Audiobook - Dark Shadows: Carriage of the Damned

Dark Shadows Carriage of the Damned

Susan Omand drops back into the Dark Shadows and gets on the right track with this episode from our friends at Big Finish...

Sisters in law Amy and Sabrina Jennings are both recently bereaved, Sabrina lost husband, and Amy’s brother, Chris and Amy also lost her boyfriend Simon, and they are walking through the cemetery when Sabrina asks Amy for help to dig up an unmarked grave. The body they unearth is shackled and headless although the body is perfectly intact. Sabrina explains the body was buried 133 years ago and a note they find with the body says it is “murderer Gerard Stiles”. He lived in the 1840’s and ingratiated himself to the Collins family, tricking his way through their money and women before becoming obsessed with a warlock, Judah Zachary. Stiles procured Zachary’s head and Zachary eventually possessed Stiles, causing him to murder many before eventually being shot and killed. Sabrina now has a theory that someone is doing the same with Gerard Stiles head, using it to resurrect his spirit. She asks Amy to use her divination skills to locate Stiles head and the spell points to the train station. Sabrina heads there and gets on the night train to New York, leaving Amy to do some more research.

On the train she meets Elspeth Gardner, the actress, and a group of unusual characters but she is rescued from the tedium of sitting with them by Hallie Stokes, Professor Stokes’ niece, who invites her into her cabin. It turns out Ms Stokes is from the house at Collinwood and they spend the evening discussing the place. They part company only to meet up later when they both end up at the cargo carriage on the train, looking for Gerard Stiles, only for a voice to repeat “Forgive me, I wasn’t myself...”

When they awake the next day, the rest of the train has gone only the occupants of the last carriage remain and they discuss how it could have happened with the guard, whether the coupling could have come undone by accident. As the guard goes to check, he finds the door and window jammed with no way to get out and the carriage is stuck on a hidden bend on the track so any other train coming would not be able to stop in time. Then the voice comes back as something inhabits each of the passengers in turn, “Forgive me, I wasn’t myself...” and there’s a box in the cargo bay that may have something to do with it.

Who has done this and why? What is Ms Stokes’ interest in Gerard Stiles? And how are they going to get out of the carriage and to safety?

This is another episode from Dark Shadows that I can really see working on TV as well as audio as the writing had everything - action, adventure, supernatural monsters and some superb unexpected twists in the story as we find out who needed Gerard Stiles and the warlock who possessed him and why. As well as the main story, this episode also covered ongoing side story arcs in the series, tidying up loose ends for both Amy and Sabrina’s storylines as well as referring events in past episodes to tie in other characters to the plot. This could have make for over complexity but was all cleverly knitted together by writer Alan Flanagan so that it didn’t feel stilted or forced in any way, although I found it useful to have listened to the other episodes first to make the connections mentioned. I was very pleased too that the amount of “blood and gore” horror had been toned down again in this episode and the supernatural element was very much to the fore. As always, the acting was of the highest quality with all the characters being interesting and engaging to listen to, something that is difficult with no visual reference. Definitely another solid episode and I’m excited to listen to the next one in the series.

Image - Big Finish.