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From classic gothic novels to new and upcoming psychological fiction, a wide range of audiences are flocking to horror audiobooks in search of frights and thrills. Whether you’re new to the genre, brought here by a Netflix adaption, or just looking for something worth listening to again, this list of our 17 best horror audiobooks is sure to breathe life into the unsettling crevices of your imagination!
Psycho by Robert Bloch is by far my favorite title on this list. Being raised by a filmmaker, I was introduced to the twisted, cunning landscapes of Alfred Hitchcock’s short-story compilations at a young age. Among them was Psycho which I was pleased to stumble upon one late Sunday afternoon on a half-empty school bus as it made its way through the mountain passes. It’s understandable that Hitchcock would adapt such an eerie piece to film, going on to become one of the cult classics of auteur cinema. If you’ve ever watched Bates Motel or the original film adaption of Psycho directed by Hitchcock, then I highly suggest returning to the source of inspiration that gave birth to them!
Let’s take a look at our chosen best horror audiobooks.
1. The Shining – Stephen King
Set in an icy winter landscape, Stephen King sets the mood with this critically acclaimed tale of terror that’s sure to give you the chills!
When Jacks rocky road of alcoholism and unresolved anger leads to accidentally injuring his young son, Danny, he finds himself being dismissed from his job as a teacher. To his benefit, a historical hotel in the secluded countryside of Colorado has offered him the position of the off-season caretaker. In his hopes to reconcile with his family and recover from his addiction, he accepts the role. Jack and his family settle into the Overlook Hotel where we come to see that Danny is no ordinary child. He has the gift of sight beyond the mortal realm, allowing the malevolent forces that crept below the seemingly peaceful halls of the hotel to surface. As they begin to take hold of Jack’s mind, his motivation to pursue his literary works is replaced by an ominous cabin fever of ghastly proportions…
2. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
Arthur Kipps is a junior solicitor for Bentley, a law firm in London. One day he is dispatched to the north-east coast of England to settle the will of a late widow. Eager to escape from the bland and depressing fog of the city to see the countryside again, he bids farewell to his Fiancée Stella. At the small town of Crythin Gifford, Arthur is to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow.
When asked about any information surrounding the late, reclusive widow, the people in Crythin Gifford become increasingly uneasy and reluctant to tell Arthur anything. Over the course of several nights in Eel Marsh House, he spends his time sorting out paperwork and searching for Mrs Drablow’s will. Completely cut off from the mainland and surrounded only by marshes, he endures an unsettling sequence of chilling confrontations by the Woman in Black.
The most frightening moments are often the suggestive and desolate atmospheres which are left to the imagination. Susan Hill journeys to a time when the rationality of the Victorian Era was tainted by tales of ghostly superstitions.
3. Psycho – Robert Bloch
Norman Bates and his wicked mother Norma have a family business in Fairvale, running a small motel. Since the state green-lighted their plans to rebuild the highway through the area, they haven’t had many guests. One day, an elusive woman by the name of Mary Crane appears at their motel, seemingly lost. Unbeknownst to the Bates, she is a wanted criminal, at large for the theft of thousands of dollars. She is invited to have dinner at their house that night, and quickly realizes that Normans mother has a violent, domineering hold over him. Unsettled by this, she distances herself from the two, unaware of the horrific fate that awaits her next.
Macabre and gruesome at every turn! A definite must-read to anyone with a grim fascination for the darker recesses of human nature.
4. Interview with a Vampire – Anne Rice
Follow the tale of Louis who is turned into a vampire by a mysterious man known as Lestat. During his time in the city of New Orleans, Louis finds himself at the mercy of Lestat’s sinister influence and struggles to make peace with what he has become. It is not until his bloodthirst drives him to siphon the last drop of life out of a young girl on the brink of death that Louis begins to see a darker fate surface before his eyes. Lestat resurrects ‘Claudia” as their daughter, dooming her to an eternity trapped in a child’s body. 60 years go by and begin to burden her heavily. In a desperate revolt against his toxic way of life, Claudia plans to murder Lestat and escape to Europe with her sole companion. This enthralling exploration of immortality intricately traces the loneliness and tragedy of its stigma.
5. I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
Horror, Dystopian Sci-Fi
Richard Matheson breathes life into the zombie genre with this New York Times bestseller!
Years have passed since a nationwide pandemic swept all remaining life into vampiric zombies. Robert Neville emerged amidst a dusty, weather torn setting of Los Angeles. The last survivor of the human race. Burdened by the loss of his beloved wife and daughter, he spends his days searching the city for supplies, hunting any vampire in his path. By night, his mind is haunted by the memories of their tragic fate. He lies awake beneath the tireless shouts of the vampires that bang against the barricades of his home. Trying to make sense of how things came to this, Robert begins to research the nature of their condition. He sets on a journey to find a cure for humanity and transcend his lonely existence.
6. Metro 2033 – Dmitry Glukhovsky
It has been 20 years since a global nuclear holocaust has reduced the surface of the earth to an uninhabitable, radiated wasteland. The remaining survivors of humanity have taken refuge in various cities throughout the underground Metro of Moscow, either forming alliances or waging war over economic and political ideologies. One station called VDNKh has become a stronghold against mutant creatures which creep into the depths of the Metro’s tunnels from above.
When confronted by an increasing onslaught by mysterious entities known as “The Dark Ones”, the station appoints a young man named Artyom the responsibility of sending word for help to Polis, a legendary city at the heart of the Metro.
This international bestselling post-apocalyptic novel by Dmitry Glukhovsky explores the consequences of an atomic war with a philosophical undertone about the resilience of human nature. Expect action, thrills and satirical depictions of a radical society.
7. It (1986) – Stephen King
In the summer of 1958 a mysterious, shape-shifting monster that takes on the form of a clown resurfaces in the quaint town of Derry, Maine. Pennywise begins to prey on seven children, one of whom has lost his brother to its grips one year ago. The children soon realize that none of the adults in the town are aware of Its existence, and are unable to help them. They are forced to band together and put an end to the nightmarish creature once and for all. Stephen Kings It is a powerful and terrifying tale of what lurks beneath the surface of a seemingly quaint town, exploring the themes of childhood trauma and the power of friendship.
8. The haunting of Hill House (1959) – Shirley Jackson
Regarded as the greatest haunted-house story ever written by The Wall Street Journal, this slow burning piece has inspired the works of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.
The young Luke Sanderson is hosting some unusual guests at Hill House mansion, the estate with he is set to inherit. Among them are, Dr John Montague, a man who is obsessed with paranormal phenomena, followed by Eleanor and Theodora. The two girls, who are supposedly susceptible to the supernatural, lead John to bring them there. His plan is to capture evidence of the forces that are rumoured to inhabit the halls of Hill House. What begins as a seemingly uneventful endeavour gradually descends into a terrifying nightmare as they discover what evil lies ahead.
9. Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft (2008) –
Horror fiction, Short stories
With all his original classics such as the Cthulu Mythos anthologies, ‘The Rats in the Walls”, and “Under the Pyramids”, Lovecraft sweeps into metaphysical landscapes and ancient crevices. Immerse yourself in the tales of cosmic horror and bizarre ritualism that inspired thousands of readers across the globe.
10. The Tell-Tale Heart (1843) – Edgar Allen Poe
Horror, Gothic fiction
As recounted by a nameless narrator, one of Poe’s best known pieces earns its reputation in this short tale.
Told with great wit, an unnamed and faceless storyteller details the series of events which lead up to the brutal murder of an old man. The narration tries to convince its audience of the protagonist’s sanity when sanity has clearly betrayed them, attempting to rationalize disturbing behaviours at each turn. Themes of paranoia, guilt and insanity are explored in the creepiest way possible.
11. NOS4A2 (2013) – Joe Hill
Horror, Dark Fantasy
The story revolves around Vic McQueen as she is haunted by a sinister murderer with unnatural powers.
As a young girl, Vic discovers a hidden passage while riding her bicycle through a bridge known as the Shorter Way Bridge. She discovers that the bridge takes her to whatever she is looking for. This leads her to a library in Iowa where she befriends Maggie, the librarian who works there. Maggie reveals that she has the ability to use Scrabble blocks as divination tools. She warns Vic of a dangerous entity referred to as “the Wraith” who we later come to know as Charles Manx.
Joe Hill shines the spotlight on the trauma of child abduction in this chilling novel.
12. The Last Days of Jack Sparks (2016) – Jason Arnopp
Psychological thriller, Dark Fantasy
When a hedonistic journalist sets out to disprove the supernatural, he finds himself bearing witness to what he considers a fake exorcism. Jack Sparks, the egotistical cynic, has ridden a long train of debauchery up until this point. As the tables begin to turn, strange events follow him down into a pit of darkness. There, he will have to confront more than demons and ghosts.
Jason Arnopp leaves a humorous mark on the disdainful culture that exist within the realm of the book.
13. You (2014) – Caroline Kepnes
Upon meeting the main character, Joe, an uneasy feeling immediately jumps out at you. While he seems normal enough, something remains unspoken. Joe works in a bookstore, and one day he meets Guinevere. What starts off as a seemingly relatable love story quickly reveals its self as something far more sinister. Driven by obsession and an insatiable desire for control, the narrative dives its characters deep into manipulation games, leaving you both rooting for and hating them.
14. Dark Matter (2010) – Michelle Paver
A rather broke, rather desperate Jack is given the opportunity to fill the role of a wireless operator on an Arctic expedition. They are set to voyage to a remote and uninhabited place known as Gruhuken. All seems well until the team of expeditioners are faced with the loss of one of their crewmen. The days gradually shorten, forcing most of Jack’s companions to leave. He realizes that he has to make a decision on whether to carry on with the project or not, but he does not yet realize what awaits him in the night.
If you weren’t already, Paver will put you off from going to the Arctic any time soon!
15. American Elsewhere (2013) – Robert Jackson Bennet
Not far from a government laboratory in New Mexico, an ex-cop travels to the small town of Wink. Our protagonist, Mona Bright, has come to claim the inheritance left behind by her late mother. Their non-existent relationship leaves more questions than answers, sending her on a quest to uncover the truth about her mother’s past. The picture perfect town of Wink loses its charm as the residents secretive behaviour hint at something darker. Mona is about to find more than she ever bargained for.
While Bennet’s book slips beyond the margins of realism in this unsettling tale, there is an ever present sense of nostalgia to accompany it. At heart, it’s a tale about loss and closure.
16. The Call (2016) – Peadar O’Guilin
Survival Horror, Dystopian
After being overcome with Polio, Nessa finds herself walking a fine line between life and death. She is set to receive “the call”, a trial by fire of gruesome nature. All the children of Ireland are cursed to this fate upon a certain age, being snatched into a distant realm for just three minutes and four seconds. While that may not seem like much, it lasts a whole day in Grey Land, and fewer than one in ten survive. Like all other children, she is shipped off to attend survival college in the hopes of preparing her for the horrors that await her on the other side.
O’Guilin draws from the unavoidable brutality of modern society and explores its role in shaping young minds. There’s no holding back in this bloody tale of determination.
17. The Twisted Ones – T. Kingfisher
Horror, Esoteric Fiction
Stuffed with useless rubbish and locked up for two years, the hoarder’s paradise belonging to Melissa’s late grandmother quietly waits for her in North Carolina. Her father has given her the task of clearing the place out, which she can’t say no to. With Bongo, her beloved canine companion at her side, Melissa sets out to obey her father’s wishes. While sorting through the various items in the house, she stumbles upon a journal belonging to her step-grandfather. That’s when things begin to take a strange turn. At first, the journal seems like the absurd ravings of a mad man. It’s only after a chilling stroll through the nearby woods that Melissa realizes her step-grandfather wasn’t the only person around with some spooky stories to share.
The Twisted Ones crossbreeds ancient folklore with the deliciously horrifying charm of what lays in the depths of the woods.