Title: Oracle 2: The Dreamland Murders
Written by Andrew Pyper
Performed by Joshua Jackson, Humberly Gonzalez, Devon Bostick and an ensemble cast
Release date: May 18th, 2022
A sequel! A sequel! Are you kidding me! (Or as my son used to say when he was three – are you tipping me?!) Look, as a devoted Pyper fan, and having devoured almost everything he’s released/written (I still have three short stories or so to read), I’ve longed for a continuation of some of his characters, as I know other fans have. Who wouldn’t want to see what Ullman is up to these days? Or what happened after the ending of ‘The Killing Circle’?
Oracle 2: The Dreamland Murders gives us just that. I will say – this review will be spoiler free, but an interview I’m doing with Andrew won’t be – so you can read this review just fine, BUT, saying that, you definitely need to check out Oracle first before entering into this follow up.
This one was an interesting and very different experience than Oracle. Oracle also happened to be my first Audiobook experience, so going into that, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Joshua Jackson delivered a fantastic performance as both the Narrator, but also bringing our main character, Nate Russo to life.
Now, Jackson is back, but this time, it’s no longer a singular narrated audiobook, but a full on audio production, with an ensemble cast, complete with music and sound. For me, I’d described it as watching a movie with your eyes closed.
This follows the events of Oracle, picking up with Nate being bailed from jail to join Clare and Tillman again. This time, they need his ‘special assistance’ after a strange killing occurs near an old abandoned amusement park in Becket, Massachusetts.
What I liked: While Oracle was a single Audiobook told with a single Narrator, Oracle 2 arrives with ten episodes, with a full production. At first I found this change a bit jarring, but that was 100% down to me not being familiar with type of entertainment consumption. It went away really quickly and once again, the writing is so compelling that the characters immediately come alive.
The highlight I think for me, was the folklore that Pyper infuses into this story. A sprawling narrative that spans centuries and is revealed at first slowly, then in a really well done, dramatic information dump, where the cards are spread on the table and the reality of what they are dealing with is exposed.
I think one aspect of the episodic element that really worked well, was also the heightened secondary character development. Where in a novel, some of these characters may only have a few paragraphs or appear in a chapter, we get to see them come and go throughout, which also elevated the ‘small-town’ feeling where you often bump into the same people multiple times a day.
Dreamland itself is a fantastic aspect and as it comes alive the most during the finale, the production side of things really worked to give the listener that atmospheric creepiness that was necessary.
I will say – our friend the Boneman returns, albeit in a slightly different iteration and this works well to see the subtle ways Nate Russo has grown and changed since the events in Oracle.
I’ll finish this section off by saying – both Clare and Tillman feel more like important characters this time around than secondary pieces to push Russo’s plot. The voice actors really did these characters justice (as did all of the voice actors throughout) and it makes for some really entertaining and dramatic moments.
What I didn’t like: One part that I thought would’ve been played out a bit longer than it did was a particular love interest/moment that Nate has. It is with a specific character who plays a larger role in the overall events and lead up in the town, but was far too brief for me. They have a connection, absolutely, but this listener would’ve loved to see how Nate would’ve responded given more time.
Why you should buy this: It’s a unique thing – having a writing voice as solid and identifiable as Andrew’s that even when performed by others, his way of forming a sentence is immediately familiar and comforting. When compared to Oracle, I’d suggest Oracle 2 stands out more, not so much because of the full cast or the production put into it, but more for the depth of storytelling and level of folklore put into this. It has a wholly realized concept and the beginning, middle and ending work well together to cohesively tell us the story that realizes the concept. It is really well done and shows why Nate Russo is one of Pyper’s most complex, and most human, characters that he’s created yet.
Kudos to Audible, the performers and Andrew for this one. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see (or hear) of Russo and crew!