Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 11 hours
I absolutely fell in love with the Arden St. Ives series when I first picked up the book for review and continued my enjoyment through the second book. I completely adore Arden, love the sense of humor in the stories, and find the dynamic between Arden and Caspian to be fascinating. This is a series that rests squarely on Arden’s shoulders and he is such an incredibly engaging character that I love being drawn into his world. So I was eager for the chance to listen to this one in audio, particularly with Joel Leslie narrating.
I have to say, I think I loved this book even more the second time around. I think it is because listening to it after having read the second book gave me a level of insight I didn’t have the first time around. Alexis Hall packs the story and these characters with so many layers, Caspian in particular. There are a little moments, little asides, that take on new meaning knowing what I do now from the second book. So this was a case where not only did I enjoy revisiting a book I had previously read, but also where experiencing it a second time really enhanced the story for me.
Joel Leslie does a wonderful job with the narration for this book. Arden is the heart of this series and Leslie captures him just perfectly. There is kind of a duality to Arden that I love, and that comes through here nicely. On one hand, he is kind of mess. He can’t quite get his act together in school, he’s the type to trip over nothing — right in front of the guy he wants to impress, and he seems to be just hanging on a lot of the time. But Arden has a sense of joy to him, an ability to take pleasure in all the little things. And there is a steadiness to Arden, a sense of something solid amidst the fluff. He is a strong presence for Caspian, can handle much more than it appears, and has a sense of goodness in him, all things that really make him such a fascinating character. I love the layers that Hall has given to Arden and Leslie really portrays them so well. From the humor, to the craziness, to the hidden depth, it all really comes through nicely in the narration. I think at times Caspian could have been a bit sharper, just with a touch more ice to really capture his more intense moments. But overall, I think Leslie does a fabulous job with Caspian and Arden, particularly considering they really carry the book.
Overall I really found this one a delight to hear in audio. Revisiting the story was just wonderful and really enhanced my overall experience with the book and series. And Leslie’s narration is just top notch. I can highly recommend this audiobook to both fans of the series and folks interested in trying it for the first time.