- Audiobook Review
- Author: Nick Antosca
- Performed by RC Bray
- Published by Blue Heron Audio and released by Audible in January 2016
- Category: Fantasy, Suspense, Supernatural
In the morning, Bram finds the bones of a murdered child. At noon, the murdered child begs for his help. And by nightfall, they have killed a man together and set off into the afterlife, where nothing is what it was, and death is only the beginning of punishment. An eerie story about the nature of death and the self, Midnight Picnic inhabits an American landscape made strange and unfamiliar. From the author of the cult novel Fires, Midnight Picnic is a haunting and disturbing experience.
As Bram pulls into the parking area of Mom’s bar, he hits Baby, the old deerhound that lives there. It’s the early hours of the morning and pouring with rain. Bram is devastated as he tries to find the injured dog and get her to a vet. But his car has died and the dog manages to drag herself into the crawl space beneath the building. Bram decides the kindest thing is to put an end to her suffering so he goes to a friend’s to borrow a gun. When he returns the dog has gone, presumably into the woods and when the storm intensifies Bram makes the choice to look for her in the morning. When he enters his room over the bar he finds Marian, his sometimes girlfriend who has the other room, in his bed.
It takes a while for him to fall asleep. He keeps thinking of the dog out there. The storm is worse, the wind keening and jolting the window in its frame. It sounds like it’s uprooting things out there, laying siege to something. When he does sleep, after a while, his dreams are eerily quiet, full of silver half-light. He is walking in the woods. He is a child.
Although Bram doesn’t realise it yet, the dream has a huge significance and when he ventures into the woods the next morning looking for Baby a bag of bones is found. The bones of a child. Bram takes them to his room. Later a young boy, Adam Dovey, appears asking for help, explaining to Bram how he was murdered. He wants Bram’s help to punish the man who murdered him. So begins Bram’s surreal journey into darkness.
The characters are well defined and the descriptive version of the afterlife seems to be more of a purgatory than anything else. A place of desolation, disturbingly similar to the real world but leached of all colour, light and emotion, where the dead are able to understand the wrongs they’ve committed and realise there can be a reprieve, maybe even redemption, if they really want it and are willing to change.
Except for Adam, who is stuck in the mindset of the child he was when he died. He just wants revenge, and revenge has grown into hatred. He won’t be satisfied until Jacob Bunny is completely destroyed. Unwilling to consider anyone or anything else, he is focussed on his ultimate goal and uses Bram to achieve it. Jacob Bunny arouses pity, even though he did a terrible thing. He has been a lost soul for most of his life. This isn’t an action story, the pace is steady, the narrative has a good flow with very descriptive phrasing.
The long, wide highway, empty of cars. The night continues, there is no dawn.
Something’s descending over him like a fog, muting his feelings, softening his thoughts.
The haunting atmosphere and pervading creepiness of the story is created extremely well, and added to by RC Bray’s distinct and masterful delivery.