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Publisher's Summary

In the aftermath of the mysterious death of their lead singer, the young members of a now-legendary British acid folk band hole up at Wylding Hall, an ancient English country house with its own dark secrets. There they record Wylding Hall, the album that makes their reputation - but at a terrifying cost when Julian Blake, their new lead singer, disappears within the mansion and is never seen again.

Now, years later, the surviving musicians and their friends and lovers - including a psychic, a photographer, and the band's manager - meet with a young documentary filmmaker to tell their own versions of what happened during that summer. But whose story is the true one? And what really happened to Julian Blake?

©2015 Elizabeth Hand (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Wylding Hall

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    366
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    240
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    115
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    40
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    15
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    5
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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    307
  • 4 Stars
    206
  • 3 Stars
    124
  • 2 Stars
    47
  • 1 Stars
    26

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly Delightful

I'm usually not a fan of shorter stories but I'm glad I took a chance on this one. The documentary style really drew me in and I eagerly listed to different sides of the story. I often listen to stories before bed and this one gave me nightmares - I loved it! A little mystery and atmosphere goes a long way and this writer is superb. Definitely teading/listening more from this author.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Big buildup, disappointing ending

Cast was well done, pulls you in, then nothing. This story was a tease, flirts with you with tantalizing details about a missing lead singer and his ghost girl. Then it ends with no explanation, just a tiny hint.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

meh...

no story... mildly interesting characters

i bought this because I thought that it was a horror novel.... it's not

best part? it's short !

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Unexpected Gem

I listened to this on a drive from Houston to New Orleans (was the perfect length) and was pleasantly surprised. This is formatted like a documentary so if you like true crime docs or podcasts, this will feel a lot like that. the characters were really well fleshed out despite this being a fairly short story. The full cast performance and informal interview-style prose really helped the characters come to life.

As far as the story goes, the actual horror elements are subtle and sparse, but that's okay because it feels like you're being told a good ghost story by a mix of believers and skeptics. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I appreciated that not everything was spelled out for you, you won't get any clear answers from this story, because of the (sometimes unreliable) narrators recounting this in their own words. If you don't like stories that don't get neatly wrapped up, you may want to avoid this one.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I kept waiting for the story to start.

This was a nice trip down memory lane of the '70s, but the story was not well defined except that a guy's gone missing. Nobody knows what happened to him but they think he left with a girl.

Not a complaint wised of my time but I would not listen again.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Okay but the story is kind of thin.

Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone audiobook that I borrowed through Audible Plus.

Audiobook Quality (4/5): The audiobook was well done and the two narrators do an excellent job with all of the different character voices. This is one I would definitely recommend listening to on audiobook.

Story (3/5): I have read, and really enjoyed, a lot of Hand’s books, unfortunately I thought this one was a bit weak. The story is pretty thin here, basically a band rents out a mysterious estate, Wylding Hall, to record their new record at. After the suicide of one of their members, the lead singer Julian Blake disappears in the house somehow under mysterious circumstances.

The events are revealed through a series of interviews with the band members, their significant others, and the band manager. There is a lot of sex, drugs, and drinking throughout. It’s just a little blip of a story that felt kind of thin and predictable to me. I think it’s supposed to be mysterious and creepy but the fact that you can tell that Julian disappeared right from the beginning of the story makes the whole thing anti-climatic.

Characters (3/5): You hear interviews with a lot of characters so it’s hard to keep them straight and engage with them. Julian is given this kind of bigger than life persona which I felt like he never deserved. I don’t know, the whole cast of characters was kind of “blah” to me.

Setting (3/5): Wylding Hall should have been an amazing setting but it wasn’t really described well enough for me to picture it fully. It doesn’t ever really seem all that creepy or scary to me. Just kind of your typical old house setting.

Writing Style (3/5): I liked the interview style this was written in and how it slowly reveals the story. However, I just felt like the whole story was so thin and the characters were so underdeveloped that I kind of didn’t care about any of it.

My Summary (3/5): Overall I would have been just fine never listening to this, this is definitely not one of Hand’s finer stories. I would recommend skipping this. The whole premise is pretty thin and not well thought out and all the jumping between characters makes the story feel really fractured.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The very definition of "middling"

In the end, the problem is really that... not much happens. So there's a disappearance, years before the book takes place, but you're not really given any reason to care. This is a full-cast recording and, as is often the case, performance quality varies. At its best, this book has a kind of misty, nostalgic folk-horror quality, like a memory of watching The Wicker Man on a crisp autumn night years ago. But it doesn't hit those notes for long, alas. It does rather leave one wanting to listen to a lot of Fairport Convention, though.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Nothing really happens

It's alright, nothing great though. it's mostly Atmosphere with a disappearance we are told happened at the very beginning. there are some creepy moments toward the end of the book but not really worth the journey. still it is short and good to listen to so if you're looking for something that's mostly mood I would recommend this.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent Traditional Spooky Old House Yarn

I listened to music from this era often and happily, and the capture of the moment stitched in with a deft spooky tale (told nonsequentially and expertly) kept my attention with rare spirit. What a fine piece of work! Like an old Rolling Stone oral history combined with a Diana Rigg ghost story.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A modern twist on the manor house murder.

Great to listen to and still do other tasks. I really liked having a the different cast voices rather than just a single voice narration. The tension is built by the multi voice narration. A cast read book is going to be a key factor in my future selections.

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Profile Image for Beccameriel
  • Beccameriel
  • 06-30-15

Atmospheric English Folk Horror

Really my only complaint about this book is that it's too short. Its themes are very reminiscent of the English Folk Horror films of the 1970s like Blood on Satan's Claw and the Wicker Man. The story is set over one hot summer in the early 70s. An almost famous folk band are sent to stay in an ancient manor house deep in the countryside to write their second album. The sense of time and place is very believable as is the dynamic between the band members - at least to a non-musician like me. It really made me want to listen to the legendary album they create! The story is told in the present day so all the narrators are potentially unreliable given the distance of time and the alcohol and drugs they were consuming at Wylding Hall. No one has the full story and we can only piece together what happened from the subjective views of each character. There aren't really any shocks or big scares but instead a pervasive atmosphere of something not being quite right. Odd things happen and are never really explained so if you get frustrated by stories that lack a big denouement and exposition you might not like this very much.

As you can see it's quite short; more of a novella and probably one to get if you have a few spare credits. I would listen to it on a hot summer day - ideally sitting outside under a tree. Just watch out for the wrens.

The narrators are uniformly excellent. Having a different actor for each part really adds to the experience of listening to the book.

I've only read one other book by Elizabeth Hand and going by this I wish there was more of her work available on audio.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Pullman
  • 09-16-21

Really enjoyable

This is a proper old-school ghost story. No guts or gore, just something genuinely creepy and disturbing. Perfect for what it is.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-12-21

Great!

Great book, really enjoyed all the different narrators and the story which kept me enthralled until the end.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Luke Barclay
  • 09-17-21

loved it!

I honestly couldn't put this down. I'm certainly recommending it to friends and ive already pestered my partner to read it.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • eamonn keating
  • 08-13-21

really enjoyed that

that was very good. Well done and actually quite scary when it came to it. Good job

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marion G.
  • 08-06-21

Well worth a listen

I love full cast dramas and this one is pretty good - and even better as it is free with my membership. Well narrated, quite spooky without being scary and short enough to keep you happy for the duration.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 12-21-21

Great entertainment

Wonderfully atmospheric ghost story, produced as a series of interviews by all those involved. It was exceptionally well performed, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 12-09-21

Surprisingly Good

I don't know what I expected from this book but I was pleasantly surprised by what I got.

This is less of a thriller/horror than I expected it to be and is much more about the characters and their interpersonal relationships (the type of book I usually shy away from). In fact, the story is much more focused on the characters than it is on the plot.

The conclusion is nothing new as the plot has been covered many times before (and you don't actually find out WHY certains things happened only how they happened). However, by the time I found out what happened to the missing singer I didn't really care; I was more annoyed that the book had ended because I was enjoying it so much.

The characters are well defined and feel very real. I actually found myself wanting to know more about every one of them and their stories, after Wylding Hall, when I had finished the book.

The writing is engaging and very entertaining. The way the book is structured, almost like each person is being interviewed, is different to most books in this genre and makes it feel unique.

The narrators are excellent!

The book kept me gripped throughout due to the author's talent for storytelling and the narrators' top class performances. I listened in one sitting though I had not initially intended to do so.

I will definitely check out more of Elizabeth Hand's books as her writing style is excellent. I would highly recommend all audible members to give this book a listen as it is included free with membership, though if truth be told it is well worth a credit.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KindleReader478
  • 11-28-21

Creepy and interesting

Really good story, well told. The audio version was nicely done. Creepy atmosphere throughout the book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Swords and Spectres
  • 11-27-21

Addictive from start to finish

Wylding Hall was something that caught my eye on the Audible Plus collection and, with it being a freebie through that, I felt there was zero risk in giving it a go. 

I'll be honest, I had zero clue what to expect (having never experienced the author before), so this is one of those rare books that I can just go in blind and have no preconceived notion as to how good or bad I think a title will be. Which, if I'm honest, is the absolute best way for me. May have to try out more random finds.

I can't speak for the printed version, but the documentary style of this worked insanely well via audio book. The narrators all did a wonderful job of actually sounding like they lived the experiences being talked about and, I'll be entirely honest, there were large portions of this where I felt the acting was so good that I just totally forgot it was fiction. If someone had hit play and told me I was listening to an unexplained mystery as told by the surviving members of the band that actually lived it, I'd totally have believed them. So, well done to everyone involved with making this.

The overall story was good, but not excellent. This is mostly because of the open-ended ending that just leaves enough room for every possible outcome to have actually taken place. It's pretty much a 'the reader can't go wrong' ending ... until you talk to someone else who read it and they have a totally different take to you. Then the fun would start with the whole discussion as to what happened. So, I suppose, with that in mind, maybe it was excellent. I really don't know. Elizabeth Hand has created something that could be amazing or could just be very good. 

Either way, I enjoyed it, so bravo to the author.

The horror aspect of this is more atmospheric and very light as all things scary go. It's the kind of 'horror' that pretty much anyone can get through, even if the slightest bit of horror sends them running for the hills in fear. That sounds fairly negative, but for this piece, it worked very well and I really enjoyed it. It felt more realistic due to the lack of overt creepiness. Everything had both a potential rational explanation and a potential grounded explanation.

One other slight negative is that it's mostly build up. Mostly getting to know the band, the people involved, their little quirks etc ...that's all super-enjoyable, but for a four and a half hour audio book, it did feel like too much slow burn. Yet, oddly, it worked. 

I know. Really indecisive review. Apologies.

All in all, I raced through it, loved the characters, the voice acting and the story as a whole. It's the whole 'I can't decide if this was fantastic or just good that has me not giving it top marks. But my 4 out of 5 is certainly towards the higher end of the scale.