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Publisher's 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 listeners say about The Conception of Terror: Tales Inspired by M. R. James - Volume 1

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • danielle wolf
  • 2019-08-07

Background noise definitely irritating

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

53 people found this helpful

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  • Wicked
  • 2019-08-19

Meh

It was ok. It gave me something to listen too while I worked but I definitely didn't look forward to turning it on or anything.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Kaitlin Hatman
  • 2019-08-02

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.

113 people found this helpful

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  • acowger
  • 2019-08-23

Not for me

I could finish it. Shoot, I couldn’t even get through any of the stories. Not a fan of the acted narrative... I’d rather a reader just read rather than have a cast and a script. I found this book to be rather painful in all aspects. It wasn’t just the narration, in my opinion the stories weren’t good.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amy Johnson
  • 2019-08-03

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.

66 people found this helpful

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  • Steffen Gehrs
  • 2019-08-28

Just boring

Listened to the first two stories and couldn't bare to continue. No suspense whatsoever. Just a waste of time.
Trust the bad ratings

16 people found this helpful

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  • Stoic Alchemist
  • 2019-08-30

Horrible audio experience

This type of recordings seem not at all what’s needed for an audiobook experience, badly mixed, no narrative, it seems like a good movie was just recorded and slapped an “audiobook” tag

9 people found this helpful

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  • Robert
  • 2019-03-21

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!

57 people found this helpful

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  • LZ
  • 2020-06-08

Quick, Entertaining & Creepy!

Thanks to the actors, the tales vividly come to life. You don’t realize how quickly your heart is pounding or time is passing as they unravel. Be prepared for the creepy solutions, or worse, the feeling of an unsatisfactory ending. Not the kind where you are upset at the story, but the kind where maybe good doesn’t win by everything being tied up into a nice little bow. If you are a fan of Thriller (both versions from the 60s & 70s), The Hitchhiker, Twilight Zone, or Alfred Hitchcock, I believe you will enjoy these!! I certainly did!!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Montzalee Wittmann
  • 2019-11-30

4 creepy stories

The Conception of Terror takes inspired by M.R. James volume 1 with a great cast of and narrating the four stories. I thought the first story was the best and creepiest. The narration was very good.

3 people found this helpful