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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
4.5 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)
Regular price: £19.99
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Summary

A collection of four ghostly tales inspired by M. R. James.

Casting the Runes - adapted by Stephen Gallagher

When academic Jo Harrington (Anna Maxwell Martin) is sent a paper - The Truth of Alchemy, by Anton Karswell - for peer review, she pulls no punches. It has no place in a serious academic publication, and Karswell is a half-bright fool. However, when the editor writes a rejection note to Karswell, he inadvertently includes her entire email. Occultist Karswell (Reece Shearsmith) doesn’t take kindly to criticism.   

On the tube home with her partner Edward Dunning (Tom Burke), Jo spots a poster with her name on it. It reads: 'In memory of Joanne Harrington, M.Litt, PhD, died September eighteenth, three days were allowed.' Is there anything that Edward can do to save Jo from this curse? 

Lost Hearts - adapted by A. K. Benedict

Teenager Stephanie Elliot (Rosa Coduri) is taken to Aswarby House to be fostered by Mrs Bunch (Susan Jameson). Stephanie strikes up a friendship with Ben (Bill Milner), the adopted son of charismatic community leader Mr Abney (Jeff Rawle). He tells her that Mr Abney is a good man: he even took in a child refugee last year, but she ran away and stole from him. Stephanie is troubled by voices and visions of a dead girl clutching at her chest, and when Ben disappears she begins to suspect that all is not right in Aswarby House.

The Treasure of Abbot-Thomas - adapted by Jonathan Barnes

When former Somerton school pupil Greg Parsbury (Robert Bathurst) meets history teacher Mika Chantry (Pearl Mackie) at a memorial service for schoolmaster Sam Abbot-Thomas, he begs for her help. He has been sent a postcard by the estate of the mysterious and charismatic Abbot-Thomas. On it is a strange inscription in Latin, which he believes to be an inaugural clue in a treasure hunt: much like the elaborate treasure hunts Abbot-Thomas used to set back in the 1970s. There were rumours that Abbot-Thomas possessed a hidden fortune, and Parsbury and Chantry set out to find it.

A View from a Hill - adapted by Mark Morris

Comedian and podcaster Paul Fanshawe (Andy Nyman) and his wife, Sarah (Alice Lowe), visit the Cotswolds on holiday, trying to rebuild their lives after the death of their young son, Archie. Whilst out walking they spot a beautiful abbey across the valley on Gallows Hill, but when they reach it, they find the building is little more than rubble. While Sarah explores, Paul records commentary for his podcast. Sarah thinks she hears children’s laughter, but there’s no-one there. Later that night she listens back to the recording and hears a child’s voice whisper, 'Mummy.' Sarah is convinced that Archie is trying to reach them and wants to return to the ruins. But something far worse is waiting for them on Gallows Hill.

Public Domain (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

What members say

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

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!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Too short

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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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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!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Babs
  • Netherlands
  • 24-02-19

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.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Modern day MR James

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

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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PC Brigade Infect M R James.

I've been a massive fan of M R James for years now but unfortunately this isn't something I can say I enjoyed. The production people have tried to bring his classic stories into the modern day but have turned it into a lefty, PC pantomime. Some of the ideas are good but fall short of the original source material. Voice actors were ok but a little dull and unenthusiastic.
Disappointed.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • legeon
  • United Kingdom
  • 09-03-19

the concept of terror

I have been looking forward to this release ever since I heard the BBC drama series over Christmas. I've been wanting to compare the two as the BBC was very stuck to its founding material this release was something warm and coasy with an added pep in its step. the drawing out of each story to 1 hour I feel gives the writers chance to draw us the listeners into the fear scape created by the sfx. whoever said its lefty rubbish really needs to get a life tbh as the modern twists I feel brought it home. as if rather than being an oldy timy ghost story the events could be happening to anyone of us. ghost stories have been brought kicking back into life into the 21st centuary and this listener really hopes we get more. hell this company does wonders with horror so maybe something spooktacular is just around the corner.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Robert
  • 21-03-19

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!

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  • cp
  • 07-02-19

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.