Audiobooks are their own form of art. Sometimes, the narrator’s voice doesn’t match the character in my head, or worse, if the narrator just reads the book instead of acting it, and the audiobook version falls flat. But sometimes, a good audiobook can turn a mediocre novel into a good novel.
Duma Key is one of those audiobooks. John Slattery narrates, and he is not only excellent, but his voice fits the main character perfectly. The way the book is written, it’s also perfectly suited for an audiobook.
When it comes to the story, Duma Key has a couple of things going for it that seem especially tailored for me. First, it’s written by Stephen King. I used to be a huge Stephen King fan until I got too used to his formula. I still like his work, but sometimes the story seems predictable. For example, he wrote Duma Key after buying a home on a key on the gulf coast of Florida. (Hey, at least it’s not set in Maine!)
More specifically, Duma Key is a fictional island near Sarasota, an area that I love and frequently visit. Unlike most areas on the coast of Florida, the fictional key is mostly undeveloped. When Edgar Freemantle’s arm is severed in an accident at his successful construction company, the changes that he has to make in his life to compensate affect him psychologically. His doctor suggests he moves to Florida, and he chooses Duma Key. There are a few vacation homes on one end of the island, but most of it is wild and mysterious.
Edgar starts painting again as another form of therapy, and the paintings start to take on a life of their own, with a power connected to the mysteries of the island. The art community is big around Sarasota, so King went for a twist on his usual formula: instead of making his main character a writer by profession, this time he’s an artist by hobby.
For another break in his typical formula, King spends most of the book building the suspense and mystery, leaving most of the action for the very end. It makes the book read more like a drama with some supernatural elements instead of a horror novel. I like it because it helped me revisit the feeling of being in Sarasota, but I think most people will find it boring.
As a book, Duma Key is nothing special. As an audiobook, the performance of John Slattery really kicks the story up a notch. Although I give it an average rating, with the great voice acting and an opportunity for me to reminisce on my own visits to the islands around Sarasota, Duma Key is one of my favorite audiobooks.
Michelle Hartz, Ph.Z., is the Graphic Designer at Baugh Enterprises, specializing in design for print and promotional products. She is also the Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) in Bloomington, Indiana. Michelle has published two of her NaNoWriMo books: Helpless, a horror story set on a wind farm; and Brains for the Zombie Soul, a parody containing nearly 101 heartwarming and inspirational stories celebrating the differently animated.