I’ve never read one of the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, ”The Hound of the Baskervilles” before – it’s one of those stories that I know very well thanks to all the filmatisations and parodies, but which I indeed have never read.
Cori Samuel is an amazing audio book reader who I discovered through her recording of ”The Wood Beyond the World” and who I briefly praised here. Samuel recently recorded a new audio version of ”The Hound of the Baskervilles” with a full cast, herself playing Dr. Watson’s part. Seeing as Watson is the narrator as well as the main character of the story, this makes for a great deal of Cori Samuel. This was an excellent reason to finally delve into the classic Arthur Conan Doyle story.
What follows is a short review of the recording, and I’ll write a future short review of the book itself at a future point.
The main problem with LibriVox… first, to whoever is unaware, LibriVox is a non-for-profit website cataloging public domain literature to audio recordings. They allow anyone to record a piece to send in, some are amateurs and some are professionals, some are good and some are bad. Again, the main problem with LibriVox is the huge difference in quality from piece to piece. Most recorders are extremely good at what they do, and only a scarce minority ever annoy me to the degree of shutting off the audio book. Still, in many cases the actual recording device is too poor to lead to good quality, and as such many recordings are difficult to hear (though again, very seldom is it very annoying).
In the case of ”the Hound”, only one recorder of the 19 showcased bad quality (again, not to be confused with the recorder himself/herself, who did a good job in spite of the technology). However, having just actor with bad quality annoys quite a lot in the midst of 19 actors, in fact it annoys much more than it would have done had this recorder done the entire book by himself/herself. Annoying and sad, but then again it’s all free, so what to do?
All voice actors did very well. I was ofcourse biased towards Cori Samuel, who did a great job as Dr. Watson, but I was also pleasanty surprised by the work of Arielle Lipshaw as Sherlock Holmes, and of Amanda Friday as Laura Lyons. As I said, all of the actors were good, but these are the examples that really stood out to me. Lipshaw did an especially great job of capturing Holmes’ attitude and elitism without sounding like she faked her voice. I’m not sure how much work lies behind Amanda Friday’s characterisation of Laura Lyons, but to me it felt perfectly natural, and her voice simply suited the character perfectly, without feeling at all forced.
An interesting factor, which Samuel points out in her blog, is the abundance of female voices for male characters. I don’t know if there was a specific plan for this, but nonetheless it worked excellently – Dr. Watson, Holmes and Sir Henry are all played by women. It worked very interestingly, and seeing as this was my first meeting with Sir Henry (having read many Holmes stories before but not this one) I found myself constantly imagining a lady and not a gentleman. A sign of how well it worked is how it never struck me as odd, merely interesting.
In short: a great recording of a great book which I’ve stayed away from for way too long. Thanks, Cori Samuel and all the rest!
Listen to the recording at LibriVox here.