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Publisher's Summary

Philip and Margaret Waverton and their friend Roger Penderel are driving through the mountains of Wales when a torrential downpour washes away the road and forces them to seek shelter for the night. They take refuge in an ancient, crumbling mansion inhabited by the strange and sinister Femm family and their brutish servant Morgan. Determined to make the best of the circumstances, the benighted travelers drink, talk, and play games to pass the time while the storm rages outside. But as the night progresses and tensions rise, dangerous and unexpected secrets emerge. On the house's top floor are two locked doors; behind one of them lies the mysterious, unseen Sir Roderick Femm, and behind the other lurks an unspeakable terror. Which is more deadly: the apocalyptic storm outside the house or the unknown horrors that await within? And will any of them survive the night?  

Benighted (1927), a classic 'old dark house' novel of psychological terror, was the second novel by J. B. Priestley (1894-1984), better known for his classics The Good Companions (1929), Angel Pavement (1930), and Bright Day (1946). The basis for James Whale's 1932 film The Old Dark House, Benighted returns for the first time in 50 years.

©1927, 1955, 2018 The Estate of J. B. Priestley (P)2018 Valancourt Books, LLC

What listeners say about Benighted

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this more

The opening is excellent. Love the snappy pacing of the first couple chapters and all the details of early motoring. There’s also a very effective—almost cinematic--use of light and dark throughout the book. Also the introduction of the looming butler who lurches was delightful! There are straight lines that can be drawn between this and the Addams Family. And then Addams apparently drew and animated the title sequence for the remake of The Old Dark House in the 60’s.

Priestley again delivers a parable exploring the collapse of the British gentry with a dash of the rise of the lower and middle classes (with the lower classes making the greatest sacrifices.)

Now, mood happens and happens well. But there is a lack of events – there’s a synopsis of what actually happened in Chapter 14 that sucks all the tension out by showing how thin the menace actually was. There’s an awful lot of page-count spent on philosophy and shopgirl romance, none of which contribute to the tension and cause the middle to drag. Also, Chapter 14 was a decision – portraying the climax from the perspective of the two girls locked up in a separate room for their own good might be forgivable in a film, but I am struggling to find a good reason in a book. Also their handwringing made me desiring a feminist take on this whole chapter and the decisions that were made. The saggy middle knocked off a star for me, and Chapter 14 knocked off another. Chapter 15 was the unsatisfying denouement and conclusion.

While the book is –for the most part -- a nicely crafted gothic, I have to give the edge to the film. The movie adaptation does an excellent job of portraying all the character development in the book, while keeping the pacing snappy and tension high. Quite an accomplishment to do everything effective in a more compact space.

2 people found this helpful

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Great period piece

Enjoyed The Old Dark House movie based on this. The novel gives a deeper look into the people.

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Take a second take

The guy reading fumbles on a few words and needs to learn some pacing. some of it was read well, some parts he went too fast on or too slow on. He should've taken a few extra takes on the read.

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A Great Book Ruined by the Wrong Narrator

There are so many different characters, and so much dialogue, and the narrator uses the same voice for them all. He has turned a great story into boring dross.

Didn’t the J.B. Priestley estate listen to a sample chapter before settling on this narrator? He has a nice voice, but not for fiction. I can imagine him doing the Mr. Kipling ads on television, but for this he’s hopeless.

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  • Ms J Stevenson
  • 05-27-18

Disappointing

Whilst the story was reasonably worth listening to, the narrator was terrible. He read as though he had never seen the text before and constantly stumbled over words. He made no attempt to distinguish the different voices of the characters - except for one frail & elderly man - so it was difficult to know who was talking. I managed to stay with it to the end but was very disappointed.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Presto
  • 01-30-20

Great listen

I love the way this is written. Reminded me of Alan Bennett in a way. The narrator is a bit hesitant at times but it adds to the vagueness of it all.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dr Caterpillar
  • 03-05-20

I should have heeded the other reviews

I really wanted to listen to this but the narrator is terrible. Other reviewers mentioned this but I thought, hey, it's probably not that bad.
Spoiler: It is that bad.
Remember at school when the teacher asked pupils to read, and there was that one who stumbled over words longer than one letter? Well here he is!
The story sounded interesting and fun, but I had to give up before the end of the second chapter.
I've given the Story a rating of 3 because I can't leave it blank and I don't know how good it is because I gave up, but 3 is neutral.

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  • Thomas Wright
  • 11-09-19

Great little eerie story

This is an ideal story for Halloween or any time you want to get chills what i didn't like was the passing mention of antisemitism which really had no effect on the story but it is a product of the time it was written it is wrong it is in the book but historically accurate to the way people thought back then and is important to not forget it so we don't repeat it in modern day