The Cold Beneath by Tonia Brown, Narrator, Chris Barnes

The Cold Beneath

By Tonia Brown

Narrator: Chris Barnes

Music by Kevin McCloud 

Dynamic Ram Audio Productions

6 hours 57 minutes

Tonia Brown author of Steampunk stories
Author, Tonia Brown

The Cold Beneath, the title, short, innocuous, and suggesting something cold and hidden. It does not especially convey terror and horror at unimaginable levels, but that is just what this book is about. Quaking terror, and fear beyond what anyone should experience.

Book Review: The Cold Beneath
by Tonia Brown

The tale starts in 1881, with a written account of the tragic journey of the airship, The Northern Fancy. Setting out on a journey to the Arctic to win fame and fortune, as the first succeed where others failed. Inventor, and bio-mechanic Phillip Syntax, a recluse by choice, prefers to live hidden away on his private estate licking the wounds inflicted by his former mentor, Elijah Good, who stole not only his invention but his woman, Geraldine Good. Syntax, employs a manservant, Bradley, to maintain his privacy and roust out anyone that tries to enter the grounds.

Yet, while Syntax is enjoying the fine spring weather someone does gain entry. One, retired Colonel, Gideon Lightbridge, who is determined to meet with Syntax. Lightbridge, is persist and determined persuade Syntax, to join his expedition to the the Arctic, a race to the North Pole. Lightbridge, was convinced that previous explorers failed from using conventional routes, he, would succeed using an airship.

His paramount argument as to why he needs Syntax to join him is, Syntax, was the creator of his, clockwork mechanical legs. Lightbridge, lost both legs in the war and thought he was doomed to a life as an invalid. Syntax's invention of mechanical legs restored his freedom of movement.

Syntax is both intrigued and alarmed at the thought of joining such a perilous journey. But, his innate curiosity and after talking it over with Bradley, he decides to take a chance, reassuring himself that as inventor of Lightbridge's clock work legs, it follows that he should be on hand to repair and observe how the cogs and gears hold up under the brutal cold of the Arctic. Bradley, is excited about the venture and is not willing to be left behind, accompanies Syntax.

With their first encounter of the airship, Syntax is awed but finds the concept unworkable if not impossible. Lightbridge, explains and shows Syntax how the ship will indeed work and with this deeper understanding, Syntax's, excitement and amazement soars. The Northern Fancy, is revolutionary, and novel. Just as Syntax is regaining his enthusiasm it is just as quickly squelched, when he finds that his old flame Geraldine Good, is to join the party as the crew's doctor.

Syntax, never stopped loving Geraldine, but could not forgive or forget her betrayal of jilting him and marrying Elijah Good. He can't imagine the emotional pain he'll endure if he is confined on the airship with her for six months. Disheartened he feels under such circumstances he will not be able to go. Geraldine is beautiful and feminine knows how to appeal to every weak spot Syntax has, and, she sweet talks him into going, a decision he lives to regret.

Geraldine has worked out a program of vitamin shots, and exercise programs to keep the crew in top physical condition. Syntax, resents being forced to take these shots and he is an admitted, coward, and physical exertions don't appeal to him, he maintains Geraldine is a liar and not to be trusted. So it's with great reluctance he takes the shots of what he considers a suspicious substance.

The weeks pass without incidence, until Morrow, the cook dies of a heart attack. The decision is made to store Morrow in the larder, and continue the journey since they are so close to reaching their goal. In the wee hours of the morning, a horrible, screaming, and banging wakens everyone from their peaceful slumber.

They track the sounds to the larder, and at first think someone has gotten locked in. When they open the door, Morrow, falls out to his knees, and when he looks up, shrieking and bellowing, cold, so cold. Barnes' chilling, deep guttural delivery of Morrow, now a zombie, will make your hair stand on end and send chills up your spine. It's one of the most convincing performances, you are ever likely to hear in your life.

An explosion on The Northern Fancy, sends it plummeting to the snowy ground. Now stranded, much of the crew is dead or dying. The survivors, do their best to aid the injured and all had injuries from minor to serious. They once again place the dead in the larder and lock the door. Soon enough, the hair-raising cries of the dead are heard and Syntax reminds them "remember Marrow".

Morrow, is not the last to become a zombie, seeking the warmth of living bodies. One by one they return to terrify the remaining crew members. Soon to be out numbered, Syntax, knows what he must do if he is to survive. Who, will be the last remaining member on the wreckage of The Northern Fancy!

Tonia Brown, has written a masterpiece of steam punk and zombies. She does not waste words, and uses every opportunity to make her characters likable, or not,  they are well fleshed out and credible. You're quickly caught up into their lives, emotions and desires. Left with wanting more, but, there is no more to be had. Remember Morrow.