Staff Pick: An Ember in the Ashes

My name is Brittany Vincent, and I have a confession to make.  I’ve never listened to an audiobook. Shocking, right?!  But this is exactly why joining the audiobooks team and experiencing this medium for the first time has been so fun!  There are plenty of other audiobook newbies joining the ranks every day, myself now included.  So what did this lifelong book nerd choose for her first listen?

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir was one of my favorite new releases in YA this year.   It’s the type of book that once you start, you just can’t put down.  The audiobook version is no different.  Narrated by acclaimed duo Fiona Hardingham and Steve West, the characters in Tahir’s novel truly take on a life of their own.

The way Hardingham and West capture not only the voices of the main characters, Laia and Elias, but that of the other secondary characters adds a new level of drama to an already action-packed read.  Hardingham as Laia finds the right balance of fear and desperation, with an underlying thread of steel, as she pushes forward in her struggle to infiltrate the Empire’s most dangerous military academy.  I also loved the rough transformation of her voice as she portrayed Cook, an older, disfigured slave woman who’d spent years suffering at the hands of others.

Elias is an outwardly strong, fierce character but, like Laia, has his own secret desire to escape the Empire’s brutal hold over his life.  West’s vocal fluctuation from dutiful soldier to plotting deserter is spot on as he switches between the dual identities.  Another highlight is the way West captures the powerful yet mysterious persona of the Augurs, Empire holy men with strange abilities.  His low, slithery tone actually gave me chills while listening.

My favorite time to listen was at the end of the day.  The dramatic lull of the narrators’ voices was both relaxing and exciting as I was pulled further into the story and farther away from my mundane routines.  The best part:  I was reading while still being productive.  Score one for audiobooks! Whether you’ve already read the book or want to add it to your reading pile, the audiobook of An Ember in the Ashes is a must hear and my ultimate summer pick.

[product isbn=”9781101890752″]Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told. [/product]


Also, check out what author Sabaa Tahir had to say about hearing her audiobook for the first time!