I first encountered Fiona Hardingham’s outstanding narration when I was serving on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults in 2014. The book was ACID, by Emma Pass, published by Listening Library and read by Fiona Hardingham, Nicholas Guy Smith, and Suzan Crowley. This is definitely a book that should be listened to, at all costs! Not only are there lots of audio extras (realistic news reports, sound effects, etc.), but Hardingham is completely in sync with the main character, perfectly channeling her determination and strength. All right, I know that ACID is way out of the eligibility period for this year’s Odyssey Award, so I’ll leave it there. I just wanted to explain what an impact this talented narrator had on me. Just think, four years laters, and it’s still fresh in my mind!
Since then, I have listened to so many wonderful audiobooks narrated by Fiona Hardingham. She never lets me down, and I know that I’m in for a treat when I start listening to one of her audios. Here are some of my favorites:
- The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, by Megan Shepherd, read by Fiona Hardingham. 4 hrs, 58 min. Listening Library, 2016.
- An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. 15 hrs, 22 min. Listening Library, 2015.
- A Torch Against the Night, by Sabaa Tahir, read by Katherine McEwan, Steven West, and Fiona Hardingham. 15 hrs, 9 min. Listening Library, 2016.
- The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. 12 hrs, 6 min. Scholastic Audio, 2011.
- The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman, read by Fiona Hardingham. 14 hrs, 59 min. Brilliance Audio, 2016.
Hardingham has published a lot of great audiobooks that are eligible for this year’s Odyssey Award, too. Many, many thanks go to Audiofile Magazine for providing the review copy and the opportunity to listen. I first reviewed these for Audiofile, but I couldn’t resist spending a little more time with them here.
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book VI: The Long-Lost Home, by Maryrose Wood, read by Fiona Hardingham. 10 hrs, 6 min. HarperAudio, 2018.
I was a little nervous about listening to this audiobook, which tells the story of governess Penelope Lumley and her desperate attempts to reunite with the Incorrigible children and save them from certain danger. It’s the final book in the series, the first five of which were narrated by the talented Katy Kellgren, who passed away after an extended illness earlier this year. Katy Kellgren’s passing hit the audiobook community hard, both because she was a truly lovely person, but also because she was so amazingly talented. The first books in the Incorrigibles series were much lauded, with good reason. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for Hardingham to take on the sixth and final book in the series, trying to honor Kellgren’s work while also giving Wood’s book the attention that it deserves.
Happily, I can say with conviction that this last book in the Incorrigibles series is absolutely masterful. Hardingham brings forth the fun, excitement, and charm of the book and carries the action forward with impeccable timing. Her characterizations are outstanding, including a staggering array of accents and character voices and delightfully drawn personalities–chilling villains, distracted fathers, and ridiculous ladies of leisure. Beleaguered governess Penelope Lumley is especially good, a plucky yet sensible girl who will do anything to reunite with her beloved Incorrigibles. I especially appreciated Hardingham’s comedic timing, which made Wood’s witty repartee and over-the-top puns so much fun.
Furyborn, by Claire Legrand, read by Fiona Hardingham. 17 hrs, 24 min. Listening Library, 2018.
Furyborn is a thrilling new fantasy title which tells the story of Rielle and Eliana, both remarkable women who are faced with deadly trials and have the power to save the world or bring forth its destruction. Rielle and Eliana’s stories take place a thousand years apart in different continents, but as listeners will discover, they are connected across space and time. Hardingham’s portrayal of these young women strikes exactly the right note, precisely conveying their single-minded intensity. Hardingham is skilled at this type of portrayal, capturing strong determination while allowing vulnerability to show through. Additionally, her pacing is superb, ramping up tension as the story hurtles towards a breathtaking and surprising climax. I am really excited to see what comes next!
The Continent, by Keira Drake, read by Fiona Hardingham. 10 hrs, 43 min. Harlequin Audio, 2018.
The Continent combines romance, adventure, and fantasy in a thrilling combination that will leave listeners wanting more. In this new series, we learn of a land that has been divided by bitter war and prejudice. The Continent, where warfare reigns supreme, has been left to its own devices, to the point where privileged nobles from the Spire see it as a zoo of sorts, a place to view from the safety of their sheltered planes. Vaela Sun, a sheltered sixteen-year-old from the Spire, encounters disaster while sightseeing high above the Continent, setting in a motion a heart-pounding story of rescue and war, with more than a little romance. Hardingham’s expert characterizations are once again on full display, including jowly old men, implacable bullies, and menacing warriors. A crisp, nuanced narration that is immensely satisfying and rich.