Written by Stephen Mark Rainey, Directed by Darren Gross
In which Angelique (Parker) has renounced witchcraft for five years, hoping to avoid the eternal damnation that awaits her. But when Quentin Collins (Selby) arrives at her cottage, begging for her help in saving Collinwood and himself, can she resist slipping back into old habits?
Although starring the same two people, The Path of Fate couldn’t be more different than The Skin Walkers – thankfully! Ably narrated by Lara Parker, this story explores her character’s psyche more concisely and incisively than Angelique’s Descent did; she’s compared to a spoiled little girl who breaks her toys out of boredom and sees herself not as an evil person, but as someone determined to do whatever it takes to make herself happy and stay that way. It should come as no surprise that Parker is excellent as always, carrying the production with ease and delivering some truly wrenching and unsettling screams along the way too.
Thankfully, David Selby is back to fine form after his missteps in the previous audio. He doesn’t overdo the anguish or confusion as Quentin finds himself controlled by an outside influence, and he’s almost unrecognizable as the entity that ultimately possesses the immortal.
Additionally, The Path of Fate answers some long-standing questions from the 1840 storyline during Dark Shadows’ waning days – such as, how did the first Quentin Collins ever manage to construct a Stairway Through Time? – yet remains accessible enough for casual listeners as well. A simple yet highly effective soundscape perfectly complements and augments the atmosphere of dread and unease that everyone’s trying to conjure here. Things may get a bit too “timey-wimey” towards the end, but that’s a minor complaint against this audio’s many positives.
VERDICT: Mysterious stairways leading to possible near-future realities? An alternate Collinwood decorated with eldritch statuary? Severed relics infused with terrible powers? This is my kind of Dark Shadows – more, please!! 9/10
John S. Hall