Stepping up to the microphone, Fiona Hardingham delivers a one-woman narrative tour de force with Twilight Hauntings, the first in Angie Sage’s new fantasy series where magic is outlawed and those who practice it are hunted down.
In the great city of Luma, enchantment is illegal. Those with even a minor talent often find themselves apprehended and imprisoned in the feared dungeons known in hushed tones as “the Vault.” Before one is sent to the Vault, however, one must be named an enchanter.
Betrayed by her foster sister, Alex is pursued by the Sentinels, fearsome agents whose purpose is to apprehend and imprison enchanters. Relying on her outlawed ability, and some help from her foster brother, Alex escapes Luma. But instead of safety, Alex finds herself pursued by the Hauntings, murderous wraiths that hunt Enchanters and, even, their children.
While her situation worsens, Alex becomes determined to discover who she really is and who her parents are. Unfortunately, the only connection to her past is a set of enchanted cards, artifacts that help focus her enchanting, something that proves to be as much a liability as it is an asset.
An acknowledged master of accents, Fiona Hardingham breathes life in Enchanter’s Child, Book 1: Twilight Hauntings, bringing the characters to life with unique personalities. The protagonist Alex sounds very much a street-wise adolescent, insightfully mature beyond her years. Alex’s foster sister, Zerra, is especially unpleasant, a quality owing to Hardingham’s snooty portrayal as much as the way in which she is written. Impressively, the entire cast receives similar treatment from Hardingham, and I found myself marveling at her ability to keep their portrayals all so ridiculously consistent. I even found myself reflecting on my own ability to read to others, hoping that I’m regarded at least half as entertaining as Fiona Hardingham.
Forgive my digression, but Hardingham’s performance also reminds me of playing Dungeons & Dragons with friends. Each of us would lovingly infuse our unique brands of theatricality into the characters, and while I cannot recall the character voices with perfect clarity, Hardingham’s character choices evokes countless hours spent at friends’ houses crowded around a table, rolling dice, and vanquishing one foul villain after another. Instead of a table surrounded by my stalwart comrades-in-arms is a sole adventuress.
Standalone, Angie Sage’s new series is undeniably delightful. With Hardingham behind the microphone, however, the story became absolutely transformative. I was a child again, on the edge of my seat as beloved elders embellished countless stories to the pleasure of my younger self. Great stories became greater, and even arguably lesser pieces of literature would become lovingly remembered and treasured tales. And this is where Fiona Hardingham excels, elevating Enchanter’s Child, Book 1: Twilight Hauntings into something remarkable, a figurative cherry on top.
Enchanter’s Child, Book 1: Twilight Hauntings by Angie Sage, read by Fiona Hardingham. 7 hours, 49 minutes. HarperAudio, 2020.
Andy Myers is an aspiring Librarian toiling his way through the MLIS program at Wayne State University. Andy embraced audiobooks to make lengthy commutes more manageable, but has since fallen in love with this wonderful avenue to enjoying literature. An occasional thespian, Andy understands the power of a great performance and believes that an outstanding narrator can enhance just about any book. @AndyBeau
*A mea culpa is due to Andy who last name we have been misspelling in previous posts.