Fantasy audiobooks can take us on incredible journeys. Whether we’re following a band of intrepid adventurers as they quest through enchanted forests and treacherous mountains, or immersing ourselves in the intrigues and politics of a magical kingdom, fantasy audiobooks offer endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. From dragons and wizards to faeries and mythical creatures, the worlds we encounter are populated with a vast array of unforgettable characters and creatures that ignite our imaginations and keep us engaged.
With the help of Libro.fm and their community of independent bookstores, I’ve selected nine fantastic fantasy audiobooks worth listening to in 2023. Not familiar with Libro.fm? It’s actually one of my favorite audiobook services because, among other things, it splits its profits with independent bookstores (read my Libro.fm review).
Whether you’re a die-hard fantasy fan or a newcomer to the genre, there’s an audiobook in this collection for you. So, grab your headphones and get ready to embark on an epic adventure!
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi
By Shannon Chakraborty. Read by Lameece Issaq & Amin El Gamal.
“A fantastical pirate adventure on the Indian Ocean, full of magic inspired by Middle Eastern mythology! Amina, once an infamous pirate, is retired. She reluctantly goes on one more quest, facing monsters that threaten to keep her from her daughter. This book offers a refreshing take on fantasy born from Chakraborty’s Middle Eastern inspirations! The novel is also carried by the wonderfully complex character of Amina who illuminates her struggles with colorful commentary as her complex morality and firm loyalty are weighed against her desire to return to her daughter. The audiobook narrators also did a fantastic job of voicing the characters and truly bringing them to life with performances that elevate the dialogue and characterization!” – Justin, Vroman’s Bookstore
A Deadly Education
By Naomi Novik. Read by Anisha Dadia.
“What an amazingly fun book to listen to. I loved El and her snarky attitude. I loved that she had all this power but refused to give in to the dark side to use it. I loved the world building, both the specific details of the school and the mals that haunted it, and the glimpse of the larger world where magic users have to band together to survive. Anisha Dadia does such a fantastic job narrating I couldn’t wait to plug back in.” – Kristine, Buttonwood Books and Toys
Legends & Lattes
By Travis Baldree. Read by the author.
“This is the cozy and heartwarming fantasy novel you didn’t know you needed! It’s a tender story with delightful characters in a snug setting. The kind of tale that Dungeon Masters will feel inspired to have for their next laid-back D&D campaign. So if you are a fan of wholesome, found-family stories do yourself a favor and listen to this book!” – Courtney, Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers
The City We Became
By N. K. Jemisin. Read by Robin Miles.
“I’ve listened to mediocre books made awesome by a talented narrator, but this book is a case of a fantastic story made even more engaging by phenomenal narrator Robin Miles. The story is like Neil Gaiman meets Jeff VanDerMeer as New York City’s boroughs personified seek to save their city (and themselves) from an ancient interdimensional threat. A fantastic read, and an even better listen!” – Caitlin, Brilliant Books Audio
By Stephen King. Read by Seth Numrich & Stephen King.
“This book is for anyone who grew up reading Tolkien (or Stephen King, for that matter) under the covers with a flashlight, for anyone who has longed to turn back time, and, most importantly, for anyone who has ever loved a dog. Fairy Tale has my whole heart. Seth Numrich’s earnest narration and King’s guest appearance makes this a must-listen.” – Felix, Kingfisher Bookstore
By R. F. Kuang. Read by Chris Lew Kum Hoi & Billie Fulford-Brown.
“This is it. This is the magical school story that adults who grew up in the 90s and 00s have been hoping to find: one that incorporates a beautiful, erudite, delightfully post-steampunk world of magic, but that is ultimately about the hopes and the friendships of young people who came from outside the elite class, and whose lives have been shaped by their own intelligence and by the colonialism and capitalism that are ingrained in their magical world. What they decide to do with their gifts rings true, and while it is in some parts painful, it is nuanced, culturally aware, and finally inspiring. R. F. Kuang has confronted the demons of our generation’s stories fearlessly. And Babel has, with wit and passion, driven back a little of the dark.” – Nialle,
The Haunted Bookshop
The House in the Cerulean Sea
By TJ Klune. Read by Daniel Henning.
“The House in the Cerulean Sea is a heart-swelling wave of sweetness and hope. Mild-mannered government caseworker Linus Baker is sent on a secret assignment to an island orphanage he’s never even heard of. The astonishing inhabitants he gets to know there will change his life and make him reassess everything he thought he knew. This book will leave you believing in the good in everyone — even those society has given up on — and contemplating how huge changes have to start somewhere.” – Haley Stocking, Phinney Books
Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries
By Heather Fawcett. Read by Ell Potter & Michael Dodds.
“Meet Emily Wilde, one of the leading experts on the fair folk and faerie world. Emily is a dedicated, introverted professor with an eye and heart for magic, but where she excels at academia, she struggles at people skills. When she travels to the faerie populated town of Ljosland to work on her Encyclopaedia, the last person she expects to find there is her academic (and frustratingly handsome) rival Wendell Bambleby. Charming where Emily is reserved, Wendell begins to help Emily with her research, slowly but surely helping her become friendly with the town’s inhabitants. But as Emily and Wendell work together to uncover the secrets of the fay world, Emily begins to wonder if Wendell’s own mysterious past is something worth exploring. With a dark faerie world and a charming-yet-frustrating love interest, Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is cozy academia fantasy with a historical settling that is perfect for readers of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Howl’s Moving Castle!” – Kelly, Mysterious Galaxy Books
The Starless Sea
By Erin Morgenstern. Read by Dominic Hoffman, with a full cast.
“Rarely is a book such an absolute feast—for the senses, for the intellect, and, above all, for the soul. Morgenstern dazzles in her latest novel, an intricately wrought tale populated by lovers, mystery, and sumptuous magic. The Starless Sea is an ode to book lovers everywhere, reanimating the excitement as well as the pure possibility felt when reading books like Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings for the first time. I am reminded of the famous C.S. Lewis quote, ‘One day, you’ll be old enough to read fairytales again.’ When that day comes, The Starless Sea will be waiting for you.” – Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore
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