Audiobook - Dark Shadows: The Haunted Refrain

Dark Shadows The Haunted Refrain

Susan Omand sits among the cobwebs in the attic and gets into the groove with Dark Shadows: The Haunted Refrain from our friends at Big Finish...

It’s 1969 and Barbara, a would-be romance writer, and her husband Grant Douglas have moved into their new house, hoping for a slower pace of life as a change from the hustle and bustle of life in New York. As they explore, they find an old gramophone in the attic and Grant starts it up. The music soon changes to faint sounds of screaming which frightens Barbara but Grant thinks it is just dust and they leave it running, the screams getting louder as they go.

When Grant leaves for work, Barbara goes back to the attic to investigate the gramophone further and hears a voice explaining he is trapped in the diamond on the tip of the player needle. This voice belongs to Quentin Collins and he starts, over the next few visits to share his memories with Barbara, explaining that each time the record is played a bit of his memory is erased. Barbara becomes obsessed with the man in the gramophone and starts to withdraw from her marriage and real life, spending more and more time with Quentin, writing and thinking about him, as he shares more and more of his memories fragments with her while they become more confused and she finds out about his life, his “curse” and how he became trapped and he warns that “they” are now coming for her...

This was a Quentin Collins story with a difference! I was intrigued by the premise of him being caught in the gramophone needle and the interaction between Quentin and Barbara was very engaging. Also, having followed his thread through various episodes now, I also had fun picking up on the strands and snippets from the other Quentin Collins stories that featured in his memories in this tale and I think that, even if I hadn’t listened to other episodes, these memories gave a real sense of depth to his back story and a reason for his being trapped.

The plot itself was very well paced, with the inevitable breakdown of Barbara and Grant’s marriage by her obsession being almost as much of a story as Quentin’s own, although the final twist in the monologue of Quentin’s is heart stopping.

Even though the acting was, as always, superb, the star of this episode was the sound design by Nigel Fairs which was utterly inspired. What could have been just an interesting story was made into a completely chilling and atmospheric performance with the careful use of scratches, sound effects and music.

Image - Big Finish.

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