Story Rating: 5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Cornell Collins
Length: 7 hours, 59 minutes
I am a huge KJ Charles fan, but even among so many favorite books, Band Sinister stands out for me. I absolutely loved it the first time I read it, and listening to it in audio just reminded me how much. Rather than repeat my full original review (you can check it out here), instead there are some areas that really grabbed me upon listening that I want to highlight.
One of my favorite aspects of the story, and this audio version in particular, is the camaraderie among the members of the murder, Phillip’s group of close friends. The group has a nefarious reputation, but in reality what binds them together is a mutual acceptance of living outside the lines of what society traditionally accepts. In some cases, like Lord Corvin, it’s cultivating a wild reputation. In others, it is interest in science or intellectual pursuits considered scandalous. The group also includes those of different race, religion, and gender identity. I love watching this group together, seeing the way they poke fun at one another, how they share ideas, and how they support each other. There is fun banter and a great sense of friendship among them. This comes through especially well in the audio, and I think Cornell Collins not only narrates these characters well, but also gets the timing and pacing just right on their conversations.
I particularly love the relationship between Phillip, Corvin, and John. The three are best friends and have an incredible bond of love and friendship. They have been together since childhood and difficult pasts cemented their connection and loyalty to each other. I love the way Charles explores their dynamic, giving them a platonic friendship that is rooted very deeply in love, as well as a sexual connection. There is such nice exploration in the story as Phillip and Guy fall for one another and they talk about how Phillip’s relationship with his best friends might impact his relationship with Guy. I love that Guy can accept that Phillip has room in his heart for him, while still loving and being dedicated to Corvin and John.
Overall, I think Collins does a great job with the narration. He is able to really capture that dual side of Phillip — the loving, caring man who dotes on Guy and his friends versus the bored or irritated lord when he is dealing with difficult people. Guy has that perfect mix of sheltered innocence combined with that sense of bravery as he steps outside of his comfort zone. And the rest of the gang have nicely distinct voices and accents that fit their backgrounds. I found the narration really enjoyable and a great way to experience the book.
Band Sinister continues to be a favorite of mine from Charles’ extensive collection of wonderful work. The audio experience was really fabulous and I can highly recommend this one in either format.