Audiobook - Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharoah

Curse of the Pharoah

Susan Omand heads back to Collinsport via ancient Egypt to listen to Dark Shadows: Curse of the Pharoah...

Carolyn Stoddard has broken into someone’s files at the start of the story and finds that the hieroglyphs make no sense. She is guided by an unknown male presence to make changes to the glyphs in order to confuse the owner of the files. A door opens and she panics at the possibility of the file owner’s return.

Flashback to the arrival of a “famed Egyptologist” who says she’s travelled halfway round the world to meet Carolyn. She introduces herself as Dr. Gretchen Warwick, an apparent friend of Professor Stokes, and Carolyn takes an immediate dislike to the arrogant woman. Gretchen thinks that Carolyn might know something about a discovery that she’s been studying, even though Carolyn denies it, and offers to pay for any information. Carolyn’s mother Elizabeth comes in and is introduced to Gretchen, who is evasive about her reasons for visiting, and invites Gretchen to stay at Collinwood which she accepts. Gretchen settles in quickly and discusses with Carolyn a picture of the Nephren-Ka, the forgotten Pharaoh. She also shows Carolyn an artefact that she recognises immediately as a gold box with a four headed serpent seal of the Leviathans, the Naga, and Gretchen tells her that the box has the power to bring back everything they ever held dear but she needs Carolyn’s help to perform the rituals.

Carolyn starts to experience visions of the past in Egypt, during the reign of Nephren-Ka, She is his wife and, since he killed the whole royal family, he is now building a new temple with the insignia of the Naga on it, to house the box, guarded by a crimson robed, faceless man. After the vision, Carolyn and Gretchen discuss their late husbands and Carolyn thinks about the time of his death and whether Gretchen really can bring him back. Gretchen, dressed in a red robe, performs the ritual to make contact with the dead and Carolyn thinks she hears the voice of her husband. Carolyn, convinced that the demonstration worked, calls out to him, which breaks the contact and angers Gretchen.

Escaping Gretchen’s anger, Carolyn goes to the Blue Whale, thinking about her husband’s appearance, and she spots Mike Garner, youngest of the family of attorneys, so she leaves as she finds him uncomfortable to talk to. Mike follows her and the air seems to change. Mike is now gone and a pale shape sinks into the water of the harbour. Carolyn almost slips and she can see a trail leading from behind the Blue Whale to where Mike had been. She screams as footsteps approach...

What (or who) is it that caught Mike? Why did Carolyn need to change the hieroglyphics in the file and is Gretchen only interested in the box to bring back their loved ones?

Egyptology has long been an interest of mine so I was intrigued to see how the Dark Shadows team would handle a story based around Egyptian Gods. As it turned out, very well indeed as the story is told from Carolyn’s point of view. Nancy Barrett who plays Carolyn and Marie Wallace as Gretchen play off each other well and their relationship is very believable. The sound design in this episode adds a great deal to it too, with both tension building music, with an incredibly spooky timpani, and well placed sound effects adding to the atmosphere. The ticking clock as the first ritual was being performed was especially good as it set a rhythm to the chant that really left me on edge. The story, written by Stephen Mark Rainey, had me on tenterhooks throughout too and the changes in timeframe, from vision to reality, were easy to follow which is quite an achievement for an audio. All in all a very enjoyable and spooky story, with Lovecraftian influences that makes good use of the psychology of other than visual senses to spark the imagination.

Image - Big Finish

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