Title: Wiener Blut
Author: Katharina Maimer
Released: 12 December 2010 – 19 March 2011
Located: Podiobooks, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast, ebook (here or here) and dead tree coming very soon
Rating: PG for violence and mildly suggestive sexual situations
Some stories you hear about many months after complete. Some stories you find out about as they’re being released. And then a few stories you know about as they’re being written. Wiener Blut is one of the latter for me. Ms. Maimer is a good friend and Wiener Blut was is her debut novel. When Ms. Maimer decided to enter NaNoWriMo this last November, she wasn’t sure she would finish. I knew she could. She did. And then she barely made it to December before she began to podcast it.
So, on to the review.
Synopsis: When Isabelle’s secret past returns to haunt her nightmares, she must take action to protect her family from a threat that is closer than she realises.
Set within the traditional Viennese café culture, ‘Wiener Blut’ (literally translated as ‘Viennese Blood’) is the story of café owner Isabelle Schindler-Krug and her role in a struggle for power that stretches back for centuries.
As she tells her sons the legends behind coffee and Vienna, it becomes clear that one such legend is still in the making, with her own family caught right in the middle. [A bit more from me on synopsis here. While not spartan, this synopsis is still just a wee bit short for me. It does entice me, but it doesn't seal the deal.] (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)
Production: I initially subscribed through iTunes and while I had no problem with the audio, I did notice that Wiener Blut made good use of the stereo effect for conversatons and it occurred to me that most podiobooks do not. Recently, the only other one I could remember was Prometheus Radio Theater. I later re-listened to a couple of the same episodes downloaded through Podiobooks.com and noticed that the effect was now missing. I questioned Katharina on this fact and she confirmed that these eps had been re-engineered due to the fact that one of the Podiobooks.com guidelines requests this. I was initially a bit surprised, but it made much sense when I considered the fact that during the Prometheus episodes I was reduced to hearing half a conversation through my earbuds while I kept the other ear on my children. Still, the production is quite good and I have no problems with any aspect of it. [note: When I am a first pass listener and one or another issue is discovered with an ep, and the author states they have discovered it and fixed it, I give the podcast the marks it would have received if I had never heard the issue. I DO NOT go back and listen to the ep again in order to verify. I just don't have time.]
As a final production note, though Wiener Blut is not a long book, it never missed a release window. I don’t have issues with an occasional missed week, but it sure is nice when they don’t occur. This is even more rare when the book is being recorded as eps are being dropped. For all that accomplish this herculean task, good work!
Cast: This cast is a freaking who’s who of podcasting talent. With the exception of two voices that readily come to mind, I think ALL of my favorites are here. That is an amazing accomplishment. With this kind of cast, it shouldn’t be surprising that I felt the story was read exceptionally well. There was one “extra” [me] that sounded like a total hack with the one line he handled [sorry] but hopefully that will be overlooked by all of the awesome that surrounded it.
Story: Wiener Blut is an easy story to listen to and an even easier story to enjoy. If you have trouble with accents, you might have issues with this story, but then, I don’t want to hear about it. This is a story that starts out in the world we know and ends up elsewhere, but not in the usual way, and I was able to enjoy the travels between the two worlds. The characters are well done and come to life on their own. Initially, I was led into believing the antagonist was other than whom it ended up being, which made me enjoy it even more. The sexes are evenly and fairly portrayed which happens more often in novels written by females (or it least it seems to me to be so at the time of this writing).
Verdict: Ms. Maimer made no secret on Twitter or at various times in the comments on this blog that she has been taking notes on the things that might appeal to a certain reviewer. I can say that although the lack of TSSF and other silly annoyances like that were nice, it would never have garnered a positive review from me in and of itself. Neither would being a friend of mine. There is only one way to get a positive review on this blog: write something I like. Start with characters and go from there. This is exactly what Ms. Maimer has done. The peek into Viennese coffee house life is fascinating, the coffees look and sound devine, and the characters carry the story. While I might be able to list these attributes, they’re not really something that would fit nicely on a checklist. It’s a first novel that doesn’t read like a first novel. I commend Ms. Maimer for not only putting the story into production as quickly as she did, but for doing it in such a polished form. One could probably always do more editing, but this story is far from unedited. I do recommend Wiener Blut, and after listening, I think you will too.
Disclosure: Not only am I friends with Ms. Maimer (the name is Katharina, not Kat), but I also work as first line editor (first line of rejection) for the joint podcast she does with Mick Bordet (her kilt wearing snuggle bunny), Every Photo Tells. We exchange Christmas cards and I entirely expect to be invited to Europe at some future time for some future event.