Tuesday, 11 October 2016

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
First published in America by Gold Medal Books in 1954. Blackstone Audio edition narrated by Robertson Dean published in 2007.

One of my Favourite Five Horror Stories for Halloween 2015 and one of my Top Ten Books of 2015

How I got this book:
Bought the audio download from Audible

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth...but he is not alone. Every other man, woman, and child on Earth has become a vampire, and they are all hungry for Neville's blood. By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn. How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?'

Horror fiction isn't my usual fare, but when I saw a narration of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend in an Audible 2-for-1-credit promotion I thought I would give it a try. Written in the 1950s, the story is a classic and I assumed that, being of that vintage, it would not be as graphically gory as modern tales. In this I was right. There are flashes of horrific violence, but what made I Am Legend brilliant for me is its creeping dread and its overriding sense of loss.

Our protagonist, Robert Neville, believes himself the last non-vampiric human alive and lives an isolated existence boarded up every night in a home besieged by his hunters. My edition was narrated by Robertson Dean who does a great job. His world-weary tones perfectly suit Neville's predicament so it was easy for me to get past the unreal element and accept the world as Matheson created it. Set in the then future of 1976, the summer is not especially hot - was it in America or just Europe? - but the library contains actual books and I liked how Matheson has Neville take home volumes to study.

Without, hopefully, giving away too much of the plot for anyone like me who hadn't even seen one of the film adaptations, the flashbacks to Neville's previous family life are sad and reminded me at times of the panic and chaos of Jose Saramago's Blindness. The dog is particularly heartrending and I loved the final twist which is so unlike standard narrative fare that I didn't see it coming. Brilliant storytelling and I'm glad I took a chance on it. I think I will learn how to wire up a generator though - just in case!

Etsy Find!
by Ctrl Alt Geek in
Southsea, England

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Books by Richard Matheson / Horror fiction / Books from America

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