🎁 Omari and the People by Stephen Whitfield

Available purchase options for this title (via affiliate links) are located below this review. Purchasing through them helps keep The Audiobookworm going. Learn more here.

Description⎮Reviewed Aug. 2016

Narrator: Curt Simmons
Length: 11h 17m
Publisher: Shirley Castle Press⎮2016

 4.75★ Audiobook⎮ After finishing Omari and the People, I’m left with both a feeling of wonderment and confusion. Sort of like what I experience at magic shows. On the one hand, I’m in awe. On the other, I’m left a little baffled, but not in an unpleasant way. If you understand how the magician performs the trick, it’s not quite as magical.

Every single second of this audiobook captivated me. I was initially a bit intimidated by the 11-hour runtime. Long audiobooks are always a gamble. If you happen to dislike it, listening becomes a chore. But Steven Whitfield had me in the palm of his hand throughout the entire time.

This was one of the most well-paced audiobooks I’ve ever heard. There were no highs and lows. I don’t remember ever experiencing a dip or lull in the story. It wasn’t what I would call fast-paced or action-packed, but steady and constant.

The characters were the backbone of this story. There was definitely a plot, but it developed through the characters instead of the other way around. This was storytelling at its best.

Imagine a child sitting at an elder’s knee, listening to stories of old and hanging on every word. Now imagine that the child is you and the elder is this audiobook. That was my experience in a nutshell. It wasn’t so much the story itself, but more the way it was told. Whitfield’s writing was entrancing.

The escapist quality that so many people search for in a good story is fully present in Omari and the People. It whisked me away to wherever this story is set for several hours a day. I got to the point where I was wanting to turn in early at night just so I could have an extra hour to listen.

Mysticism only played in a small part in this story, but the overall effect of the storytelling was absolutely magical. The mystery of not knowing where or when the story took place merely added to that effect. Unlike some other reviewers, I preferred thinking of this story as existing outside of our reality. It held many similarities to Biblical lore, without being too identifiable with any one particular legend.

Certain elements of the story reminded me of Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns series. Omari and the People featured very strong female characters and had a rich, but identifiable cultural backdrop. It really left a lot to the listener’s imagination, including the solution of a few key plot points.

This could annoy some, but I decided to view it like abstract art. Omari and the People  is painted with broad strokes and it is up to the listener to to decide how to fill in the details and how to interpret the finished product.

After all, a magician never reveals their secrets.

Narration review: I actually wanted to start this review by talking about the narration because it captivated me as much as the storytelling. Someone give Curt Simmons an Audie Award because he held a thick and distinct accent for the entire 11 hours and 17 minutes of this audiobook. It did not slip once. The accent was not particularly distinguishable as belonging to one group or another, which tremendously enhanced the story’s mysteriousness and aided my suspension of disbelief. It was thick enough to be remarkable, but not so thick as to hinder my understanding. I’m very curious to know how exactly Mr. Simmons came to choose this particular accent for the performance (and also how he held it for so long!).

This experience, along with sampling a bit of his other work, assured me that Curt Simmons is a narrator who can do just about anything (and do it very well). ♣︎

This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its narrator, Curt Simmons, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Curt!

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback) and Audible

2 Comments

  1. Oh my. Thank you so much for the wonderful review, Jess. You know, the accent was just something I spontaneously fell into when I did the audition for Stephen. It was just there and I went with it. One of my main criteria for choosing a book to narrate is whether I can actually hear the sound of the narrative voice in my mind as I read silently to myself. Stephen’s setting and his extraordinary writing, particularly the more evocative and poetic passages just sounded like this sort of Middle Eastern/Russian/Hispanic/Italian/Irish accented voice. I can’t really explain it.

Let me know what you think!