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Books We Like: Excellent Fantasy Narration

Published 7/26/2021 by Jamie Stroble

Books We Like: Excellent Fantasy Narration

Fantasy narrators get some of the most interesting vocal material to work with – whether it’s dragons, cities, tigers, handmaids or all-powerful gods - there’s a lot of space to play with different inflections and accents. Here are a few of my absolute favorite fantasy audiobooks from the past few years with standout audiobook narration.

“Highfire” by Eoin Colfer, narrated by Johnny Heller, is available to download and on CD. Heller is an accomplished narrator who’s voiced everything from children’s books to true crime. “Highfire” finds him voicing a 3,000 year old depressed dragon named Vern, who, as the last of his kind, just wants to be left alone to watch TV in his Louisiana swamp. His peace is disrupted, however, by a troubled kid and a murder mystery. Hijinks ensue. Heller’s bayou accent makes this book an absolute joy to listen to as it ricochets from comedy to action to the occasional and surprisingly emotional moment between a dragon and his boy.

“The City We Became” by N.K. Jemesin, narrated by Robin Miles, is available to download and on CD. Legendary narrator Miles had a tall order in voicing this innovative novel that imagines cites personified as people, with not only multiple denizens of New York City representing the five boroughs, but also other, much older cities like Sao Paulo and Hong Kong who pop in to give the fledgling NYC some much needed help in their quest to fight the existential evil threatening to destroy literally everything. Miles handles the many voices with ease, and for her talents won the 2021 Audie Award for “The City We Became” in two categories – best female narrator and best fantasy narration. It’s a highly entertaining novel laced with commentary on society and culture, and also monsters.

“The Sandman” by Neil Gaiman, is narrated by Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Neil Gaiman, James McAvoy, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, and Michael Sheen. With that cast, do you even need to know what it’s about to want to listen to it? Ok, you might. Based on the epic graphic novel series of the same name, this audiobook covers the first three volumes in the sweeping saga of gods, magic, mythology, and death, set in the DC comic universe. Not only has “The Sandman” received the full cast audiobook treatment, it’s also in development for a Netflix series (which also boasts an excellent cast). It’s hard to do “The Sandman” justice in a paragraph, especially since it’s meant to be viewed in graphic novel format, or in this case, listened to on audio. If you want to see the accompanying artwork, check out the book The Sandman: Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes.

Two books into The Singing Hills Cycle series of novellas by Nghi Vo, and I am already fully entranced by the lush writing and tantalizing narration. The two titles released so far, “The Empress of Salt and Fortune” and “When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain,” are framed by the concept of telling stories within stories, which narrator Cindy Kay imbues with a captivating and dream-like inflection. I can’t wait to hear more from this amazing young fantasy author, hopefully also narrated by the entrancing voice of Cindy Kay.