Currently Listening: Fantasy Audiobook Recs

The merits of audiobooks are many but these five below are the important ones in my opinion:

  • They make cooking/washing the dishes/folding laundry/cleaning the bathroom/knitting that scarf you’ve been trying to finish for years, seem like friendlier, even happier, tasks. (Most of these are activities one does regularly and I find that the prospect of listening to audiobooks makes me less likely to eat out or procrastinate.)
  • They cure page/screen caused headaches because all you have to do is lie back, close your eyes, and let the story carry you away.
  • They reveal sides of characters you didn’t know existed thanks to the particular way the narrator read something.
  • They teach you how to pronounce things and yes, it’s a big deal, if English/French/Nameless Ancient Demon Language isn’t your first language.
  • They are all about the journey, savouring the writing, surrounding yourself by the words– and at some point, you start to wish the end would never come.

If none of this appeals to you, now is the time you go check out the other TBW posts for the month. If you, like me, find being read to the best thing ever, stay! Make yourself comfortable! I’ve been listening to a few audiobooks at once and I have some recommendations!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, read by Khristine Hvam

Summary: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers – beautiful, haunted Akiva – fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? — [X]

Thoughts: So, Hvam is currently my favourite audiobook reader of all time. She is brilliant with accents, not bad with pronunciation of words from different languages, and she can go from ethereal angel to petulant teenager in seconds and make it seem totally natural. I honestly don’t think I would have liked this book as much as I did if it hadn’t been for Khristine Hvam. For sure, I would have skipped a bunch of things too, and I could have done that with the audio as well (doubling the speed), but Hvam’s voice was much too arresting. And it suits Laini Taylor’s writing perfectly. Can’t wait to start on the second one!

The Ghost Bride written and read by Yangsze Choo

Summary: Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, traditional ghost marriages are used to placate restless spirits. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lims’ handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits, and monstrous bureaucracy – including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets – and the truth about her own family – before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever. — [X]

Thoughts: I have wanted to read this book for ages. When I saw that the author was also the narrator, I made my decision. I got this one recently and started listening to it yesterday. So far, it’s wonderful. Yangsze Choo is a lovely writer as well as an excellent narrator. This also means no mangled pronunciations, so woo! I am really enjoying it.

Salsa Nocturna: Stories written and read by Daniel José Older

Summary: A 300-year-old story collector enlists the help of the computer hacker next door to save her dying sister. A half-resurrected cleanup man for Death’s sprawling bureaucracy faces a phantom pachyderm, doll-collecting sorceresses, and his own ghoulish bosses. Gordo, the old Cubano who watches over the graveyards and sleeping children of Brooklyn, stirs and lights another Malaguea. Down the midnight streets of New York, a whole invisible universe churns to life in Daniel José Older’s debut collection of ghost noir. — [X]

Thoughts:just bought this one. I missed Older’s writing too much, it takes far too long for Half-Resurrection Blues to be delivered, and I want to know exactly what “ghost noir” means. (Scary* urban fantasy? I’m hoping guessing?) The excerpt is excellent and I’m glad that Older is reading his own book. I’m fairly certain that this one– though it was published in print first– may be working better (for me) as an audiobook. Just seems like the kind of stories one would share with people on a cold day, over something warm, which makes it kind of perfect that it’s read to you by the author himself. I’m about fifteen minutes in and it’s already gripping. I’m actually kind of annoyed that I had to stop listening in order to write this post.

So, what are you lot listening to?

*I couldn’t bring myself to use the word “gritty”. It’s rapidly becoming one of my least favourite words. Though, still considerably below “muse”. Muuuuuse. Ugh. *shudder*