The title of this audiobook is the name of the first and last album to be recorded by The Yellow Kings, the fictional heavy metal band at the crux of this story.
Thirty years after a fatal concert killed all but one of the band members and hundreds of their fans, the truth of the event is finally revealed when surviving member Aidan Cross agrees to be interviewed.
He is gruff, weary and seeking closure, a state of mind expressed to perfection in Joe Hempel’s narration. You can hear the exhaustion in Cross’s voice and, as he relives the supernatural influences that led to the tragedy, you’re right alongside him with the fear and confusion that leads him to fight against his gut instinct for the sake of the band.
From band leader, Johnny, to his groupie girlfriend Camila, and fellow band members Bobby and Hank, Keisling creates distinct characters that remain equally distinct under Hempel’s deft hand. Keisling seems to have a good grasp on the music industry and the internal dynamics of a travelling band. It’s all very believable and interesting.
Where Keisling goes wrong however, is by pre-empting the action too much. We already know the final outcome, because the story is being told retrospectively by the sole survivor. The details and timing of the tragedy are the only mystery left but, as we travel along memory lane, Keisling chooses to forewarn rather than surprise his listeners with reflections akin to ‘I didn’t know tonight would be the last time I’d see them alive”. We are rarely caught by surprise and almost always know of any major twist that’s about to happen, making The Final Reconciliation a true memory play instead of the horror it’s expected to be. That’s not to say that Keisling’s story isn’t interesting or enjoyable. Quite the opposite. I’m just not convinced that ‘interesting’ is the adjective he was going for.