Buddy Reads & Rants: Dead Voices (Jonny Pongratz and Iseult Murphy)

Hello Blogging World!

Iseult: Hello all, Iseult here. I love to read and write horror, fantasy and science fiction, and rant about it afterwards. There’s no one better to rant with about books (or anything at all, to be honest), than my bestie, Jonny. He’s also a wonderful writer, so BUY HIS BOOK!

Buy it, or the mirror goblins will get you.

Jonny : Aw shucks, you’re too kind! I love our buddy reads too! I can’t confirm any affiliation with the hordes of mirror goblins (it’s very unnecessarily complicated), but how will you really know unless you buy my and Iseult’s books?

Better safe than sorry, muahahaha!


This buddy read and rant is for Dead Voice by Katherine Arden.


After reading Small Spaces, we couldn’t resist another creepy journey! Let’s get right into things!



Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Dead Voices is a terrifying follow-up to Small Spaces with thrills and chills galore and the captive foreboding of a classic ghost story.



Buddy Read Book Rant:


Ok, so I loved that Ollie, Coco and Brian were back in the sequel, but I felt Brian was given the short end of the straw. He disappears for practically the whole second half of the book. What was that about?


Yeah, I liked their strengthened bond, and that was really showcased. I totally agree on Brian’s disappearance. It felt like he just kind of disappeared and then near the end he’s just like “oh, I’m back!” It was also interesting that Coco got her own POV but Brian didn’t.


I liked that Coco got her own POV. I understand why Ollie had a POV, but why couldn’t Brian have one too?


Yeah, is it just me or was the first book completely in Ollie’s POV? I think it was a refreshing change for sure, but agree that it’s odd that they get POV’s and their homeboy doesn’t. Maybe the author didn’t have enough material for his character to stand out?

Speaking of standing out, is there anything that really worked for you? I think hands down, the setting and ambience of this story was spot on. It reminded me of The Shining a bit with the lodge, and I love love LOVE winter! I’m the kinda guy that skips around gaily while everyone else is grumbling about how cold it is. It’s super humid here in Missouri, so I was living for the atmosphere, and I even lit some candles and played blizzard sounds to give the ambience an extra boost. I felt like I was there.


The first book is all in Ollie’s POV.

I LOVED the setting! I loved that it was like reading The Shining for a middle grade audience. The lodge being snowed in was very claustrophobic and atmospheric. I thought the setting was a real soundout.

How about those mirrors? I don’t know about you, but I find mirrors scary. I am convinced I’m going to see something that doesn’t belong, especially when it’s dark. How would you cope with seeing the ghosts in the mirror?


Oh okay, thanks for verifying.

I’m right there with you. *pouts* Why can’t I be snowed in at a haunted ski lodge? Ugh, that would so make my day!

Yeah, mirrors are a creepy concept especially since watching that movie called Mirrors. Lordy lordy! Oh my gosh, I would probably run away screaming. I think I could outrun them. Let’s hope so!

I think the ghosts were really well executed in this book. Mother Hemlock was especially frightening and had this evil stepmother feel to her that may even rival The Smiling Man’s creep factor. That woman is cold, literally!


Haha! You would definitely be able to run away, even through deep snowdrifts. I’d be rightly caught by the ghosts.

Mirrors is a a great movie. There are a few similarities between it and this book actually!

Mother Hemlock is one creepy character. I could have done with more information about her. I get that the lodge used to be an orphanage, but I thought there would be more to her story.


Lol, run Jonny, run! I wouldn’t leave you behind, I promise! Ghost hunters gotta stick together.

Yeah, it’s pretty high up there on my favorites, but I don’t watch it often because it still freaks me out a little bit. Hmm, maybe the author got some ideas from that movie. Quick, let’s send her many emails demanding to know the answer! Just kidding, I’ll be good.

I think not giving Mother Hemlock more backstory is a missed opportunity, although she was certainly portrayed well without the extra information. It just could’ve kicked things up a notch.



Thanks, Jonny, glad you won’t leave me behind. 😊

I think we should definitely contact the author and demand answers! We need to know!

I liked that Brian was reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The ghosts made me think of the nightmare island in the book. There was another literary allusion that I thought was very appropriate and I can’t remember it! Ah! Did you catch that?



I wouldn’t dream of it. 😉

Yeah, totally! It would be very intriguing to know what her inspirations for this book were.

Yes, yes he was! I actually haven’t read that book in about five years, so I don’t really remember too much detail about it. So sorry, but I like the shout out to Lewis in this book.



Yes, I like the literary allusions in both books.

I’m so glad Ollie’s dad continued with his awesome cooking. I want him to come cook for me. The descriptions made my mouth water.

I thought Ollie made some stupid decisions in this book compared to the first book. Was that just me, or did you also think her character got dumber in the sequel?


Oh my gosh, yes to all the food! I’m a foodie and constantly eating, so I need a personal chef like Ollie’s dad.

I agree with you on the decision-making. It wasn’t a constant thing, but here and there they would question certain things that didn’t make sense to me. I get that the author probably didn’t want them to come to the right conclusions too quickly, but sometimes I think she dumbed them down a little too much.



Yes, I want a personal chef like him too!

I liked that Ollie’s anger over her dad and Coco’s mom getting close made her impulsive, but that could only explain so much of her behavior.

So let’s talk about the two half’s of the book. I loved the first half, very atmospheric and chilling and Overlook hotelesque. However, the action and revelations of the second half were what kicked up a gear for me. I know you had the opposite impression. What was it about the second half that lost a star for you?


Couldn’t agree with you more on the first half. It really created this creepy setting and set the tone for the rest of the book well.

What really killed the star for me was missed opportunities. We talked about Mother Hemlock and how she could’ve had more depth, and Ollie’s anger over her dad and Coco’s mom is actually another example I wanted to use. In the first book, Ollie had some character growth. In this novel she could’ve grown by approaching her dad about Coco’s mom and their obvious attraction to each other. He could’ve explained to her that while no one can replace her mother, he has to move on with his life and so does she. This was a perfect opportunity, but it was never addressed. These examples, the dumbing down of the characters in small spots, and Brian’s overall disappearance is what really took that fifth star away for me.

But believe me, I’m definitely going to finish this series as they’re published. Arden really does a great job overall and no author is perfect.



Yes, I agree with you on those points.

I really liked the reference to Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal in the second half. I liked the journey through the mirror, and Coco using her brain.

Thanks for doing this with me Jonny!


Thank you as well! I’m excited and curious about our next book, since we read the last published book in this series to date. What ever shall we pick? Stay tuned folks!


That’s A Wrap!

Thanks for joining us on our buddy read and rant of Dead Voices! We had a lot of fun, and hope you did too! We will definitely be doing some more buddy reads in the future, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, why not check out Iseult and Jonny’s other fun buddy reads?

Buddy Read & Rant: The Upheaval

Buddy Read & Rant: Thornhill

Buddy Read & Rant: Shutter

Buddy Read & Rant: Small Spaces


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  1. Love this! I’m looking forward to reading Small Spaces. Sorry this wasn’t quite as good as the first though. Can’t wait to see what you 2 read next!

    • Yeah, I didn’t like the direction she took the characters in this time around. Hoping for that to be improved on in the third book when it comes out.

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