Amy Goldschlager Reviews Teeth in the Mist Audiobook by Dawn Kurtagich

Teeth in the Mist, Dawn Kurtagich; Al­lan Corduner, Gemma Dawson, Marisa Calin, Polly Lee & Steve West, narrators (Hachette Audio 978-1-54917591-6, $24.98, digi­tal download, 12.75 hr., unabridged) June 2019.

A medieval Welsh monk bargains with demonic forces to extend his life, a deal which taints the lives of three young women in different historical periods at Mill House, a sinister manor on a Welsh mountain. In the late 16th century, Hermione is initially delighted with her recent marriage to the charming and handsome John Smith, even if she barely knows him, and takes great pleasure in their travels toward a remote Welsh location. As the months pass in their new home on the mountain, though, she is puzzled and then alarmed by John’s obsession with building a mill when there’s no obvious water source. In the middle of the 19th century, the orphaned witch Roan travels to Mill House, whose strange owner has been named her new guardian. Murder, the disappearance of her guardian, bad weather, and a series of creepy incidents sow dissension among the remaining inhabitants and staff at the manor. Will Roan have to call upon her powers to survive, powers which she has been taught are demonic? In the present day, troubled teen Zoey, who can cast spells in exchange for pain and remaining truthful, runs away to Mill House in a search for answers and a possible cure for her father, whose sanity and memory began to slip away after his own experi­ences there. But once she’s at Mill House, will she ever be allowed to leave?

Hachette really pulled out all the stops in this production, which includes a full cast, sound effects, and even music. I almost never hear a narrator sing in an audiobook production (often because of public domain issues, other times because I think they simply don’t bother); this is the very first time I’ve heard three audiobook nar­rators singing in harmony – and it was just lovely. I am given to understand by someone affiliated with the production that the music was arranged by narrator Marisa Calin, the spoken and singing voice of Roan.

I am often reticent to pick up horror audio­books, as I’m a bit squeamish and overly suscep­tible to creepy imagery, and as I’ve noted before, listening to a book tends to heighten the emotional tenor of the work. I needn’t have worried here. Teeth in the Mist contains some dark moments, but it’s more classic Gothic than horror; it never rises beyond the level of deliciously spooky. The plot isn’t particularly intricate or groundbreaking, although I do want to know what happens next (according to the author’s website, she’s not even sure if there will be a sequel, which would be kind of maddening, given the open-ended nature of the conclusion). But the audio production really enriches and enhances the story, making this a worthy and fun listen. I hope that Hachette will continue to produce more works of this caliber.

This review and more like it in the October 2019 issue of Locus.

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