a fan's dream come true, and the most of the stories continue the arcs from the television show - either filling in gaps between stories, or continuing the drama after the cancellation of the show.
But once in a while, an audio book comes along that really just doesn't quite cut it. The Haunted Refrain, sadly, is one of those.
The story centers around Barbara, who, with her husband Grant, have just purchased a new house not far from Collinsport. In the attic of the house, Barbara discovers an old gramophone. At first, it's fun to play it, listen to the old record on it. Then she hears the voices. One, in particular, calling out for help. The voice of Quentin Collins.
Interesting premise? Indeed. But, sadly, that's where the "interesting" part ends. The story drags, with Barbara basically giving up everything to sit upstairs and talk to Quentin, who can't seem to remember how he got trapped in the gramophone, nor does he know who's after him. Barbara is intent on helping him escape, even after learning all about the many loves of Quentin's life and how their lives ended. Even after learning how many people Quentin has killed over the years, and how he killed them - - as a werewolf! Her marriage is a shambles, her house a disaster. For her, all that matters is Quentin.
And as I listened to the drama, I asked myself: why? Why would anyone so easily accept the supernatural, such as this? And why would anyone want to help someone they don't know escape from the situation? It makes little sense, particularly how quickly Barbara falls for Quentin. But even worse, and perhaps this is what really killed it for me. There is never any explanation given for how Quentin was trapped in the gramophone. Nor is there any reason given for him being trapped in there. Nor do we ever learn the identity of the person(s) who trapped him in there. Nothing. Nada. No explanation whatsover. And, while I would agree that sometimes horror can be the scariest when it is unexplained, this is not the case. This story simply left me with the feeling of, "okay, what was the purpose of this?"
Obviously, in any ongoing series, you're never going to have a hit every single time. Even in the daily soap, there are episodes or storylines that may not necessarily strike everyone's fancy. For me, this audio book was one of those. But it's over and done with now, so I can move on to the next one, with hopes it will be far better than this one. And who knows? Perhaps the writers will re-visit this story in the future and give us a more satisfying explanation.
RATING: 4 scratch, scratch, scratches out of 10, simply because this is Dark Shadows, after all, and anything that keeps the spirit of the show alive is worth some credit.