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Publisher's Summary

Stephen Smith is the boy who did not exist. Born out of wedlock in the early 1960s, Steve's parents - both devout Catholics - had felt so 'shamed' by their son's illegitimate birth that they hid him away from the world by locking him in the cellar...for 13 years. Apart from a few admissions to hospital as a result of his 'imprisonment', Steve remained in the coal cellar of the family home where he was deprived of daylight, his childhood, school and human contact until he'd reached his teenage years. 

Starved and beaten, the little boy's world was a darkened room that measured just 8 feet by 10 with a single makeshift bed, a bare light bulb and a solitary table. Steve would spend his days conjuring up an imaginary world full of monsters he would draw to try to block out the physical and mental torture inflicted on him by his brutal father. Locked away like an animal with a bucket to urinate and defecate in, the only human contact he received was from his father, who'd regularly beat him with a shovel and whip him with a belt.

Eventually, he escaped only to fall prey to the instigators of two of the worst cases of institutional abuse in the UK at Aston Hall hospital and St. William's Catholic School.

A horrifying true story of torture and cruelty that reveals a human's full capacity to fight for survival and search out happiness and hope.

©2019 Stephen Smith (P)2019 Bonnier Books UK

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What listeners say about The Boy in the Cellar

Average Customer Ratings
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At first I thought this was horror fiction

I really found the story hard to accept. It made no sense to me that anyone could be this heartless. And the story later becomes even more bizarre. Finally I just listened and hoped the disbelief would subside. I gave the book 5 stars because I finally realised this story needs to be heard. Stephen my heart was wrenched from me several times and my anger against the system and injustice of it felt like a flame. The catholics and catholic schools destroyed so many childten. And the devil keeps looking out for his own. Cardinal Pell has just been released. These perverts will be punished severely, don't doubt that. God loves you. Religion and religious institutions are manmade horrors. Always remember those so called religious trash were not Christians.

27 people found this helpful

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Stephen Smith

Although this is a horrific story and a horrible way for a young boy to spend his entire childhood in a sense. I must say I am so happy that he met Dave whom was able to turn his life into something happy and normal..In a lot of cases like this the unfortunate opposite happens where they become an abuser or they die miserable hooked on drugs or alcohol.
I admire his strength through it all, whether it was his art, later music he always found something positive in the negitive. I couldn't be more relieved and happy at the way it ended for all involved.

21 people found this helpful

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WOW!!

Great book with a horrible and sad story. The narrator is great and easy to follow. This is the type of book you get hooked on and can't put it down (or stop listening to). Definitely a must read!

16 people found this helpful

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A Reader's Comments

To this day I am amazed by how children grow up to live productive lives despite have endured years of child abuse. The story of Stephen Smith will help anyone who experienced child abuse to recover.

14 people found this helpful

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Something happened and the book just fizzled out

Something was seriously lacking in this book. I kept waiting for even one event to be explained from start to finish. Once he left care the story became highlights of his life in chunks. This book wasn't for me.

11 people found this helpful

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great book, horrible story

This book was hard to listen to, especially at first as the details are incompressibly deranged. With that said, it is written very well. It is a very good book but be ready to hear about humanity at it's worst.

11 people found this helpful

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Excellent abuse survival memoir

This is an excellent abuse survival memoir. Very gripping I could not put this one down.

9 people found this helpful

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Heart wrenching but so inspirational

What an amazing writer and narrator! The book had me on the edge of my seat with tears the entire time! It truly makes you wonder how there can be so many evil people in this world. It is so wonderful that he had the courage to write it! That is awesome. Strongly encourage others to read this survivor’s story.

7 people found this helpful

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Almost Sent This Back; Glad I Didn’t

After listening to two chapters, I decided to send it back to Audible because I had a hard time listening to what was done to this child. I’m glad now I didn’t. While it is gut wrenching to listen to, it has a positive ending and, for the most part, justice was done. It made me realize we need to be observant to what goes on in the world. Unfortunately for Stephen Smith, that didn’t happen.

5 people found this helpful

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A must listen

this story was so hard to listen to but I was in tears of how happy I was for Steven and how his life turned out. a must listen for sure!!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Catherine Gladwyn
  • 01-15-20

Flipping heck

Harrowing, but absolutely needed to be told and listened to. You may well cry listening to this and struggle to remember it's NOT fiction.

Narrator is superb.

20 people found this helpful

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  • roseena wild
  • 06-19-20

Highly recommended ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is one of the most shocking books of abuse I have ever read, but with the most amazing recovery and triumphant survival of any human being that had been subjected to such abuse could even begin to hope for... Stephen I am truly in awe of you.. what a remarkable Surviver , fantastically inspiring book , thankyou for sharing your horror of the first part of your life so honestly , and your strength to overcome and achieve the wonderful life you have today 😘 . Highly recommended Book ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

14 people found this helpful

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  • Helen N.
  • 06-28-20

Tragedy Overcome

It's a difficult listen and one I had to keep reminding myself was a true story. Ultimately, this is a story of triumph in spite of the countless adults who let vulnerable youngsters down i n the worst way.
I felt horrified, angry, furious and despairing, followed by surprise, happiness, contentmemt and even pride for Stephen for becoming the best person he can be. I wish him every joy in life. He deserves it.

9 people found this helpful

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  • angie
  • 04-12-20

Unbelievable True Story

How anyone can/could survive this is beyond belief, a fantastic told true story you will not want to put down, shocking, sad & you could say disturbing to the feint hearted. Brilliantly told, read book.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-16-20

A heart wrenching story !

narrated very well ..this is a must listen!! ..it's vile what this boy went through sickening to the core but come out one hell of a fighter 💪

8 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-31-20

Truly shocking

I can't believe that someone can be treated like this throughout life and still be so positive and happy in the end. Truly shocking to listen to but puts your own life in to perspective!!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Miesha tate
  • 07-04-20

Heartbreaking story, Happy Ending

Knowing this was a true story made it difficult to listen at some points but I really admire Stephen's ability to survive many horrific situations and then to write a book to share his painful story with the world in hopes of helping others has me admiring this man so much! Great read.

5 people found this helpful

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  • A. Listener
  • 02-09-21

A fascinating / disturbing read.

This was both a fascinating, and a disturbing read. What makes it all the more remarkable is the fact that it's a true story.
I think one of the most prevalent thoughts I had after listening to this, is the twisted sort of logic that goes on in some religious communities like the one Stephen's parents were from. That having a child out of wedlock was a terrible, unspeakable thing, but "raising" a child in a cellar, with violence and neglect, is somehow acceptable to these same people.

And I got to say, it brought a smile to my face when Stephen was having his first experience of music, and he was loving some of the same bands I grew up listening to and loving.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Josh Hill
  • 06-16-20

Truly unbelievable

Really really enjoyed this book. Had me totally captivated from start to finish. Narrator was excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa Hessey
  • 05-06-20

brilliant

sad but shows that the strength of this man is mindblowing he's a real inspiration to me and being from Derbyshire myself wish I could meet this man..thanks Lisa hessey

2 people found this helpful

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  • shirley K.
  • 08-03-21

A real superhero

This is the most moving honest book I’ve ever finished. Even though at times, the brutal honesty made me feel sick to my stomach, cringe, cry and smile, I cannot begin to understand how he lived through the absolute disgusting way he was treated by parents, family, and people who we are supposed to trust. And once again religion has disrespected, discarded and violated! Stephan Smith is my absolute super hero. An amazing human being.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-06-20

unbelievable

strongly recommend.
couldn't stop listening.
sending love to Stephen
What courage and how humble
Excellent

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-30-22

I couldn't stop listening

Loved everything about it, I was spellbound from the first to the last word God bless Steven and all of us that have suffered such cruelty

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-23-22

Great Book

I enjoyed this book! It was read very well also.. Listening to what Stephen went through was extremely eye opening and tragic! It made me sad and angry that a child had to endure such horror! Thank you so much to Stephen Smith for sharing your story I truly appreciate you! I definitely hug my son tighter and make sure he knows how much he is loved and adored as no child should ever have to feel any less then that!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-19-22

heart breaking yet so good

kept me wanting to no it was such a sad story his bravery was exceptional brilliantly told

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-18-22

essential reading

every social worker and student social worker should read this.
My heart goes out to young Stephen, but soars with him now.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-12-22

Fantastically sad and horrific

the horrific start to life that you had is terrifying. So good to hear you have found a happiness you deserve!!

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  • Ben
  • 03-24-22

One of the most powerful reads of my life.

Read it. A story that needed to be told and needs to be heard by one seriously strong mofo.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-24-22

Courage & Human Spirit Abound

This story will leave you reeling. Not only from the horrific circumstances that this poor baby experienced but from the unwillingness of authority figures to stop it. I can only wish Stephen Smith peace and serenity for his coming years. Thank you for sharing your life in such a raw and truthful way.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-21-22

heartbreaking horror but beautifully told

I could not stop listening, Narrator does a great job too. I am left speechless.