Audiobook - Dark Shadows: The Ghost Watcher

The Ghost Watcher

There's spirits at play, and it's not just the office gin, as Susan Omand listens to Dark Shadows: The Ghost Watcher from Big Finish...

All Souls Day, the day of the dead and the day Maggie Evans met Nathan Hawkins, a self proclaimed Ghost Watcher.

Maggie (played as usual by Kathryn Leigh Scott) noted the day in her diary, as keeping a journal was recommended by the specialists when she was discharged by the Windcliff Institute. Her plans to return to being a governess for the family of Roger Collins had been scuppered by young David being sent to boarding school and her services were no longer required. Instead she got the deeds to the Collinsport Inn as “a new start” in order to get her away from Collinwood and to keep her quiet about the secrets there.

Nathan Hawkins, played in his native Scottish accent by Alec Newman, a very familiar voice in the Dark Shadows series, arrives in Collinsport by train expecting great things from the “energies in the night”. He goes to the Inn and tries to impress Maggie with his stories and “magic” as they get to know each other. When Nathan asks Maggie to show him around, they arrange to go out for a meal together to the local bar, The Blue Whale. Nathan breaks the mood by stating right away that 10 people died there but Maggie persuades him to change the subject and they get along well. Barnabas shows up and there’s a stand-off between the two men, almost vying for Maggie’s attention much to her amusement at first but getting uncomfortable as Nathan starts to get personal with first Barnabas and then the rest of the crowd, saying that he can see the ghosts of Collinsport. Maggie’s suspicions about Nathan start to rise after a cryptic session with Mrs Haggardy at the store the next day, and she discusses him with her friend Carolyn. Carolyn was instantly wary about Nathan’s ghost hunting and warns Maggie to be careful of her new friend. At the end of the day, Nathan invites Maggie for an evening stroll, to the cemetery of all places to go ghost hunting and they spend time together watching unusual glowing orbs of ghosts playing and laughing. Next day, many of the townsfolk woke up to find a clear glass jar with one of these orbs inside and a note imploring them to “look into the light and try to deny what you see”. But what, or who, were these orbs? Innocent ghosts or something more dangerous? And is Nathan really who he says he is?

Low on the gore and horror count, this supernatural tale reminded me more of a Gothic ghost story, than one of the modern age. The way Stuart Manning wrote the narrative to switch between the characters, not just as dialogue, helped to keep it animated and interesting, which is something quite difficult for a journal-inspired tale. The descriptions, especially of Nathan, rounded out the new character, while still giving a clear mental image of the environments and the story itself, although not action packed, had clever twists and turns.  I did feel a little let down by the almost “happily ever after” neatness of the ending though as I wanted more from Nathan’s character but, all in all, this was a good character-building piece for Maggie that helps to move her own story along.

Image - Big Finish