Story Time Reviews “The Night Librarian”

Story Time Reviews is a blog series that reviews short stories both read and read aloud. Today Story Time Reviews “The Night Librarian” by Jane Jago, read by Chris Herron on TallTaleTV. 

Working as the night librarian in a library full of magical books comes with its perks, but also its heaping spoonful of issues.

Duration: 22:51

The Story

This is definitely a story for adult ears. Some commenters complained about the lack of a content warning and wished there had been a hint of the content within the title or story description.

“The Night Librarian” is a complete short story (approx. 6000 words in length). The protagonist is the title character described as a dumpy girl with a determined chin. Her job is to re-shelve the magical books that don’t always want to stay in their places. It’s a tricky job, but she brooks no disorder.

After she re-shelves the last trolley full of books to the erotica stack, a multi-species band of magical creatures appeal to her for help. Something scary has slipped out of the pages of a book and hidden itself in the stacks. Scary enough that magical creatures who don’t normally get along huddle in the group asking for help.

Her first attempt puts an evil-sounding reptilian presence back in his place. But the magical creatures let her know he wasn’t the one they fear. She must banish the creature before sunrise or it will live in the librarian forever.

The Author

Jane Jago is a self-described genre-hopping maniac, who could no more stop reading than she could stop breathing.

She lives in “the beautiful west country with my big, silly dog and my big sensible husband.”

A self-published indie author, she is also a co-author of the Dia and Julia Mysteries. A complete list of Jago’s published stories is on Amazon.

Her brief bio at the end of the video is delightful. Be sure to listen to it.

A complete list of Jago’s published stories is on Amazon.

You also can find Jane Jago on Facebook and Goodreads.

The Voice Talent

The voice talent reading “The Night Librarian” is Chris Herron creator of TallTaleTV a podcast and YouTube channel.

In his bio, Herron tells us that his poorly controlled diabetes caused legal blindness in 2015. His doctors said he had an 80% chance of never seeing again.

It was a tough time for him. His wife took him to the library and read audiobook titles to him. He listened to books he had read and loved. Audiobooks helped him in ways he hadn’t imagined they would. 

Herron changed his lifestyle and beat the odds. His love of audiobooks led to a new goal: to become a narrator and help writers showcase their work. 

Tall Tale TV features sci-fi and fantasy short stories. He reads a new story every Monday and Friday.

My Opinion

The Story

“The Night Librarian” is interesting, with plenty of pleasing alliteration and interesting word choices. The first sentence places us solidly in the library.

It was very quiet in this area of the stacks.

“The Night Librarian” by Jane Jago
Photograph of a view of library stacks perhaps like the one where the night librarian works.

The second sentence hints that this library will not be like most.

So quiet that if you listened carefully enough you could hear the books breathing.

“The Night Librarian” by Jane Jago

Appearances by notable familiar fantasy creatures and persons were delightful. And there’s nice increasing tension in the build up to confrontations with the evil creatures.

The story voice is more distant than I prefer. It’s almost but not quite an omniscient viewpoint. That is a minor, personal preference.

However, the story was not quite satisfying. My dissatisfaction comes from the fact that the protagonist barely struggled and ultimately it was not her actions that defeated the villain.

The Narrator

While I didn’t care for the voice of the librarian, the rest of the narration was pleasing. I deeply enjoyed the voices of the evil creatures.

I’m guessing Herron is self-trained. His reading is not of a professional actor level, but he is consistent and has a unique voice for each character. Not of a professional actor level isn’t a criticism. It’s simply a statement that either production or voice or both have room to grow.

Professional or not, his almost 4K subscribers enjoy listening to him.

About Content Warnings

I want to add one more note. While there are reading and viewing topics that will trigger me, this story did not. My preference is to not give or read content warnings. The story title, description, and the first page or paragraphs should give a hint if the story includes sensitive issues. The erotica element was first mentioned in this story at 3:31 minutes. For me, the 15% mark is acceptable.

Was the erotica necessary to the story? Not entirely, but it added to the setting, character development, and the tone of the story. Therefore, I believe its inclusion is the author’s prerogative.


Story Time reviews “The Night Librarian” by Jane Jago as read by Chris Herron on TallTaleTV. The story held my interest and much of it delighted me. I give it four stars. If it had a more satisfying ending, I would have given it five. As always, your mileage may differ. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. Better yet, give the author and YouTube channel a review.

Story Time Reviews “Operation Haystack”

Story Time Reviews “Operation Haystack” by Frank Herbert. If you enjoy science fiction spy mysteries, you’ll enjoy this short story. It first appeared in Astounding in May 1959.  This review is of the public domain LibriVox recording. It is a little more than. 48 minutes in duration.

Image of an Alien city scape

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.

— Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune

The Story

The story is about Field Agent Lewis Orne, injured during an assignment on a planet ruled by women. The doctors have no hope of saving him. A “womblike creche pod” had taken over most of his badly mangled body’s vital functions. Umbo Stetson, Orne’s section chief, writes Orne’s mother about her son’s condition. She is too ill to travel. In her stead, a friend and local, Mrs. Ipscott Bullone of Marak, wife of the High Commissioner, takes over for the family. 

Miraculously Orne survives. Mrs. Bullone invites Orne to recuperate at her home after his discharge from the hospital.  This is an opportunity Stetson can’t pass up. He suspects Ipscott Bullone of being the head of a conspiracy to take over the government. Stetson assigns Orne to spy on the family during his stay. 

Orne falls for the Bullone daughter and discovers long kept secrets and conspiracies. Will he stay loyal to the service and possibly lose the love he’s found? Or will he expose the secrets and conspiracies? And will that be enough to save the government of Maresk?

If you prefer print it’s available on Amazon at 99¢

The Author

An avid reader, Franklin (Frank) Patrick Herbert Jr. (1920-1986) didn’t graduate from college. He refused to take mandatory classes. He wanted to study what he wanted to study. And he wrote what he wanted to write. 

On his eighth birthday, Herbert declared he wanted to be an author. As an adult, he had a difficult time making a living at first. He bounced from “job to job and town to town.”

He is best know for his novel, Dune (1965), and its sequels. 

Many of his works are complex with themes involving genetic manipulation through selective mating, human evolution, the corruptibility of government, and the intersection of religion, politics, economics, and power. 

His bibliography is impressive. He wrote over forty short stories, six Dune novels, a four book series called WorShip, two ConSentiency novels, plus at least fifteen more novels, six short story collections, and six nonfiction books. Find a more complete bibliography on wikipedia.

He died of a massive pulmonary embolism, a complication of surgery for pancreatic cancer. 

The Voice Talent

Gregg Margarite (1957-2012) was a voice artist, a musician, and a big dog owner. He recorded 205 hours, 58 minutes, and 30 seconds of audiobooks. Most of that was for LibriVox.

His understated vocal style was clear and unobtrusive. He didn’t do “voices.” He simply told the story. 

His body of work reflects his love of short science fiction.  You can find his audio catalog here.

My Opinion

Overall, I enjoyed the story. 

The story holds Herbert’s usual themes: politics, power, and corruption. There are also hints of the Bene Gesserit from Dune

It’s pacing and suspense is excellent. And I enjoyed some of Herbert’s very nice descriptions.

On reflection, I don’t think the story begins in the right place. The injury and recovery feel a bit “added on.” Some aspects of the story reflect writing styles in the late 1950s. Thus, Orne’s is not an intimate viewpoint.

The understated narration of the story bothered me at first. Usually, I like a more dramatic reading. But I found myself drawn into the story. 


I admire and am enamored of Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune.  He researched and developed Dune over a six-year period. While the Dune website does not acknowledge “Operation Haystack” as one of the Dune stories, I believe it involves an early version of the Bene Gesserit. 

I recommend reading or listening to this story. You will see the strengths and weaknesses of Herbert’s early writings. And his theme about politics and power will make you think. I  give this story four of five stars. 

If you enjoyed this episode, Story Time Reviews “Operation Haystack by Frank Herbert, you may wish to look at previous episodes. You can read reviews of stories by Ray Bradbury, H. Beam Piper, and Isaac Asimov

Story Time Reviews H. Beam Piper

If you like post-apocalyptic fiction, you’ll enjoy Story Time Reviews H. Beam Piper. Piper’s short story, “The Answer,” first appeared in the December 1959 issue of Fantastic Universe Science Fiction. This review is of the LibriVox public domain recording. Approximately 30 minutes in duration, it is the first story in LibriVox’s Five Sci-Fi Short Stories by H. Beam Piper audiobook.

The Story

Redstone Missile test firing from 1950's evokes the mood of the story discussed in Story Time Reviews H. Beam Piper.
Test Firing at Redstone Test stand In Early 1950’s. Public Domain.

The snap of a screen door wakes Lee Richardson from a dream he wants to remember. Dream glimpses of a woman with a dachshund are precious to him, they were all he had for the last fifteen years. His colleague, Alexis Pitov, a Russian calls out to him.  

Fifteen years earlier, in the autumn of 1969, the United States and the Soviet Union had been “blown to rubble.” Russian believes the US sent first bomb. The US believes the Russians launched the attack, though, they wondered why only the Russians had sent only one bomb until hours after they launched the counterattack.

Alexis assures Lee that the Russians did not launch the first strike. Lee believes him. 

Lee and Alexis are in Buenos Aires, taking part in a “scientific experiment.” “Professor Doctor Lee Richardson and Comrade Professor Alexis Petrovitch Pitov, getting ready to test a missile with a matter-annihilation warhead.” It was not a weapon, but the result of studying and constructing negative-proton matter. It was a way to dispose of the products of that study.

Through the back-and-forth conversation between these two characters we learn how they survived the annihilation and what they’d lost. And how they are each tortured by the question of who sent the first nuclear bomb to Auburn, New York. And how Lee has certain suspicions about what they’ve constructed and what had happened fifteen years ago.

No, I’ll not spoil the twist at the end.

LibriVox “sees itself as a library of audiobooks. Because the books we read are in the public domain, our readers and listeners should be aware of many of them are very old, and may contain language or express notions that are antiquated at best, offending at worst.”

Most of the narrators for LibriVox are volunteers. I could not discover the name of the narrator of this story. He was superb. He clearly conveyed the different characters and the tone of the story.

H. Beam Piper

Public Domain image of H. Beam Piper for Story Time Reviews H. Beam Piper

American science fiction author H. Beam Piper  (March 23, 1904—November 6, 1964) wrote “The Answer.” The H stood for Henry. His first published story “Time and Time Again” appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1947.

The most descriptive and detailed biography I’ve read online was John Carr’s “The Last Cavalier.”

Piper worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and wrote stories.  According to “The Last Cavalier,” Piper was a self-educated man who “probably read more books than any professor.” He was a hunter, a hiker, “inclined to stubbornness, atheism and given the idea of creating an aura of the Victorian about himself most of the time.” He studied history and visited obscure historical sites.

He unfortunately did not manage money well. And the small sums he made writing were not enough to keep poverty at bay. He died of an apparent suicide.

My Opinion

I had not read this story before. And I loved it. H. Beam Piper’s writing style is vivid and thoughtful, with characters I grew to love. The story relentlessly builds tension and suspense to a twist ending that satisfies.

Would I call this a dystopian story? No. The society that these characters live in does not place burdens or restraints upon the characters. It is a post-apoc story. 


Story Time Reviews remembers that special time when an adult reads to a child and recognizes that as a grown-up, we need to reward ourselves with a story time now and then. This blog series offers reviews of stories read aloud. See Story Time Reviews Ray Bradbury.

I hope you enjoyed Story Time Reviews H. Beam Piper. If you haven’t read (or listened) to any of H. Beam Piper’s fiction, I highly recommend it. You can find his bibliography on Wikipedia. If you like post-apocalyptic stories, especially if you’re of the age that remembers The Cold War, you will find “The Answer” a satisfying read.

“The Land of Dreams,” a Story Time Review

This week Story Time Reviews Kate O’Connor’s “The Land of Dreams.” This short story first appeared in August 2013 in the online magazine, The Colored Lens.

Image of a pen writing "Once upon a time" on paper--Story Time Review a blog series by Lynette M. Burrows reviewing audio versions of short stories.

The Centropic Oracle published the audio version of “The Land of Dreams” August 17, 2018. Narrated by Larissa Thompson with music by Kyle Ohori and Ryley Kirkpatrick, this story runs 37 minutes.

The Narrator

Image of Larissa Thompson, actor and narrator of The Land of Dreams reviewed by Lynette M. Burrows' Story Time Reviews

Larissa Thompson is an actor and filmmaker living and working in Vancouver, BC (Canada). She’s a big fan of make-believe and will find any excuse possible to dress up in costume. No stranger to independent productions – or being interviewed on video or audio formats – she has a passion for sharing stories she loves with the world. (Thanks to Larissa’s website for this information and image.)

Larissa does a pretty good job of reading the story. Male voices were a bit similar, but they were never confusing. She did a decent job at a country farmer accent. Though the accent skated toward cliché it was never a turn-off. 

The Author

Image of Kate O'Connor, author of The Land of Dreams, reviewed by Lynette M. Burrows' Story Time Reviews

Kate O’Connor’s website gives this bio: 

Kate O’Connor was born in Virginia in 1982. She graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott in 2009 and now lives (and occasionally works) in the New York area.

Kate has been writing science fiction and fantasy since 2011. In between telling stories, she flies airplanes, digs up artifacts, and manages a kennel full of Airedales.

Her books include Mermaid, Salt and Sand, and Better to have Loved.

You can find Kate on goodreads and other social media. Her books are available on Amazon. (Thanks to Kate’s website for her bio and for her goodreads author page for her photo.)

Story Time Reviews

“The Land of Dreams” is a story about dream pigs and a farmer’s daughter, pheromones, and dreams of another life.

The main character, the farmer’s daughter, longs to expand the limits of her world on the farm controlled by her father.

I would like to know more about the dream pigs and the consequences referred to in the story. Those details aren’t necessary to enjoy the story, but I’m intrigued.

In a short story there isn’t room for a lot of character development so only the protagonist had the feel of a fully realized character. Pop came next but not nearly as well. The other two characters, three if you count the pig, were spear-carriers or place holders only.

It is a simple and mostly well-told story that left me a little unsatisfied. The story kept my interest the entire recording.

No spoilers, but my dissatisfaction comes from a rule laid out by the story and later violated without explanation. Let me know if you agree with me or if this did not affect your enjoyment of the story.

The Podcast

The story appeared on The Centropic Oracle which “publishes and showcases the artistic works science fiction/fantasy short story writers and voice over actors in an audio-only format.”

The Centropic Oracle: Thoughtful science fiction and fantasy short and flash audio stories can be found at or on Facebook.

The recording was high quality to my ears. 


Story Time Reviews gives this story and performance 4 out of 5 stars. 

This is the second Story Time Reviews post. You will find the first one, Story Time Reviews Ray Bradbury here.

Did Story Time Reviews “The Land of Dreams” by Kate O’Connor help you decide if you’d like to read or listen to this story? Is there something else you’d like included in the review? If you have a story you’d like featured in Story Time Reviews, list it in the comments below or email Lynette.