The Cold Beneath by Tonia Brown, read by Chris Barnes

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Reviewing radio dramas and readings on a regular basis takes me into new areas of literary and popular fiction that I'd never even dreamed of exploring. One such area is the steampunk novel, a subgenre of science fiction in which steam power predominates as the source of energy technologies.  I don't want to say too much more - for fear of pronouncing on something I've never encountered previously - but I have to say that on the basis of listening to The Cold Beneath, it seems to be a genre preoccupied with reinventing the past, or at least showing how the past can impact the present and future.
The action is picaresque in structure, set around a journey to the North Pole.  Phillip Syntax is the world's best biomechanic, with a colourful past donminated by betrayal and lost love.  He embarks on an expedition full of good intentions, but things eventually turn out for the worse when his airship, the Northern Fancy, crashes in the frozen wastes of the north, leaving the crew to fend for themselves against all comers.  What happens next is the kernel of the novel, but suffice to say that it involves the kind of zombie action that makes Jacques Tourneur's famous film I Walked With a Zombie look like a walk in the park.
Chris Barnes should be congratulated on his efforts to record the entire novel, a task which apparently took over fifty days to complete.  He reads in calm, measured tones, his slight Scots burr sounding so comforting that we are lulled into a sense of false security.  As the action of the novel unfolds, so his tones become more animated, but he never seems to forget that the main interest for readers lies in the ways in which ordinary people learn (or perhaps fail) to cope with extraordinary circumstances.  Hence it is important that the narrator retains his measured tones, even while describing bizarre events.  Barnes carries off this task with aplomb.
If you want to hear an enthusiast taking a genuine pleasure in his task, then I urge you to buy this download.