Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dark Shadows Audio Book 40 - The Harvest of Souls

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program...

It's back to Collinwood and the continuing story of terror and nightmares, as author James Goss picks up right where Beyond the Grave left off.  The Sheriff, Jim Hardy, is dead.  The recent episode of the show "Beyond the Grave" is being touted as merely a drama, downplaying the reality of the horrifying events that occurred live on the show.  And Maggie Evans finds herself alone in Collinsport ... literally!  There is no one in town, and Maggie, all hope lost, decides to take her own life.  She is stopped, however, by a most unexpected source - Gerald Conway (as played by the former "Doctor Who," Colin Baker), who was last seen in The House by the Sea.  But, as those who listened to that audio drama will remember, Gerald is not exactly himself these days...

The Harvest of Souls is an interesting and very sad look at Maggie Evans and the toll her life in Collinsport has taken on her.  Over the years, she lost her mother, she lost her father, she has lost a number of friends (either by death or by them moving away), and at times, she has even lost her sanity.  Goss writes a well-crafted story about Maggie's inner-most despair and strength, and it's amazing the range that Kathryn Leigh Scott has - to take Maggie from the point of giving up completely to finding her strength once again and saving not only herself, but the whole town of Collinsport!

Bringing back Conway (albeit Nicholas Blair in his body) was a surprise, but definitely a welcome one.  It's been a while since I've seen the television series (and by "a while," I really mean well over 15 years now...), but I seem to recall that Nicholas had a fascination with Maggie and even fell in love for Maggie (as much as a warlock in the service of the devil can fall in love).  So having him rescue Maggie from her attempted suicide, and then attempt to persuade her to live in a dream world forever with him makes perfect sense (leaving me to wonder if this story was already planned, and The House by the Sea was a harbinger of things to come).

It is always fun to see (hear?) the continuity among these stories - Dr. Balthazar makes a brief appearance at the beginning of this tale, as he checks in on Sabrina Jennings (who, faithful listeners will recall was hit by a car in The Flip Side).  His character also plays a much bigger part in the next audio drama, The Happier Dead.  There is also a reference to Maggie's days as a blond, which, on the television show, changed to her natural long, brown hair without any explanation whatsoever.  And the true villains in this story turn out to be the Leviathans, whose story on the television show was probably one of the most reviled by fans.  So Goss gives them a final (?) closure, sending them off to their final resting place in the sea.

There is also that recurring nursery rhyme, "One, Two, Three, Four Five," which has been heard in three prior audios, making this its fourth appearance.  Leaves me wondering what future story it will play a role in...

This is definitely one of the darker Dark Shadows audios, but it ends on a high note, with Maggie regaining her inner strength and conquering, once again, the evil that threatens to overwhelm her hometown.  Her final words in the story hold more than just truth for the fictional world of Dark Shadows, but definitely speak loudly after all the recent events that have taken place here in the real world - Orlando, Dallas, Belgium, and elsewhere -

"Everyone's looking up at the sky, hoping that at any moment, the sun will finally come out.  And maybe it will. So, I guess life goes on; because, where there's life, there's always the hope that today is going to be a better day."

RATING:  10 dreams of a better day out of 10 for reminding us all that even in our darkest times, we can always find hope that the sun will shine again!

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