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Publisher's Summary

Josef Fritzl was a 73-year-old retired engineer in Austria. He seemed to be living a normal life with his wife, Rosemarie, and their family - though one daughter, Elisabeth, had decades earlier been "lost" to a religious cult. Throughout the years, three of Elisabeth's children mysteriously appeared on the Fritzls' doorstep; Josef and Rosemarie raised them as their own. But only Josef knew the truth about Elisabeth's disappearance....

For 27 years, Josef had imprisoned and molested Elisabeth in his man-made basement dungeon, complete with soundproof paneling and code-protected electric locks. There, she would eventually give birth to a total of seven of Josef's children. One died in infancy, and the other three were raised alongside Elisabeth, never to see the light of day.

Then, in 2008, one of Elisabeth's children became seriously ill and was taken to the hospital. It was the first time the 19-year-old girl had ever gone outside - and soon, the truth about her background, her family's captivity, and Josef's unspeakable crimes would come to light.

©2009 John Glatt (P)2013 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Story

One of the most riveting and disturbing books ever

The story this book tells is truly "stranger than fiction." If it was a novel, you'd say it was too absurd to be true. But amazingly, and shockingly, it is.

From the very beginning, the story is well-paced and well-written. It contains enough details to send chills down your spine that such a sick, twisted man could ever exist. You will wonder how his victimized daughter ever survived and kept her sanity through numerous unthinkable acts: raped 3,000 times by her father, help captive for 24 YEARS, living in a dungeon that is only 5' 6" tall with no windows...it's truly unthinkable.

I listened to this book during my commute, and i was anxious to get into my car every day (how often does that happen to you?). In addition to the story being unbelievable, the narrator is perhaps the best i've ever heard. His voice is made for this kind of thing. It is truly one of the best books i've ever listened to.

My only word of caution: be prepared to be amazed, horrified, disgusted, and baffled.

You'll want to hug your children after you listen to this.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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I was hooked. A great listen.

Any additional comments?

I know its a good book when I scour the web looking for anything I can about the main characters. This father was a sociopath of the worst kind. I think the author was too easy on the wife but I do live in a different part of the world and have had many things that women did not. Still, how could she let him do all those things to the kids while they were growing up? And the main character, she must really be something to have survived that. I send her and her family all of my prayers and well wishes.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A Fact Filled Account of a Chilling Crime

I REALLY enjoyed this book. The author fills your mind with facts and details and the narrator dictates them to you in a clear, engaging manner of speaking. The subject matter, while horrifically grotesque is in a morbid way, quite interesting. By the end of the book, your heart will go out to the victims of this terrible crime.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua
  • Waterloo, IL, United States
  • 10-04-13

crazy and disturbing

What did you love best about Secrets in the Cellar?

Im a big believer that non fiction is better than fiction and unfortunately this story makes that statement true. Its a horrible true thriller for anyone wanting to read it

What did you like best about this story?

the way the author and narrator made you feel like you were right there.

What about Gildart Jackson’s performance did you like?

awesome narrator!!!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I would never want to make a film of this book, Way to disturbing

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Susan
  • PUNTA GORDA, FL, United States
  • 08-01-13

The Most Chilling Book I have ever Read

Would you consider the audio edition of Secrets in the Cellar to be better than the print version?

I only do Audible books so I wouldn't know BUT I can't imigane it getting any better!

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The fact that this is true and that a young lady's life was stolen for 24 years is beyond belief and to watch your own children suffer and not be able to stop it. My heart goes out to this woman....

What does Gildart Jackson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He allows you to truly feel the pain that this family went through, I couldn't wait to hear what happened. Nicely done!!

If you could give Secrets in the Cellar a new subtitle, what would it be?

How can one Human do this to another?

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Awesome book

I'm still digesting it all. It was an unbelievable case! I highly recommend this book!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Subject is horrible, story is well told

I love true stories, which is how I found this book. I don't remember ever hearing about this story in the news, but it sounds like it was a nationwide story.. It is a terrible subject, absolutely horrible what this woman and her children went through, but it is very well written, giving the listener a very clear idea of what is going on. I actually don't like knowing things like this even go on in our world, and after the first part of the book, I had decided I didn't want this horror in my mind, but after a few days, I had to listen to more to make sure Elizabeth survived.. She did/does survive, but the horrors her father put her through are unimaginable..

At the end of the book, a psychiatrist explains why he thinks this man did what he did. He isn't justifying it, just giving a psychiatric evaluation. I think that part is fascinating.. A lot of people would, and I'm sure do, just refer to his man's actions as being evil, but saying someone is evil is not a real explanation of why people do the things they do.. Everything has a reason, a cause, something turns something in a persons head to make them do the such horrific things..

Would I recommend this book to others? No, I wouldn't... It is very well written, but like I said, the subject matter is horrible...But if you don't mind this kind of thing being in your mind, and you enjoy true stories, then you will like this one.. I can't say anyone would enjoy this book.. Who would enjoy knowing this went on? But it is very well told...If I had heard about this story in the news years ago, and knew what it was about, I probably would not have purchased it..

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Sickening

What did you love best about Secrets in the Cellar?

The actual story is horrible - the fact the father could do this to his own daughter is unreal. How she survived I have no idea.

What did you like best about this story?

That she survived - she had strength in her far deeper than most the people on this earth. A mothers love can do amazing things.

Have you listened to any of Gildart Jackson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Not saying do not want to give any parts away

Any additional comments?

Be ready to be mortified.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • Fairport, NY United States
  • 01-20-14

Incredible

What made the experience of listening to Secrets in the Cellar the most enjoyable?

Filled with facts.

What other book might you compare Secrets in the Cellar to and why?

My Story by Elizabeth Smart<br/><br/>Both tales of survival against the odds.

Any additional comments?

Sometimes the repetition can be a little annoying, but I believe the author had the best of intentions. He paints a very clear picture of the events leading up to Elizabeth's capture, the horrors of her life in the cellar, as well as what happened after her eventual freedom.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • beverly
  • sturgeon lake, MN, United States
  • 01-14-14

in your face that crazy people do crazy things

What made the experience of listening to Secrets in the Cellar the most enjoyable?

it held my attention threw the whole thig

Who was your favorite character and why?

the daughter

Which character – as performed by Gildart Jackson – was your favorite?

daughter

If you could give Secrets in the Cellar a new subtitle, what would it be?

crazy is not just a word

Any additional comments?

unbelievable that one man can have a standing in the town and all that money and be the sickest ticket in town and no one knew<br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • s.millin
  • 07-20-15

loved this book

What made the experience of listening to Secrets in the Cellar the most enjoyable?

Just loved this book, she explained every detail of what she did and felt.<br/>How brave she is, to go through what she did, giving birth on her own, with no help from a doctor, and then coping with her children, and the life she was forced to endure.<br/><br/>How brilliantly she wrote this, so inspiring.

Who was your favorite character and why?

the main character.

What about Gildart Jackson’s performance did you like?

All of it, no faults at all.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

it made me cry, in several places.<br/>Not much joy in this book.

Any additional comments?

you will want to listen to this all in one go. Beware serious time needed. You cant stop.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • 03-31-15

Factual and dry, but an amazingly disturbing story

I recommend this book based on the astonishing and disturbing story alone. It delves into the mind of a truly sadistic and damaged man.

I found the part about Fritzels own up bring the most fascinating as it gives clues as to how a person can do such horrific acts to his own family.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • sara
  • 01-02-15

Fascinating

Interesting yet gruesome, I found the detail behind this real story intriguing, how can some individuals carry out such horrors defies me.

At first I found the narration stilted, as though some sort of auto-tune is used which makes it on the monotone side.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • marie
  • 12-12-14

interesting book

Narration was not great but the story was interesting, I would recommend this book, shocking you know it's true

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Sally Howes
  • 05-24-15

Secrets in the cellar

It's an uncomfortable book due to the subject matter. However it's well written and well narrated. A shocking story but worth a listen if you are interested in true crime.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Reebies
  • 02-03-17

Totally harrowing

Finally. An informative, true and complete account of the somewhat incomprehensible story that lay beneath the ground, confined within the walls of that infamous cellar. Secrets in the cellar fills in the gaps that were left by the media since uncovering the truth behind Fritzl's 'secret family'
The story not only offers a brutal blow by blow account of Fritzl's depraved crimes but gives an entire timeline of events, witness testimony and full access to the back story, life and psyche of the Austrian man behind it all.
The book gives readers the opportunity to see behind the headlines and learn of the true nightmare that was Elizabet Fritzl's life and what followed.
A good read and well narrated. However, at times the narrator uses local accents, perhaps in an attempt to further dramatise and give more credence to the story. I felt this was unnecessary and at times, a fraction over done.
If you're a fan of true crime or merely seeking the truth behind the Fritzl story, this book should be on your wish list.

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  • Daniel
  • 10-11-16

too gruesome

don't usually mind some dark subject matter, this was way too much. disgraceful behaviour

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  • Mrs F.
  • 06-29-16

Griping & brilliantly read! English voice

First ever audio book and totally loved it. Was 3/4 way through within days.
Authors voice was great to listen to.
Such an interesting story, I've told many people about it already.

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  • sofia
  • 10-23-15

A Further Injustice to Elizabeth Frizl.

What disappointed you about Secrets in the Cellar?

I will try to be short and to the point. It is obviously a tragic thing what happened to Elizabeth and her children. I am interested in her story - I admire her strength, as I am sure many others do. It would have been moving and far more interesting to hear how she overcame what was clearly a living hell.<br/><br/>That is the story I wish this book told. <br/><br/>I don't believe this book did Elizabeth Fritzl justice. The story focused on Josef Fritzl. His childhood, his mind, blah blah blah. I actually found it rather frustrating that the focus was on him. 'Secrets in the Cellar' is a narrative into a disgusting human's mind. If that is what interests you, then you will actually thoroughly enjoy this book.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Gildart Jackson?

Many people seemed to enjoy the narrator Gildart Jackson - I found his 'accents' and overall performance rather intolerable. I almost didn't finish the book because I found the narrator so difficult to listen to.

Any additional comments?

After reading only really positive reviews, I was convinced that this would be a great book.<br/>I can appreciate that the high expectation may be why I didn't enjoy it. However, I listen to many books in this genre, and I simply did not enjoy this book at all.