Story Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 11 hours, 8 minutes
Those of you who follow my reviews likely know that I am obsessed with Lily Morton’s writing. Deal Maker is tied for my favorite of her books (along with Oz) and listening to it again reminded me just how much I adore this story. Asa is pretty much all the fantasy boyfriend material anyone could want — gorgeous and full of life, kind and gentle, funny and joyous. The dreamiest dream that was ever dreamed. And I total adore Jude, who is spirited and witty, but also intelligent, loyal, and deeply caring. The book combines such wonderful humor and fun, with all the banter I totally love, and pairs it with such incredible warmth and tenderness. This is one of those books that gives me a book hangover every time; I get so emotionally involved it just transports me into book wonderland.
Regular readers also know I am a huge fan of Joel Leslie’s narration, so this book is pretty much a match made in heaven for me. In fact… full disclosure here. When I first read this book, I immediately messaged Leslie upon finishing it and told him that the book would be perfect for him and that he needed to narrate it. He then spoke with Morton and an audiobook baby was born! So yes, I sort of feel like the proud matchmaker here for putting them two of them together (and yes, I am totally taking all the credit despite not having any part in actually creating any of it, lol). So, given that, I am going to share my feelings here, but not give an official audio rating, as clearly I am not a fully unbiased reviewer on this one.
I absolutely adored the audio version of Deal Maker. Leslie really inhabited Jude and Asa so perfectly for me and their personalities came shining through. There is a large cast of side characters that all felt well done, and Gabe and Dylan’s voices carried over nicely from Rule Breaker. There are a variety of accents here and, while my untrained ear can’t attest to accuracy, I could easily recognize that people were from different regions as they spoke. There were a few times when it sounded to me like Jude’s accent drifted a bit, but overall, I found the voices really nicely developed and great matches to all the characters. Asa’s young son, Billy, is also done well. While he may not sound totally childlike (and I wouldn’t expect any adult narrator to be able to be able to exactly recreate a child’s voice), his voice is clearly different from the adult characters. Billy’s voice has just the right tone of playfulness, occasional stubbornness, and liveliness that embodies his character.
As with many of Morton’s stories, much of this book is about timing and tone and pacing. Getting all those pieces just right is a key part of the narration and Leslie really does a wonderful job with all three. I felt that same crackle of energy while listening that I did while reading the book, and this audio is everything I could have wanted to accompany this wonderful story.