Today I’m reviewing Underwood and Flinch, an audiobook/podcast novel by Mike Bennett. His site can be found at http://www.mikebennettpodcast.com// or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/themikebennett. This novel is in the horror genre (in case you couldn’t tell.)
Synopsis: All David Flinch ever wanted was a normal life.
But when you’re a member of the Flinch family, normal has never been easy.
For hundreds of years, the eldest male Flinch has been servant and guardian to the Lord Underwood. While the Flinches have changed through the generations, Underwood, a vampire, has been eternal. David had hoped to be spared the horror of serving his family’s lord and master, but when he is summoned to the Flinch home in Spain by his dying older brother, he knows his luck has run out. Underwood must be resurrected from the grave in a ritual of human sacrifice, and David must be the man to do it. Because if he doesn’t, an even greater evil than Underwood will rise: the evil that is David’s sister.
Underwood and Flinch is an epic horror-thriller that spans the centuries. From the teeming slums of 17th Century London to an ex-pat community in modern-day Spain, this is the new novel from Mike Bennett, author of ‘One Among the Sleepless’ and ‘Hall of Mirrors’.
Production: The recording quality is excellent. I loved the music he chose. He does a bit more with music as the podcast progresses but it never gets in the way. I remember perhaps one duplicated line late in the series.
Cast: Mike does the narration and character voices. He does quite a broad range of accents and voices both the male and female characters. Unlike some podcasters who shall remain nameless (*cough* Scott Sigler *cough*), he does a great job.
Story: This podcast novel weighs in at forty-five episodes. Some of them push past the forty-five minute mark and go into an hour. It consumed my listening for a month. I didn’t listen to a single other podcast during this time. No idea what the word count on this bugger is, but it’s huge and worth (nearly) every second.
I gave some thought about what this podcast is “like”. I decided that it’s very much a soap opera. And I mean that in the best possible way. The writing could use some tweaks, but I kept coming back for the OMG moments and to find out what complete insanity the characters were up to this time. There’s incest, blood, Russian mobsters, decapitations, defenestrations, melodrama, wonderful British slang, pirates, gun fights and absolutely OCEANS of blood. I could see this working well as an HBO miniseries (and it would need to be for the language if nothing else). The whole thing is very cinematic.
Some of the typical vampire tropes are on display here (my favorite ones), but Mike’s obviously thought through them and gives them a few “real world” tweaks. I also love the idea of a human family serving their undead master throughout history. I’d love to see earlier generations of the Flinch family and the capers they got up to. There’s a sequel in the works so maybe I’ll get my wish.
Are there any weaknesses? Sure. More than once characters’ behaviors pull one eighties out of nowhere. I also got taken out of the story once or twice due to a character’s lack of reaction to the supernatural. If this gets turned into a novel it would benefit from an editor and another draft. Still, none of this kept me from coming back for more.
Verdict: I highly recommend this podcast. I think it actually may work better as an audio book than it might as a novel. The aforementioned cinematic quality comes out strongly in this format. Still, when this comes out in book form I’ll be buying it and this is one of those podcasts that will get my financial support down the road.