07 May 2012

Sound Recommendations: Fantasy & Paranormal Series

This month I take an otherworldly approach to audiobooks. Whether you're already a fan of paranormal and fantasy or are looking for a gateway into the genre, take a look at these series, all of which translate well to audio. I have spent many an hour walking through my neighborhood in the company of witches, werewolves, dragons, and vampires. Here are five recommended series to download to your mp3 player.

Fantasy for the Young and Old

Angie Sage's Septimus Heap books are perfect for a family listen. Although geared to middle grade readers, there is plenty to keep older kids and parents engaged. Septimus (as his name implies) is the seventh son of a seventh son who was separated from his family at birth. In the first book, Magyk, the boy is re-united with his parents and siblings and is stunned to discover he has the potential to become a powerful wizard. The books follow Septimus's journey to self-discovery and magic. Septimus's world is filled with fun characters and creatures, and his story isn't too scary for your primary school kids. At present there are six books in the series, and the seventh is due out in winter 2013. Magyk is read by Allan Corduner, who does a brilliant job with this family fantasy. The rest of the books are read by Gerard Doyle, who takes a different approach but still holds your attention.

George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire books are most definitely for adults. Although there are indeed dragons and fantastical creatures in the books, Martin's world is one in which the very human quest for power and the struggle to stay alive are front and center. Starting with A Game of Thrones, listeners are transported to a medieval-like realm of spies and assassins, noblemen and peasants. As the uneasy peace is disturbed, the fragile alliances among the kingdoms are shattered, and the ultimate fight for the throne is set in motion. No one in the Seven Kingdoms can be trusted, no matter how friendly they seem seem on first meeting. There are currently five books in the series, with the sixth book due out later this year. The complex, violent, sexy, and utterly addictive series is read by Roy Dotrice, who is outstanding.

Strange Creature
s Hot and Cold

The Mercedes (Mercy) Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is urban fantasy set in the Pacific Northwest. Half Native American, Mercy is a shape shifter who was raised in a community of werewolves. In the first book, Moon Called, Mercy is the sole owner and mechanic at an auto shop and counts vampires and gremlins among her clients and friends. When a young werewolf stumbles into her shop, Mercy is thrown into the middle of wolf and vampire politics. The series focuses on Mercy's discovery of her background and her place in an alternative world in which humans know about paranormal beings. Currently there are six books in the series, and the seventh is due out next year. There are a number of spin-off books in this fun series, so be prepared to get ensnared. The books are read by the wonderful Lorelei King, who brings the characters and action to life.

MaryJance Davidson's Undead/Queen Betsy series stars Betsy Taylor, who died on her thirtieth birthday . . . well kind of. In the first book, Undead and Unwed, Betsy's first thought upon realizing that she has arisen from death, is that her evil stepmother has decided to bury her in plastic shoes and an ugly outfit. Betsy's undead adventures include a delightful mix of zany, romance, and mystery as she and her BFFs figure out how to cope with the world of vampires and the prophecy that predicts Betsy's royal standing. Thanks to a rich girlfriend, a hot but annoying suitor, and a devil of a half-sister, there's never a dull moment in Betsy's world. There are currently ten books in the series, with the next one due out in June. This funny, sexy, and fashion-conscious series is read by Nancy Wu, whose pacing and inflections capture the true Betsy.

One of the newest paranormal series is Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy, starring Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire. The series is set in a modern world in which three types creatures (daemons are the other beings) live semi-secretly among humans. Although Diana's very powerful witch family lives in the United States, her academic research takes her to England and her love life takes her Matthew's home in France. The first book, A Discovery of Witches, sets up the story by delving into Diana's and Matthew's histories and introducing us to a mysterious book whose discovery stirs up rivalries and friction among the magical creatures. Will Diana and Matthew learn its secrets before the power struggles among the realms get out of hand? The second book is due out in July. Book one is read by Jennifer Ikeda, who handles the accents and different characters with ease.


Daryl 5/7/12, 8:46 AM  

I am waiting impatiently for the next George RR Martin book .. I am not happy with where he left us and I am hoping .. hoping the ending of the last book isnt what it seemed to be ..

Nise' 5/7/12, 10:20 AM  

I agree...the Song of Ice and Fire series audiobooks are addicting! I thought I would read a bit to get farther ahead and could not do it, I had to go back to the audio! I've had my eye on the Mercy Thompson series. Thanks for the recommendations.

Andi 5/7/12, 11:25 AM  

I've definitely been in the mood for series with a paranormal twist lately. Will definitely be jumping on the 2nd All Souls, thoroughly entrenched in Outlander at the moment, and I would love to dig into Ice and Fire soon after.

Carrie K. 5/7/12, 1:54 PM  

I'd love to do a reread of Discovery of Witches via audio before book two comes out!

Jenn's Bookshelves 5/7/12, 2:34 PM  

Great recommendations! I wholeheartedly agree with each and every one of them!

Jenners 5/7/12, 5:08 PM  

The Septimus Heap books sound like a good series for my son and I to read/listen to. He's not quite ready for Harry Potter so this might be a good way to "prep" him. I'm going to start on the Martin books myself very soon.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 5/8/12, 12:59 PM  

Thanks for the recommendations.

Everyone tells me how good those Game of Thrones books are but I still haven't read them. They are so big! I never used to shy away from big books. Audio may well be the answer for me. I have Discovery of Witches in audio already... just need to listen to it. Nice to know it translates well.

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