Book review: Brian Minchin — Torchwood: The Sin Eaters (Read by Gareth David-Lloyd)

This is one of the series of Torchwood audiobooks read by cast members, and the first to be read by Gareth David-Lloyd. This one is only available as an audiobook, not in print. I bought it because I’d heard a sample of David-Lloyd reading an audiobook, and thought he was a good reader. It was well worth the money. The story’s the usual competent tie-in work I’ve found with previous Torchwood books, and David-Lloyd is an excellent audiobook reader.

The story itself is set between series 2 and series 3, with references and foreshadowing that tie it firmly into the series universe for those who’ve seen the referenced episodes, without excluding those who haven’t seen them, or overwhelming the story. The basic plot is standard monster-of-the-week fare for the Torchwood corner of the Whoniverse — an alien castaway courtesy of the rift, its threat magnified by the meddling of local humans who don’t understand what they’re playing with. In this case it’s alien insect larvae which feed on human emotions, and a vicar who thinks he’s found a way to heal people of their sins and guilt. It’s competently written, with a good look at love and the complexity of human emotions, but there’s nothing particularly noteworthy here.

What does stand out is the characterisation, which is as good as you’d expect from the man who was script editor for the show. One thing which I particularly liked was that it showcases both the Gwen/Rhys and the Jack/Ianto relationships, while still acknowledging the attraction between Jack and Gwen. There are a lot of small details which build on what we’ve already been shown in the tv series, showing how the characters and their relationships are developing and changing. It’s a particular joy to see the playful and affectionate side of both romances.

Gareth David-Lloyd does an excellent job of reading the book. He’s a good reader when it comes to the mechanics of reading aloud, well paced and with good tonal colour. He’s also very good at portraying the various characters already known to listeners from the tv series, getting most of them spot on in their dialogue. It’s usually clear who’s speaking, even without dialogue tags — and you can tell the difference between narrator and Ianto’s dialogue. He even mostly gets Jack’s American accent right. I hope he’s invited to do more of the audiobooks.

At two full-length CDs, it’s a lot longer than a standard tv or radio episode, but with it being an audio book you’d expect that for the same basic story. I didn’t feel that it was padded or too long. It feels about the same as reading one of the print tie-in books. Minchin makes good use of the format, taking advantage of being able to show interior monologue without crossing too far into telling rather than showing.

I enjoyed this a lot, and happily listened to it again a couple of weeks after the first time through. Definitely worth the attention of Torchwood fans in general, and very much recommended for fans of both Ianto Jones and Gareth David-Lloyd — both the character and the actor are well served by this title.

Available as both CD and download.

LibraryThing entry
at Amazon UK
at Play
at Amazon US

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4 thoughts on “Book review: Brian Minchin — Torchwood: The Sin Eaters (Read by Gareth David-Lloyd)

  1. I agree totally with you. Gareth has one of the most compelling voices I’ve ever heard. I could listen to him read the phone book and enjoy it. I tend to listen to this story at least once a week and have yet to tire of it.
    He also sings wonderfully and I love his band Blue Gillespie.
    The only thing I disagree with (and this is the Woodie/ Ianto lover in me talking) is your comment about this story being set between series 2 and 3. In my humble opinion, series 3 never took place.
    Judy

    1. There is a certain amount of foreshadowing of series 3 you’ll have to ignore, of course. But I much prefer the way the Jack/Ianto relationship is portrayed in this story. The fairly equal level of affection and security is a much more natural development of where the relationship was towards the end of series 2 than what we get through most of series 3.

    1. If this is the sort of thing you like, you’ll probably like Torchwood a lot — although the quality of individual episodes varies enormously. With it starting life on the BBC’s channel for minority and cult interest shows, they had a lot more freedom to experiment than they would have had on the mainstream channel, and it shows — for both good and ill.

      I’ve been doing reaction posts on my LiveJournal to the episodes as I work my way through the season 1 boxset — on hiatus after I got a job, but it will give you some feel for the show:
      DVD reviews

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