cover image Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Karen Russell, read by multiple narrators. Random House Audio, unabridged, library edition, eight CDs, 9.25 hours, $40 ISBN 978-0-449-01371-7

In this collection of stories from Russell (Swamplandia!), multiple threads are tied together by pervasive magical realism, with the author’s macabre imagination conjuring malevolent seagulls, karmic scarecrows, and melancholy vampires who sate their thirst by biting into succulent Italian lemons instead of human necks. Among the standouts in the audio edition is Joy Osmanski’s reading of “Reeling for the Empire,” in which young Japanese factory workers take quiet revenge on their employer, who has enslaved them as human silkworms. Osmanski’s soft voice and unhurried manner are perfectly suited to this story; she uses long pauses as she tells of the workers’ struggle to retain their humanity. Equally charming is Robbie Daymond’s narration of “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis,” about adolescent bullies who come across an oddly familiar scarecrow. Daymond gives each of the four bullies—and their gentle victim—unique voices that are easy to differentiate. A Knopf hardcover. (Feb.)