Narrators - they make or break an audiobook
What makes a good audiobook? A great story? A great narrator? Both? Yes! All of the above.
The thing about audiobooks is that you give up control of your experience of the book to a narrator. This can often be a good thing because a skilled narrator can exponentially enhance your experience of the book, especially when you find it hard to sit down and read fully engrossed. Lately, I’ve found myself in that camp. I find that my mind wanders and I am left reading unintelligibly. I catch myself and read the same page over until I feel caught up. Thank goodness for audiobooks and for Audible’s Romance Package as together they allow me to find inspiration in books and beautiful stories more readily than I otherwise would. Unfortunately, not all narrators enhance the reading experience. That is what this post is about.
I listened to The Price Guide To The Occult by Lesyle Walton, a story about a reluctant powerful young witch, Nor, who has a bit of a dysfunctional family. I really enjoyed it, but I do not love it and it has everything to do with the narrator, Whitney Dykhouse, and very little to do with the story. Please note that I am not, not a fan of the narrator. Her talent is palpable when it comes to her delivery of side characters. I am not sure why she was asked or chose to deliver Nor’s parts in a subdued melancholic way, but she does and that, to me, was distracting because Nor’s voice makes up most of the story. If I concentrate hard enough on the words, I love the story. It is atmospheric and engrossing – but only when I concentrate hard enough on the words and that is unfortunate because one should complement or enhance the other. I ultimately rated this book 4/5 stars taking off one star due to the narration because I cannot separate the two.
While Whitney’s performance was a bit subdued Jim Dale’s performance can be a bit too colorful.
Jim Dale is a wonderful narrator. His performances tend to be colorful, charming and addicting, however, sometimes I find his delivery distracting. This is especially true when I am listening to a story for the first time. The amount of flourish that he inserts in his performance detracts from a story. That was my experience of his reading of Peter Pan. I ended up choosing a different narrator and coming back to listen to his performance just for fun. It was so much better for me this way.
Narrators that get it just right.
I will not shy away from listening to more books narrated by Whitney as I’m anxious to find new talent to follow given that I tend to gravitate to my handful of favorite narrators – Xe Sands, Kate Rudd, Fiona Hardingham, Jennifer Ikeda, Davina Porter, and (my queen) Katherine Kellgren. These women are incredible! They have made me fall in love with stories I knew nothing about previously – and that is amazing!
What do they get right that others don’t? They brighten up stories they perform without distraction. It is as if the characters come alive and you sort of forget that someone else is carrying you along. That is why memoirs narrated by the author are consistently perfect and enjoyable.
Who are some of your favorite narrators?