• The Bad Beginning, A Multi-Voice Recording

  • A Series of Unfortunate Events #1
  • By: Lemony Snicket
  • Narrated by: Tim Curry, Full Cast
  • Length: 2 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (4,787 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Like a car alarm, bagpipe music, or a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night, hearing this all-new audio edition of The Bad Beginning will only upset you. This unique multi-voice recording brings the first book in Lemony Snicket's alarming A Series of Unfortunate Events to such terrible life that no one should really have to experience it. Unless you have an ear for such ghastly details as a tragic fire, a nefarious villain, itchy clothing, and cold porridge for breakfast, all narrated in chilly detail by the distinguished, and disturbed, Tim Curry with a team of talented readers, you would be better off listening to something else.
Don't miss the rest of A Series of Unfortunate Events or Audible's exclusive interview with Lemony Snicket!
©1999 Lemony Snicket (P)2004 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

Audie Award Finalist, Children's Titles for Ages 8+, 2005
Grammy Award Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album for Children, 2005
Book Sense Book of the Year Award Finalist, Children's Literature, 2001

"Tension-producing orchestral music, scene-setting sound effects, and most of all, Tim Curry's chocolate-voiced narration captivate the listener in this multicast production of the Lemony Snicket that started it all.... It's all good fun for listening children and their parents." (AudioFile)

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Audiobooks do not have to be long to provide a great listener experience. In fact, audiobooks as short as under three hours can sometimes be even better than longer listens: they require less of a time commitment, they make it easy to digest information, and they allow you to stay entertained during events of limited duration, like a road trip. And since each book is so short, you can listen to the ones you really love over and over again. Want an immersive audiobook that doesn’t take weeks to finish? Featuring great stories and strong performances, here are the best audiobooks under three hours.

What listeners say about The Bad Beginning, A Multi-Voice Recording

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    3,149
  • 4 Stars
    1,034
  • 3 Stars
    407
  • 2 Stars
    110
  • 1 Stars
    87
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,874
  • 4 Stars
    587
  • 3 Stars
    224
  • 2 Stars
    73
  • 1 Stars
    63
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    2,664
  • 4 Stars
    747
  • 3 Stars
    305
  • 2 Stars
    54
  • 1 Stars
    46

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great start. Too bad about licensing..

I really loved this book. I decided to listen to it between bigger books as sort of a palette cleanser. Tim Curry is Lemony Snicket and a full cast reads the dialog. There are also nice sound effects and music so that it feels like a real radio play.

Unfortunately as I looked to get the other volumes, Audible has not licensed all of the Tim Curry/Full Cast versions of these books. It's disappointing to go from a full production complete with voice acting, sound effects and Tim Curry to Daniel Handler dryly reading his own novels.

So I will not be buying the rest of them until they can get all of the Tim Curry/Full Cast versions.

99 people found this helpful

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

THIS STORY DOES NOT HAVE A HAPPY ENDING

Grew On Me
I listen to this book once before, with a regular reader. I gave it four stars. During the first hour of this reading I was thinking four stars, than like a lightning bolt it hit me, that I was really enjoying it. I think it was hard for me to accept this unusual angle at reaching kids. With all the goodie two shoe books (In which I am a big fan) out there, it is good to have another way to reach children. These books show that bad things, happen to good people, and it is not the fault of the kids. I think it should only be for older kids, though. The story itself is entertaining and I found myself wondering what was going to happen next. The book was not predictable, as most children books are. You may want to listen on your own first, before sharing it with your kids.

I loved the production and I hope they do some more of these.

84 people found this helpful

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

Tries to fix what wasn't broken

There are two versions of 'The Bad Beginning'. The first was done in its entirety by Tim Curry. The second, which is the only version available on Audible, retains Curry's narration but replaces the dialogue with different actors as well as adding sound effects throughout. This was a mistake.

Tim Curry was a perfect narrator in the original book. There are some audiobooks that benefit from full-cast recordings but this is not one of them. Much of Curry's charm is lost in the omission. I might have forgiven this if they had kept Curry's Count Olaf; his performance as the sinister villain is in my opinion the definitive take on the character (it's a shame he was never able to portray the Count in live-action). Unfortunately, not only was Olaf 'recast' but whoever replaced him was not nearly as good.

In addition I found the sound effects are unnecessary. If they had done it sparingly it might have been a nice addition but they are frequently used and become distracting. When I'm listening to an audiobook I don't need to hear a wailing baby in the background.

Unfortunately, as stated before, the original recording is not available to purchase on Audible but if you are able to seek it out you should definitely listen to it.

53 people found this helpful

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

good, but

everything was great, except the sound effects often drowned out the reader. the effects were much louder than the story.

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliantly miserable

I had looked at this series in print, but it had not held my attention as an adult. I was surprised to find I really enjoyed this production of the book- a very high quality, witty, well thought out performance. All the sound effects were excellent, and alterations in the text made sure that the warnings not to listen/read to such gloomy material came across freshly as jokes.
Aimed at children who are just developing a sense of irony, can be painlessly enjoyed by an adult in the same car.

47 people found this helpful

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

Books Will Save You

The Bad Beginning may be, as Lemony Snicket reveals, a miserable tale, but it is a joy to listen to. This full-cast production is of the highest caliber, filled with orchestral music and chilling sound effects. I loved Tim Curry (yes, Dr. Frank N. Furter) as the infamous villain Count Olaf, and was charmed by the witty Baudelaire siblings, who rely on books to help them avoid the Count's treachery.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Be mindful of the age of your listener

I, as an adult, found it interesting. My seven year old son found the bad things that happen to the children disturbing. He especially had problems with the baby being bound and gaged and hung out a window. I am told in book #2 the same baby is threatend with having her toe cut off? An age recommendation would be nice.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wickedly funny -- not just kid stuff

I had toyed with the idea of picking up these books on occasion at various places. After I heard the interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air (on my 40th birthday no less), I had to give these a try. This not just kidstuff (although they are completely kid appropriate). These are so much FUN!!! My husband and I listen to them over and over and laugh our heads off. Misery loves company -- and I am hooked.

36 people found this helpful

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

Too noisy.

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Not wasted, but I'd have preferred spending the time finding a different version.

What did you like best about this story?

The story itself. The characters are fantastical and unpredictable and delightful.

What three words best describe Tim Curry and Full Cast ’s performance?

Too much background.

Do you think The Bad Beginning, A Multi-Voice Recording needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Yes! Just... maybe edited slightly differently.

Any additional comments?

I love these books and I mean - it's Tim Curry! But all the noise in the background was REALLY off-putting.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Yes!

Tim Curry! Lemony Snicket!
This is as good as it gets!

30 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • abeh
  • 08-30-19

Too much background noise

I was so excited to see this series finally on audible as I had the CDs when I was younger. However there is so much background noise and the full cast ruins it. This was such an amazing and eerie audio series before, all the additions have just ruined it. Although, luckily it seems the rest of the books are the original recordings.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emma M.
  • 08-03-19

Ruined by full cast.

Personally I think this has been ruined by the full cast audio! Should be an option to turn this off.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Emily
  • Emily
  • 01-23-20

The Original Audiobook was better

This isn't the original version of the audiobook with just Tim Curry. The music from Daniel Handler isn't at the start of the book and instead there is random music and sound effects theough the story, which is really off putting.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anjali
  • 06-12-19

why is there so much background music?

the narration is good but the background music is too distracting. just puts you off

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Laura Hobbs
  • Laura Hobbs
  • 01-14-19

Misleading

The word “misleading” here means, not as I expected and therefore disappointing.

Whilst Lemony Snicket’s story is without doubt excellent, the cover of the audiobook is the Netflix tv poster. That coupled with the “full cast” narrating this, one might guess that it was narrated by the tv show cast. Unfortunately for listeners, this is not the case and we are left with a drab rendition of an otherwise fascinating tale.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 10-29-05

brilliant

What a great tale, I could not stop listening all the while hoping that something pleasant was going to happen to the three orphans!! A must hear!!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Shaun Stewart
  • Shaun Stewart
  • 12-21-20

No what I hoped for

When I was younger I used to listen to the Tim curry narrated audiobook. He did all the voices and narration. This one features his narration but has others doing the voices so it’s a no from me.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mrs Jessica Mary Bradley
  • 06-21-21

An amazing book

My main problem with this audio book is the terrible voice performance for Violet and Klaus,

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Luciee93
  • 08-17-20

I’d skip straight to book two - the noise ruins it

The full cast I wasn’t keen on but the background noise effects ruin this audio book..Persist if you need to because the whole collection isn’t like this, just started book 2 and it’s JUST Tim Curry and the story, not going to lie I couldn’t get through the whole book, the noise was just too annoying. Personally I would just read up what happens in this book 1 and skip to book 2 :)

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Eve Murphy
  • Eve Murphy
  • 04-05-19

Excellent story

Love the Lemony Snicket books, however, the varying voiceovers made it difficult to listen too.

1 person found this helpful