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Reviewed By: StevoReview Date: 4/21/12 4:16 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

In print, Edgar Allan Poe was never one of my favourite authors; his style of writing could be tough to wade through at times. However, this Textbook Stuff releases of five Poe stories on audio - all of which are presented in unabridged form with narration by David Soul - are extremely enjoyable to listen to. Each tale is a superb reading from end to end. If you like Edgar Allan Poe, do take some time to seek out this excellent reading of some of his best tales...
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
NR
Acting Rating:
NR
Replay Rating:
NR
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NR
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Reviewed By: StevoReview Date: 4/12/12 1:18 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This first release of the Textbook Stuff 'Horror' range has John Sessions reading Dickens in to a microphone. Sounds boring huh? Not a bit of it! An excellent collection of some short stories of the macabre by the great Charles Dickens, including the unfamiliar - and very chilling - tale, 'A Confession Found In A Prison In The Time Of Charles II'. These Charles Dickens stories are wonderfully brought to life by John Sessions and the atmospheric background music of Howard Carter. This collection of unabridged readings are produced to a high standard that makes other audio-book readings sound rather flat by comparison.

'The Signalman & Other Ghostly Tales' is an excellent introduction to the Textbook Stuff range of audio-books and is a nice sample of some ghostly Charles Dickens tales. Highly recommended.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
NR
Acting Rating:
NR
Replay Rating:
NR
Effects Rating:
NR
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: StevoReview Date: 4/12/12 12:52 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

This Textbook Stuff release of three M.R.James short stories has been out for a while now and I recently decided to re-listen to these stories. I was really impressed at how good they still are. This collection of tales by M.R. James is an excellent choice for late night listening. They are not horrific ghost stories by today's standards, they are a more subtle take on supernatural 'happenings' that anyone familiar with the works of M.R.James would be used to. Andrew Sachs does a really wonderful job at reading these three short stories, each of which has it's own merits, while the sound design - like the rest of the Textbook Stuff range - only adds to the atmosphere to create three brilliant tales of the unknown that should be listened to with the lights on. 'Casting The Runes & Other Uncanny Tales' would serve as a good introduction to the works of M.R. James for anybody unfamiliar with his style of story telling.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
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NR
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
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10
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Reviewed By: MTLReview Date: 12/20/11 2:13 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Each of the authors in this series have a very distinct style in what is generally regarded as a predictable genre. In this case, we have the works of M. R. James, who focused not on gore or shocks but creating an eerie and unsettling atmosphere. It is easy to read his work as just man verses supernatural forces but in fact these encounters reflect and react to discrepencies within man such as curiosity in the second story here. Someone has already made the comment that James is written in the style of someone telling you a story by a fireside at winter and it is true that Sachs as narrator perfectly captures this feeling.

Casting the Runes:
Argaubly his most famous story, it is suitably eerie and deeply unsettling as we learn very little about the being behind the horror. This is a beautiful example of how mere suggestion creates great horror and Sachs shows great awareness of this by not over exaggerating the characters, playing them as naturalistic as you can be in a story about cursed runes. Carter and Edwards are suitably muted, using music and sound effects to a minimal level allowing for genuine shocks such as a discovery (of sorts) under a pillow. While the ending may seem intially anti-climatic, it is imortant to consider the moral ambiguity of the characters as it is difficult to find a solid reason to justify their actions, again a testament to Sachs' acting by not portraying the protagonists as obvious heroes but as victims of circumstances beyond their control.

A Warning To The Curious:
More than any of the others, this is a story that best reflects the art of storytelling, and is a great opportunity for Sachs to further demonstrate his skills of drawing the audience in and keepting them enthralled. Not only does he ensure that the characters are all distinct (in every story) but the two different narrators are both very different characters but are also easy enough to listen to and so serve their function.

The Malice Of Inanimate Objects:
The shortest tale and easily the most disturbing. The two points are related as James' premise is a simple one but allows for some truly horrific moments. The opening sequence contains an impressive sequence of sound effects with a really horrible climax, and in combination with Sachs' matter-of-fact narration makes a very striking opening. However because of it's brevity the story isn't as captivating as the other stories but is an entertainingly gruesome 12 minutes.

A real mix of tones that makes a fantastic taster for James' stories of which I am now desperate to read more of.

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