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The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James - Volume 1

An Audible Original Drama
Length: 4 hrs and 13 mins
4 out of 5 stars (5,118 ratings)

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Our favorite moments from The Conception of Terror

  • The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James - Volume 1
  • "A half-bright fool"
  • The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James - Volume 1
  • A terrifying message
  • The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James - Volume 1
  • Ben meets Stephanie.

"I was seriously scared. What a great story and so well done. A good story
beats a horror movie any day."

CP, Audible Listener
.

About the Performer

Alice Lowe is an actress, writer, and director who focuses mainly on comedy. She is known for her roles on British television as Dr. Haynes in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch and Madeleine Wool/Liz Asher in Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Alice wrote, directed, and acted in the 2016 movie Prevenge and starred in and co-wrote the 2012 film Sightseers. She was also featured in the educational children's television series Horrible Histories. Her television appearances include The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd, and Sherlock. Additionally, Alice has had roles in well-known British films such as Hot Fuzz, Kill List, The World’s End, and Paddington.

About the Performer

Pearl Mackie is a British actress, dancer, and singer best known for playing Bill Potts in the long-running British television series Doctor Who. Mackie grew up in London, graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and landed one of her first roles in the film Svengali. Mackie also acted in the political satire Obama-ology at the Finborough Theatre in London and appeared on stage in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The Birthday Party, The Crucible, and The Helen Project. Mackie is a premier audio narrator, including her appearance on the Audible title The Last Namsara.

About the Performer

Anna Maxwell Martin is an actress who has starred in a range of television roles such as DCS Patricia Carmichael on Line of Duty, N in Poppy Shakespeare, and Wendy in Mother’s Day for BBC. She is also known for her roles in Motherland, The Bletchley Circle, and much more. She has also starred on stage in productions such as Consent, Macbeth, and Cabaret.

About the Performer

Reece Shearsmith is a multi-talented English actor, writer, and comedian, and one of the four co-creators, writers, and actors of the award-winning British sketch show The League of Gentlemen. He has appeared in a variety of TV shows and films, including the independent hit Shaun of the Dead. He also co-created, co-wrote, and starred in the dark British comedy series Psychoville and writes for and stars in the British anthology series Inside No. 9. In The League of Gentlemen, Psychoville, and Inside No. 9, Shearsmith memorably portrays multiple characters. He is from Hull, England, and is a graduate of Bretton Hall Drama College.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Unfortunately Awkward

These stories are unfortunately mediocre. At best, they're interesting enough to grab my attention for a few moments, and at worst they're cringingly uncomfortable - and not in a scary way. There are long, awkward pauses wherein nothing is happening and the listener is left to imagine what the characters might be experiencing. The only issue with this is that these silences are often filled with uncomfortable heavy breathing and panting (and in one notably unsettling instance, squelching), which I imagine is meant to convey the terror of the situation, but is ultimately just.... awkward. It's also widespread enough throughout the stories that I feel confident it was a directional choice more-so than the acting (which was pretty decent).

For me, the most enjoyable story was the first - but not until the second half. The antagonist and main male character have a bizarre antagonistic chemistry which - while entertaining - didn't feel very emotionally appropriate within the context of the story. Even so, it was engaging and at times even funny.

Ultimately, skirting the edge of heavy topics without actually delving into the depths of them, coupled with some awkward voice acting direction, and easily predictable stories with non-memorable characters, made this a somewhat disappointing listen. I do think that it's worth listening to if you're a fan of the genre, or if you're just bored at work and need something to listen to. Just don't expect highly engaging horror stories out of it.

71 of 81 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Unexpected

Frankly I have learned to not expect very much from the Audible original selection. Every once in a while a selection is offered that shatters all of my expectations by being...good.
The Conception of Terror offers readers (well I guess in our case it would be listeners) four tales that are both original and genuinely creepy.

35 of 40 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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Background noise definitely irritating

Enjoyed the stories overall. The background noise, heavy breathing/sex sounds and long pointless pauses were the biggest downside.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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I did not like the style of the narration

To be fair I couldn't even get into the story because of the narration. Not for me.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 03-21-19

Excellent Modern Retellings of M.R.James Classics

I heard about this audiobook online and thought I'd give it a go. The fact that it was retellings of M.R.James tales with a modern setting AND an audio drama intrigued me. The production is top-notch - all of the sound effects really add to the telling of the stories, and the narration is fantastic! The way the stories were transposed to the modern era was done well, just keep in mind that these are stories inspired by the originals so there will be differences between the two. They chose some of the best M.R. James tales to redo, with Casting the Runes and The Treasure of Abbot Thomas standing out as the most well done. I'm looking forward to the next volume in the series!

39 of 48 people found this review helpful

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MORE LIKE THIS

these were so well written, well executed, and exactly what I look for in horror/thriller shorts

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Disappointing

The production value was good, but the performances relied too heavily on sound effects rather than good writing. It was hard to follow each story due to the lack of narration or explanation of what was happening. it was like listening to scary movie from another room.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • cp
  • 02-07-19

scary

I have only listened to the first story (Casting the Runes) and I was seriously scared. Creeped out. What a great story and so well done to make me feel that way. A good story beats a horror movie any day.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Dreadful but not in a good way

stories trite. Not suspenseful. too much mood music. too much background noise. I'm normally a positive upbeat person but this was really bad.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Disappointment.. could have been great

I'm a huge fan of M.R. James, and curious about all the various interpretations of his ghost stories.
This began in a terrific fashiion but soon spiraled downward: the elegant points of plot/mystery that are
key to M.R. James gifts became minimized by the horrible electronic sound effects and the 'over the top'
emoting of the actors. These particular actors are wonderful but were misused in an attempt to ramp up
the horror factor. Sorry.. if someone listened who didn't know the M. R. James canon, perhaps they'd find this
entertaining.. but the methodology betrays James' 'slow climb' into terror...

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Chris Halliday
  • Chris Halliday
  • 02-10-19

Brilliant modern ghost stories

Being an M.R. James fan, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy these reimagined classic tales. When I saw they were a Bafflegab production, any concerns evaporated. These are masterful modern ghost stories, told as full-cast audio dramas. Everything from the performances to the sound design is spot on. I’m very glad I didn’t listen to these in the dark.

Roll on Volume 2!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Declan Grundy
  • Declan Grundy
  • 02-13-19

Must buy.

I was driving through the the night into the early hours of the morning when I pressed play for the first time on this audio book. The music, the voice acting, the story - turned my world upside down, the lone car on the motorway steadily creeping up behind me didn't look or feel so innocent. Genuine fear took me and yet, left me wanting more. 10/10 recommend.

I hope and really want them to make a volume 2.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Matthew Brown
  • Matthew Brown
  • 02-15-19

Good chilling ghost stories with a fresh coat of paint.

I bagged this collection of dramas on something of a whim, not realising that it was largely adapted from the original stories rather than inspired by them.

When I realised my error, being a bit of a traditionalist and very fond of the originals I confess I sucked in my breath and expected the worst. What a treat it was to discover that each adaptation was a faithful but smartly updated version of each story. Great acting, faithful but fresh versions of the originals in all cases but the last even if Lost Hearts was perhaps a trifle over ripe at the end and ‘A view from a hill’ was radically altered’.

Highly recommended for fans of the classic ghost story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Devon reader
  • Devon reader
  • 04-11-19

A fine tribute to the great man

I’ve loved the M.R.James ghost stories for many years, and have collected all I can in various formats. I think the master would thoroughly approve of these tales and performances. They are genuinely scary , in his understated style. I was a little disappointed by the ending of “Lost Hearts”, but otherwise I enjoyed these a lot, and will definitely buy any future volumes when they appear.
Wonderful.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for s
  • s
  • 04-11-19

Get a wiggle on - I want to hear more

Really enjoyed these stories with their revised take on the classics. Some were better than others and most of the actors were fantastic. None were dissapointing. I keep searching the new releases for the next collection. Come on Audible, get a wiggle on, you're on to something good here.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • petecknight
  • 02-19-19

Too short

This book was so fantastic the only problem with it was it didn’t go on long enough. More please!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • stephenkingfan
  • 03-14-19

Dubious about reimagining MR James but it worked

As an MR James fan I wondered whether I would like these "inspired by" tales but I really did. Well cast actors made a difference and some of the narrative changes were cleverly conceived and executed. However, enough of MR James' wonderfully creepy touch remains at the heart of these dramatisations to ensure moments of real, chilling terror. Especially if you listen to them on your own in bed and in the dark like I did!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin Boone
  • 03-12-19

Surprisingly good

Attempts to adapt MR James' writings for radio have not always been a success. So I had only modest expectations for this recording. As it turns out, it was way better than I expected. The last story -- A View from a Hill -- is decidedly creepy, and very well performed; but all four stories are pretty good.

As ever, the excellent production and engineering of the studio has been brutally mangled by Audible's ghastly compressed audio format. So nothing from Audible can ever rate full marks in my opinion. This one would get full marks, except that I care about sound quality.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Babs
  • 02-24-19

A brilliant new take on the old classics

A delight for any M.R. James fan. The stories are twisted in new forms, but the atmosphere of the originals remains as unsettling. Well done! I cannot wait for Volume 2.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-21-19

Modern day MR James

an excellent MR James adaptation, BUY IT!! You will not be disappointed. Brings these excellent works into modern lives.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful