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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Our Indie Audiobook Picks

By Cameron Phillips and Rose Cook  

Independent books are the bedrock of the industry in many ways. It is so important that up-and-coming writers and designers are given their fair share when it comes to exposure, acclaim and, perhaps the most essential thing in the current climate, the ability to maintain a living doing what they love and what they are good at. There are so many fantastic writers out there whose work is going unnoticed, so this week, we are going to tell you about our favourite picks for independently released audiobooks. These include titles published independently by authors, who have sourced voice talent, or by independent publishing houses.

Independently released audiobooks are perhaps even more impressive and worthy of attention given the extra considerations that must be taken into creating them, such as finding a narrator or even a cast to voice characters. This is why we’re delighted to bring you our picks below.

The Cradle series, written by Will Wight and narrated by Travis Baldree

Fantasy is an incredibly difficult genre to get right, mainly due to the absolute giants of literature that have generally established and mastered the genre’s tropes and prose. It is difficult to read fantasy without thinking that parts of it are derived from past writers or that things are unoriginal or bland. I have fairly high expectations of any new fantasy work that I read or listen to, but I was utterly blown away by Will Wight’s Cradle series.

To begin with, Wight’s worldbuilding and magic system are extremely well done, the latter clearly being influenced by Eastern manga, which, for me, was a nice surprise. Fantasy is always enhanced when Eastern and Western literature sources are combined. The first two books in the series, Unsouled and Soulsmith, slowly introduce Wight’s world, which is masterfully executed. It is deliberate but light on exposition, which is vital in the genre. They are surprisingly brief audiobooks, but the brevity does not lessen how brilliant Wight’s prose is.  

Travis Baldree’s narration elevates the work to new heights. He voices a range of characters to a masterful extent, and whether it’s Lindon, Little Blue or Akura, Baldree injects so much life into the text, vividly painting the canvas that Wight has dictated. Wight’s prose and Baldree’s narration are made for each other, and for any fantasy lovers who are looking for something familiar yet new, this is the series for you.  

Cradle has been highlighted because of its unique achievements as an independently released fantasy series. It has an incredible reputation amongst readers, and it is not often an indie fantasy release gets as much traction as this one has. As previously mentioned, fantasy is hard to get right without sounding derivative, but this really is a shining light in the sea of humdrum that fantasy can be despite being an indie release.   

Pond, written and narrated by Claire-Louise Bennett

The blue and white covers of Fitzcarraldo Editions are instantly recognisable on bookshop shelves for many readers. The independent publisher, which specialises in contemporary fiction, has begun to explore audio content, curating a small selection of audiobooks from its list. 

In Pond, an unnamed woman tells the story of her life of solitude, living on the edge of a coastal town. Across a series of short stories, held together by a narrative thread, we learn about the woman’s relationship with her surroundings, which grows increasingly perplexing.

The audiobook helps the reader to get into the mind of the narrator, weaving between moments of fiction, poetry and stream of consciousness. Bennett’s narration indicates her intent for the narrative, allowing us as listeners to hear the story exactly as she intended it to be told.

Pond is joined in Fitzcarraldo’s audiobook offerings by other fiction titles, including Dorothy Tse’s Owlish and Vanessa Onwuemezi’s Dark Neighbourhood, and non-fiction, such as Sheila Heti’s Alphabetical Diaries.

Persephone Books

Founded in 1999, Persephone Books, which is an independent publisher based in Bath, reprints work by (mostly) women writers from the late 19ᵗʰ and early 20ᵗʰ centuries. Their classic grey covers and patterned endpapers have created a distinctive visual identity.

Persephone have selected six of their most notable titles to begin their audiobook offerings. From Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple, a fifties novel about a love triangle, to The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a 1901 social commentary on late-Victorian marriage, Persephone’s audiobooks offer insights into the variation within their publications. 

Several well-known voices narrate Persephone’s audiobooks: Frances McDormand reads Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson and Miriam Margolyes voices Julia Strachey’s Cheerful Weather for the Wedding. For a taste of Persephone’s extensive literary selection, their audiobooks are the perfect place to start.



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