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Publisher's Summary

Like a car alarm, bagpipe music, or a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night, hearing this all-new audio edition of The Bad Beginning will only upset you. This unique multi-voice recording brings the first book in Lemony Snicket's alarming A Series of Unfortunate Events to such terrible life that no one should really have to experience it. Unless you have an ear for such ghastly details as a tragic fire, a nefarious villain, itchy clothing, and cold porridge for breakfast, all narrated in chilly detail by the distinguished, and disturbed, Tim Curry with a team of talented readers, you would be better off listening to something else.
Don't miss the rest of A Series of Unfortunate Events or Audible's exclusive interview with Lemony Snicket!
©1999 Lemony Snicket; (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

Audie Award Finalist, Children's Titles for Ages 8+, 2005
Grammy Award Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album for Children, 2005
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Children's Literature, 2001
"Tension-producing orchestral music, scene-setting sound effects, and most of all, Tim Curry's chocolate-voiced narration captivate the listener in this multicast production of the Lemony Snicket that started it all.... It's all good fun for listening children and their parents." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Marsha
  • Baltimore, MD, USA
  • 03-03-05

Be mindful of the age of your listener

I, as an adult, found it interesting. My seven year old son found the bad things that happen to the children disturbing. He especially had problems with the baby being bound and gaged and hung out a window. I am told in book #2 the same baby is threatend with having her toe cut off? An age recommendation would be nice.

36 of 53 people found this review helpful

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Tries to fix what wasn't broken

There are two versions of 'The Bad Beginning'. The first was done in its entirety by Tim Curry. The second, which is the only version available on Audible, retains Curry's narration but replaces the dialogue with different actors as well as adding sound effects throughout. This was a mistake.

Tim Curry was a perfect narrator in the original book. There are some audiobooks that benefit from full-cast recordings but this is not one of them. Much of Curry's charm is lost in the omission. I might have forgiven this if they had kept Curry's Count Olaf; his performance as the sinister villain is in my opinion the definitive take on the character (it's a shame he was never able to portray the Count in live-action). Unfortunately, not only was Olaf 'recast' but whoever replaced him was not nearly as good.

In addition I found the sound effects are unnecessary. If they had done it sparingly it might have been a nice addition but they are frequently used and become distracting. When I'm listening to an audiobook I don't need to hear a wailing baby in the background.

Unfortunately, as stated before, the original recording is not available to purchase on Audible but if you are able to seek it out you should definitely listen to it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Meh - the tone is off. The TV show does it better

Should have a Wes Anderson cell to it but this is too almost, English, Oliver Twist toned.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good book, poor reading of it

The full cast thing is obnoxious, especially during scenes when there is a baby crying the whole time. But the book is good. Would not recommend this audio book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story, but a terrible production

I really love this story; however, there was far, far too much background noise and voices that were supposed to enhance the experience. It had just the opposite effect and was very distracting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lilian
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 11-24-11

The multi-voice recording is a pleasant surprise,

but it is unfortunate that the other books are not available in this format.
I wish they would...
I really love this series!!!
It is very morbid, but is very funny at the same time.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • jb11
  • michigan
  • 03-29-06

Wow! What fun!

What a refreshing listen! Engaging and interesting, the characters really came to life for me through the full cast and sound effects. Though it is a sad, depressing tale, it is also very humorous. I would definitely suggest this book if you are looking for an escape from your day. I can guarantee you'll feel better about your own life situations after this one!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nigel
  • Sandy, N/A, United Kingdom
  • 03-11-05

Not my cup of tea

The quality of the recording is excellent, second to none. I can't see me downloading any more though, as I really didn't like the book. If anyone hasn't come accross it, (as I hadn't), this is a VERY depressing tome. Snicket cleverly paints a beautiful picture of childhood idyl, and then smashes it into a million pieces in one sentence, genuinely shocking the reader. Following on from that, things go from bad to worse for the primary characters, and I found myself feeling very down after listening to it. I shan't say any more as I don't want to give away the ending but be aware this is not a happy ending read.

22 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • michelle
  • san tan, AZ, United States
  • 10-10-13

I just don't find child abuse entertaining

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Just yuck, the book, and all the events in it totally creeped me out. However my 11 year old son loves these books

What about Tim Curry and Full Cast ’s performance did you like?

Tim Curry is spectacular, I didn't love the full cast method in this instance, I think it would have been better with just Tim. Count Olaf actually had a very nice soothing voice, which I thought was miscast, I would have preferred for him to sound much more treacherous!

Do you think The Bad Beginning, A Multi-Voice Recording needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

If you wanna know what happens to these poor kids...

Any additional comments?

I know this is an incredibly popular book series, I just don't understand why... I love listening to children's books with my 9 & 11 year old, but I can't think of one moment I enjoyed in this book. Disgusted by the evil adults in it, and frustrated by the others that refuse to listen to the children.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


Tim Curry! Lemony Snicket!
This is as good as it gets!

28 of 47 people found this review helpful