The Beetle (unabridged)

Audio Sample

Richard Marsh

The Beetle

Read by Gunnar Cauthery, Jonathan Aris, Natalie Simpson, Andrew Wincott & John Foley


The Beetle is a horror novel that was published in 1897 and significantly outsold Dracula, which appeared in the same year. A polymorphous Egyptian creature – the Beetle – seeks revenge on the eminent British politician Paul Lessingham for crimes committed against the disciples of an ancient cult. Although it is less well-known than Dracula to modern readers, The Beetle remains a leading example of the Gothic novel.

The story is told from the perspectives of four different characters, concluding with the account of the detective Augustus Champnell. The action takes place within a three-day period in an undisclosed year in the 1800s.

Audiofile – Earphones Award
  • Running Time: 12 h 27 m

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    Digital ISBN:978-1-78198-391-1
    Cat. no.:NA0527
    Produced by:John Foley
    Edited by:Andrew Riches
    Released:January 22
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Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Although largely unknown to American audiobook listeners, all five of these rich, distinctive voices demonstrate extensive experience in British theater and television. Together they evoke the atmosphere of Victorian privilege and decorum that defines this forgotten gothic thriller. A series of four proper Britishers recount their struggles against an ancient Egyptian cult. A fifth voice, John Foley, announces the chapter titles and serves to link both the narrative and the narrators. The plot may be a bit dated, but that’s part of its genre appeal, and its prevailing creepiness. This fine ensemble delivers the maximum wallop out of its antique thrills and builds a sense of menace that’s hard to shake. Those with entomophobia would be wise to pass on this title.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Marsh’s tale of an ancient Egyptian shape-shifting creature – the titular Beetle – seeking revenge against a British politician may not be widely known today, but when it was released in 1897, it substantially outsold Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was published the same year. The plot unfolds from the point of view of four people. Robert Holt is a clerk who meets the Beetle on a dark and stormy night and is mind-controlled by him into stealing letters from a politician named Paul Lessingham. Sydney Atherton agrees to help the Beetle, in exchange for the love of Marjorie Lindon and later for the creature’s help in saving his friend’s life. Marjorie Lindon is a politician’s daughter who has romantic connections to both Lessingham and Atherton and is eventually captured by the Beetle. The story’s final section is told from the point of view of Augustus Champnell, a detective who takes Lessingham’s confession about his involvement in a cult devoted to Isis, which has led to the Beetle’s obsession with him. Gunnar Cauthery, Jonathan Aris, Natalie Simpson, and Andrew Wincott provide resonant, compelling narration.

Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

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