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Editor reviews

‘My name is Simon. I'm 10 years old. I'm a serial killer.’ Thus begins the brilliant The Child, an audio drama from Audible Studios. In this audiobook, German author Sebastian Fitzek paints a chilling portrait. Defence attorney Robert Stern is persuaded by his old flame, nurse Carina, to take on the case of a young, terminally ill boy who claims to recall past-life experiences of murdering several men. Following Simon’s instructions, Robert and Carina are shocked to uncover several dead bodies around the shady areas of Berlin, and soon detective Engler has Robert in his sights as a suspect. With voice performances by Rupert Penry-Jones, Emilia Fox, Robert Glenister and the brilliant Andy Serkis, The Child is an astonishing drama.

Summary

Shortlisted for the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2015

My name is Simon. I’m 10 years old. I’m a serial killer. Robert Stern (Rupert Penry-Jones), a successful defense attorney, doesn’t know what lies in store for him when he agrees to meet a new client in a derelict estate on the outskirts of Berlin. Stern is more than surprised, when his old love interest and professional nurse Carina (Emilia Fox) presents him a ten year old boy as his new client: Simon (Jack Boulter), a terminally ill child, who is convinced he has murdered many men in a previous life.

Robert’s surprise turns into horror when he and Carina find human remains in a cellar the boy has led them to. The remains of a man whose head has been split with an axe 15 years ago - just like Simon claimed he had. Things go from bad to worse within hours when Stern discovers more dead bodies, the investigating police officer Engler (Andy Serkis) starts to chase him as a suspect in the murder cases, and his own past comes to haunt him. Stern’s friend and former criminal Andi Borchert (Stephen Marcus) is the only one to believe Stern and Carina. Hunted by the police, and led by Simon’s memories, they start to investigate shady sub cultures of Berlin, and soon discover things that are more gruesome than anything they could have imagined…

Audible Studios London presents a gripping audio dramatisation by Sebastian Fitzek, Germany’s most successful thriller writer, whose books are read around the world in more than 20 different languages. This unabridged dramatisation introduces listeners to a completely new approach to audio entertainment, a full-length dramatised book adaption with an original score and soundscapes from the heart of Berlin. Featuring amazing performances by a cast of over 20 actors in a breathtaking plot, The Child provides a truly immersive listening experience.

Like this and looking for more unabridged multicast drama from Sebastian Fitzek? Then simply type ‘Amok’ in the search box, download and enjoy!

©2014 Audible Studios (P)2014 Audible Studios

Critic reviews

"The Child is an unmissable milestone for fans and newcomers to audio dramas alike. A compelling, star-studded drama that mixes narration, performance, music and soundscapes into a moving story about a troubled young boy and a shocking series of dark crimes in Berlin. Essential listening," (David Hewson, author of The Killing series, co-author Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel and Macbeth: A Novel.)
"Fitzek’s thrillers are breathtaking and full of wild twists. The only disappointment : there is, inevitably, an end to the story!" (Harlan Coben)
"Action-packed and edgy, The Child is a dark and immersive listening journey." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • jo
  • Manchester, UK
  • 14-08-14

Like watching a great thriller on TV...

This is such an obvious concept, it is surely is only the cost of getting big names and sound effects people involved which makes a fully dramatised book so rare. It really is just like watching a cracking drama on TV, so if you really want straight narration, you'd better steer clear. If you want something which you feel like you've actually seen because it paints a picture so vivid, you'll like it.

It is in truth not as exciting a plot as some others I've enjoyed such as The Woodcutter, but there was plenty of interest to keep me completely gripped right from the opening scene. Rupert Penry-Jones and Andy Serkis are particularly excellent - they're acting, not narrating. Meanwhile there is a narrator: Robert Glenister, who is fantastic. I wasn't so keen on the child who understandably wasn't up to the standard of the others (he's fine, it's just that he sounds like a child who's acting rather than enabling the belief that he IS the character he is portraying).

On the whole it's a very enjoyable listen. I listened to it all the same day, which is a first for me.

22 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Chilling, Difficult in places, but damn good!

I'd definitely recommend this. The additional dimensions added by the multiple actors and sound effects make this a very engrossing format. All of the actors were very good in their roles and the narration was top notch.

The story strays into some difficult areas, there is violence and it descends into the world of the paedophile although it steers clear of going too far. The plot builds well and the very chilling "Voice" works very well.

I think some people might find the ending just a little weak but I liked it well enough. I will look out for more of these "radio plays" from Audible in the future.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic - loved it!!

What made the experience of listening to The Child the most enjoyable?

I got totally engrossed in this audio drama. Trying to find something similar now. Having all the different actors made it such a brilliant listening book.

What did you like best about this story?

The whole story is brilliant and loved it all. Kept you engrossed all the way.

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favourite?

Stern by Rupert Penry-Jones was fantastic

Any additional comments?

A def must listen to drama - need to bring out more like this!!

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

highly recommended

If you could sum up The Child in three words, what would they be?

gripping and scary

What did you like best about this story?

The story was gripping but some of the content, without giving a spoiler, the pedophile scenes were very uncomfortable. It followed one disaster after another and maybe wasn't entirely believable at times and the end was a bit weak but that didn't stop me enjoying it.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Robert Glenister as the narrator was excellent. As I really like dramatisations this was an a perfect choice for me, most audible dramas are about an hour long but this was like having a good film in my ears.I can put myself in the situation, the little unobtrusive sounds effects added to the drama.

Any additional comments?

More dramatised books please

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Proper edge of the seat stuff

Would you consider the audio edition of The Child to be better than the print version?

Difficult to say. However this audio version with multiple actors is a new approach that worked wonderfully well.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Andy. You weren't sure whether his character was genuine or embedded in the darker side of Berlin's ugly under belly. I like that in a character, leaves you guessing.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

When reading I have to put a picture in my mind of what the actor looks like. If a book then translates to film or TV and the actor chosen is nothing like what you imagined from the book, that can spoil it for me. In this audio version, Andy Serkis for example, his voice fitted perfectly with his character.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. You need breaks, adds to the tension and fills out the laborious car journey home from work each day of the week

Any additional comments?

There were elements in this story which were very uncomfortable to listen too, and for the main character to be caught up in it (albeit for very good reasons) you felt his unease, fear, disgust and anger. Like I said at the top, edge of the seat stuff all the way, even if on occasion it causes periods of unease and you long for it too end and justice to prevail

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • S
  • 19-08-14

Couldn't stop listening

If you could sum up The Child in three words, what would they be?

worth listening to

What did you like best about this story?

The acting, read like a play, and all actors were believable, it had a beginning, middle and end,

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

I love Robert Glenester reading books, he narrates seamlessly, moving the story along.
Keeping the interest going

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

This is the my first audible which was read as a play, with sound effects etc,I could have been in a theatre.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • wixey
  • Warwickshire, England
  • 12-08-14

Excellent!!

Any additional comments?

I bought this because I love anything performed by Robert Glenister and/or Rupert Penry-Jones and I was not disappointed. The story grips you right from the start and keeps you interested all the way through. The special effects and music all add to the visualisation and Robert Glenister narrates to his usual high standards. Please can we have more dramatisations Audible.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Eh?

Plus:
Strong cast acting their socks off against impossible odds.
Antis:
Really complicated and unbelievable plot, where time and time again the key protagonists find themselves in impossible positions only to be miraculously rescued. Rather more detail than this reader needed on child exploitation and abuse.
Clunky production - weirdly slow at times - editing odd?
And just a couple of small-parts who were utterly rubbish and stood out like a sore thumb.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A delightful adiobook

What did you like most about The Child?

The narrotors and sound effects

Who was your favorite character and why?

The lawyer
I am a mother and his pain for losing his child is every parent pain and fear.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The brought life and acting to the story

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

yes, the story is very vivid

Any additional comments?

My father did radio acting performance in his youth. Sometimes he would tell stories about their acting and sound making.
This book just brought those stories back and I really enjoyed so much listening to this story. Just like when we listen tv and do dinner at the same time.
I was so sorry when I finished and just wished I could find more audiobooks like this.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding, genre-busting thriller. Not for kids.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Unpredictable, engrossing tale with many twists and turns. Cleverly written. The different voices and background effects make the story come alive. My lengthy car journeys flew by. You need to get through the first hour before the story really takes off. Don't be put off by the bad review. You cannot judge a book of this calibre by the first hour, before the plot starts to unfold. Beautiful language offsets the unmistakeable horror.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Stern, the lawyer. A very likeable character, particularly with the voice of smooth-talking Rupert Penry-Jones (also from Silk, I thought I recognised his voice!). His conversations with the child remind me of 'The Little Prince' by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, when a grown up talks to a mysterious child that is wise beyond his years.

What does the narrators bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

This audiobook considerably enriches the experience because there are several voices and sounds as well as haunting music. It enhances the thriller effect.

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

I don't want to give away the story.

Any additional comments?

One particular voice has undergone heavy technical effects. Unfortunately the sound system in my car made that voice hard to understand and some words became unintelligible, but the rest is so good that I put up with it. That was the only reason why I removed one star.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • @MrBookChief
  • 12-10-14

My favourite listening experience to date

Where does The Child rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It reminded me very much of HBO's True Detective and was a very different listening experience to other audiobooks. It felt more akin to a good film and I thoroughly enjoyed each listening session that I had with it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Child?

The Voice

Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

Robert Stern

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

It opened my eyes to child trafficking

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Knitterati
  • 02-10-14

Sound Editing Subpar

Would you try another book from Sebastian Fitzek and/or the narrators?

No.

What was most disappointing about Sebastian Fitzek’s story?

Promising start. Around the middle the wheels came off.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of the narrators?

The narrators were fine. I like the concept of using a group of narrators. It reminded me of a radio drama, in a good way.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Child?

The pedophile scene was gratuitous and disturbing. I would have cut pretty much everything from the midpoint and asked for a different ending.

Any additional comments?

This recording can be salvaged to some degree by remixing the sound. Often the spoken word was obscured by what was supposed to be the background noise. The opening scene was a prime example--the rain was so disproportionately loud, they may have just as well been standing next to Niagra Falls.

39 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rolando
  • 30-09-14

Disappointing

The story wasn't that great, pretty much unbelievable. I am disappointed at the rave reviews that misled me into thinking that this would be a good experience. The characters were lame, the story was forced and unbelievable, the subject matter is intentionally disturbing. I think that what made this "book" so disappointing is that the producers have such little faith in the audience's imaginations that they decided to take it upon themselves to create the world in their image, and expecting listeners to embrace it. No thank you.

44 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • ofanoa
  • 30-09-14

Auditorily Noxious

Any additional comments?

The creepy voice and sound effects from screechy tires to phlegmy aspirations were intolerable to me (listening by headset). The acting was canned, harkening back to old-time radio dramas. It was an interesting endeavor for audible so I gave an extra star for that.

39 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Nancy E. Rivera
  • 21-03-15

Hands down worst Audible title I've ever bought

What disappointed you about The Child?

Where to begin? This was a ridiculous production. Bad story. Bad writing (translation). Overwrought acting. Laughable sound effects. Bizarre production choices. There's probably a reasonable explanation for this, but why all the Cockney rhyming slang in Berlin? Is that a thing now?

Has The Child turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I love all sorts of genres, including, sometimes, these dramatized productions. This was definitely an exception.

Would you be willing to try another one of the narrators’s performances?

Probably. I don't think this was the fault of any of the narrators.

What character would you cut from The Child?

All of them. Absolutely all of them.

Any additional comments?

Obviously, lots of people like this one, so if you decide to try it out anyway, remember that you can always return books to Audible with no questions asked and get your credit or money back.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anna Chalet
  • 19-02-15

Great Idea --- Bad Execution

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

First of all, I love radio dramas and radio plays. I listen to a lot of BBC Radio 4 so I'm used to the idea of listening in this way. From other reviews I know this style annoyed some people. Although I listen to a lot of drama, this one felt like I was listening to a TV in the next room.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I'd probably listen to anything for Rupert as I have a thing for him, but this audio book sounded like I was eavesdropping on a TV show. I didn't buy into the premise of the story either. I like the character having their own voice but I felt it was distracting at times too - again, it was less of an audio book and more like a TV production - I know I'm over stressing this point but I don't know how else to explain the OVER USE of sound effects, it was annoying.

Was The Child worth the listening time?

Yes, it was. Overall the story was captivating and I really enjoyed the lead up to the middle part. In fact, its only because the lead up was so good that I stayed around to see how it would end.

I felt that it slipped into stupid territory quite quickly after that when the reveal of how this boy is made a serial killer is exposed and by then I feel like the goodwill of the listener had been exhausted. They should have stuck with the supernatural line to give it edge. I feel that dragging us along on the ride for a few crumbs at the end was really an anti climax. All lose ends were tied up but I was left with so many 'what if' possibilities that had been sparked from the initial potential of the book that I felt a bit let down.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cyndy
  • 03-04-15

Good, but distracting sound effects

It was a good book that kept my interest. The performances were also good.

Although, I found the sound effects very distracting.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • A User
  • 12-10-14

Wow I didn't see that coming!

The twist and turns this book has will keep you on the edge of you seat. Good story.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 24-09-14

A Bone Chilling Voice Imbedded in a Unique Story

What made the experience of listening to The Child the most enjoyable?

The music, the Voice and the dramatization. Audible, please provide more just like this one! You have a winner here! :-)

What did you like best about this story?

The Voice...freaky scary

Any additional comments?

This is one of the scariest novels I have listen to, and one of the most enjoyable short audible dramatized books. I cannot count the many times I jumped, startled by the musical score or the voices of the narrators. The premise of the story is simply fascinating, raising questions about reincarnation, regression therapy, insanity, fear and revenge.

Setting: Berlin, Germany. Characters: Ten year old Simon - termally ill, does not want to die before he knows if he killed people in a former life, Rober Stern - defense attorney, Carina - nurse, Andi Borchart - former criminal, Engler - investigating police officer.

There are not many books by Sebastian Fitzek available in English translation, nor as e-books, however, being fluent in German in will read everything this fine author has in print in his native language.

32 of 40 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • burney byrd
  • 24-03-15

Couldn't stop listening !

The blend of the book and movie is great. It kept me on the edge non stop. Great story worth the money

2 of 2 people found this review helpful