Big Finish: Iris Wildthyme and Friends FELLOWSHIP OF INK Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Iris Wildthyme and Friends FELLOWSHIP OF INK Review

Hannah has a Wildthyme in the 1930’s…
I must preface this review with the knowledge that I am relatively new to the world of audiobooks, I told myself I much preferred the familiar comfort of a physical book so never really gave audiobooks the attention they deserved. I can heartily say after listening to Iris Wildthyme and Friends: A Fellowship of Ink, that I am now one of the converted.

Set in the fictional town of Darkholmes during the 1930’s, A Fellowship of Ink follows the adventure of Professor Cleavis and his young friend John, battling all manner of magical creature as the walls between dimensions begin to collapse, all thanks to the literary readings of The Fellowship of Ink themselves: The Smudgelings.

The story itself is more of a standalone in the wider ‘verse, sharing only a few recurring characters to the series. This is hardly surprising as its original publication was under that of ‘The Brenda and Effie Mysteries’. If anything, this made it a more enjoyable experience as an audiobook novice as it didn’t require all too much pre-existing knowledge to enjoy. Definitely one to check out if, like me, you missed the memo that audiobooks were awesome.

Paul Magrs’ writing takes on an almost gothic feel, which fits perfectly with the idea of literary professors stealing away into the night to read folk stories to one another by firelight, very reminiscent of the story of how Shelley came to grace us with Frankenstein. The twists and turns of the narrative mirror the gloomy, oppressive nature of the narrow streets of Darkholmes quite vividly whilst the gentle cadence of Louise Jameson’s narration alludes to the mystical whimsy the story centres itself around. Art often imitates life and listening to this with my headphones on as the night closed in, I truly felt like I too was part of The Smudgelings literary circle, listening in on the garish tales of the secret sect.

The narrative is incredibly engaging and evocative, as our protagonists navigate their way around Darkholmes it is easy to close your eyes and be transported to their side, witnessing the nightmarish visions they so gallantly face, feeling the frustration of the puzzle that needs to be solved and familiarizing themselves with the strange ways of Darkholmes. This is once again a tribute to not only Magr’s storytelling ability, but to Jameson’s dulcet tones washing over you like a trance whilst you hang on her every word, breath bated as you wonder what’s to come.

This is very much the kind of story that I would normally race through, excited to turn the page and uncover the mystery but Louise Jameson’s paced reading was, in fact, an incredibly rewarding experience. I found myself paying more attention to the finer details, the characterizations and the relationships that form throughout the reading. The novel creates a rich ecosystem of characters and settings, each as important and as beautiful as the last and the deeper subtext is something that really brought this story to life.

All in all, I would highly recommend grabbing hold of this audiobook, whether you’re a fan of the universe it prescribes itself to or not. Its gothic folkloric style is a blessed addition to the wider metaverse and the story itself is a delightful twisty-turny adventure into the abstract and bizarre. Perfect for any newcomers to the series and a welcome addition for the veterans, it certainly whet my appetite and I can’t wait to add more of this Big Finish series to my library.

Iris Wildthyme and Friends: Fellowship of Ink is available to purchase from the Big Finish website.

Preferring the company of fictional characters to living, breathing people; it should come as no surprise that Hannah is a connoisseur of all things geek. Whilst their body resides in the capital of Wales, their heart resides in Middle-Earth and their mind remains firmly lodged in the memory of that embarrassing thing they did when they were eight.

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