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Who are your favorite narrators and why? What do you look for in a narrator? Have a preference between male or female narrators?

It is no secret that narrators can make or break an audiobook. Their performance – and it definitely is a performance – can enhance the innate tension and drama as well as highlight the emotions swirling around the narrative. Then again, they can take the emotion and tension and hide it so thoroughly a listener never stands a chance in discovering it. Similarly, an audiobook performance is an intensely personal experience. The narrators are speaking to the listener, and to the listener alone. Their words are being intimately whispered into a listener’s ear. If it is not the right fit, the experience goes from very private and close to pure torture.

I want narrators that enhance the narrative, that add the right amount of inflection, reflect the ongoing emotions of a character, and are doing more than just reading the words on a page. Good narrators are involved with the story in a way that a reader cannot, and they bring the story to life that is akin to seeing the story on stage. They paint pictures with their interpretation of the author’s words. Narrators who do this are narrators to whom I will flock over and over again.

That does not mean I enjoy every one of their performances. It does mean that I am more likely to choose an unknown or untested audiobook they narrate because they are narrating. I let the story decide the perfect narrator. I love Grover Gardner but his performance on Before Versailles left me disconcerted because his voice just did not fit a young and vibrant French court. Simon Vance’s voice is absolutely gorgeous and beyond sexy, but I found his voice too soothing for the slow progression of A Secret Kept.

So, who do I enjoy whispering sweet words into my ears? James Marsters will probably top that list. His performances reading Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series are absolutely perfect, in my opinion. He is the embodiment of Harry, and I will not enjoy the series any other way than by listening to it. Amanda Ronconi narrating the Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper also tops my list. Again, she nails the main character and makes this fun series even more enjoyable. Grover Gardner, Simon Vance, Scott Brick, and Davinia Porter are all masters of narration, but I also like discovering hitherto relatively unknown narrators, like Amanda Ronconi, Susan Bennett, and even Isabella Sciorra. The relatively unknown narrators provide some of the best, most-surprising performances, and at the end of the day, a narrator’s performance, is all that truly matters when it comes to audiobook enjoyment.

Do you agree or disagree? Who are some of your go-to narrators? Who do I need to check out ASAP?

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