For the most part we shy away from reviewing major artists or producers or content here. There are enough people out there doing that. We typically like to focus on the indie and the unique. But can I make a confession? I love Audible. I freaking love it. Jeff Bezos could turn out to be a child killing cannibal trying to summon satan through capitalism and worker exploitation. He could admit it on live tv while chewing on a piece of toddler tartare and I wouldn’t get rid of my subscription.
Being an ardent fan of not just the streaming service they provide but of audibooks as an art form, I thought I’d share some of my favorite horror picks.
It seems like the low hanging fruit here – and it is – but most of Stephen King’s work is worth looking at. A lot of Stephen King stuff attracts good narrators, some of the best in the industry in fact. John Glover (Smallville, Gremlins 2) did a series of short stories which are worth listening to. The collection Everything’s Eventual has a great cast and some fun stories. While not on Audible The Mist (In 3D Sound) is a full cast dramatization that is perfect. It is a bit older and available on YouTube or Spotify for free. (https://youtu.be/xrHei4ZbxdM ) You can get other version of The Mist on Audible but none as good as this one. Any time Frank Muller reads Stephen King it’s worth a listen – King said that Muller read it the way he (King) heard it in his head – so keep an ear out for those. The Dark Tower series, Cell, The Shining, IT, The Stand and ‘Salem’s Lot are not only good books but great audio books.
If you are feeling a bit more romantic or languid Anne Rice has days worth of material out there to listen to. But her original Vampire Chronicles Trilogy Interview with the Vampie, The Vampire Lestat, and Queen of the Damned are an unrivaled body of work when it comes to the furious fanged villains of lore. Narrator Simon Vance gives a fitting regal performance.
Richard Matheson’s importance on the horror landscape can’t be understanded. I am Legend is a stone cold classic that shouldn’t be ignored. But some of his other works like Hell House are also wonderful. The latter has a great audiobook available.
The Wolfen by Whitley Strieber is an all time favorite of mine. It’s hard to get the original Roddy McDowall version but gods is it worth it. It is an abridged version, which I normally don’t tolerate but such an amazing performance that it is instantly forgivable. The new version on Audible, however, is a decent alternative. The Wolfen is hands down one of the most creative, not to mention terrifying, takes on the werewolf mythology ever. It offers up a great twist on the creature that has yet to be topped. This is not a standard werewolf story by any means nor does it have much in common with the fun but forgettable movie adaptation.
If you want to go a bit more old school Shirley Jackson is a solid choice – Haunting of Hill House is easily one of the most influential horror novels ever written and is surprisingly effective to this day. Both Robert Chambers and Edgar Allan Poe have a slew of works available with a range of narrators. You are guaranteed a good tale but be sure to sample the narrator before purchasing as the quality certainly runs the gamut.
H.P. Lovecraft is one of the quintessential authors of modern horror. His works are available, in their entirety, on audible. The different collections they have allow you to pick and choose which style you really prefer. The Cthulhu Mythos? The Cosmic Horror? Its dealers choice. Or get the entire collection in a giant 51 hour edition. But don’t forget that the bulk of Lovecraft’s work is public domain and thus free and legal on YouTube from a variety of sources.
Modern Myth Makers
John Langan has two books on Audible both are very much worth getting but I’d start with The Fisherman. If you like Lovecraft The Fisherman won’t disappoint (you can read our review of it here.) It is a sophistcated modern tale that is short on gore and long on everything else. It is filled with drama and emotion as well as errie things that go bump in the night, But, The Wide and Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies is my favorite. Langan employs a variety of literary feats to add some cleverness to an already profoundly creative collection.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill– A solid horror book elevated by a commanding performance. It is easy to think of Kate Mulgrew as no more than Captain Janeway on Star Trek – but you’d be a fool to do so. Mulgrew is a veritable fountain of talent. Just when you think you’ve seen her do everything she finds new ways to surprise you. Her performance in NOS4A2 is one of the best I’ve heard. Hills novel is excellent, there is no disputing that. It is creative, chilling, and tightly written. But make no mistake the narration is the stand out here.
The Imago Sequence By Laird Barron. Like John Langan, Laird Barron is one of the modern names of note in horror literature. His short story collection the Imago Sequence is delightfully spooky and weird. As of this writing it is free to audible subscribers.
World War Z: The Complete Edition is on audible and is a flat out must own. Not only is the book good enough that West Point college deemed inviting the author of a zombie story to lecture to future soldiers and commanders on the politics of panic it is a solid zombie tale. It is a book that rivals the cinema classics of Romero. Yet it’s not just a great book – the cast? OMG. It is just jam packed with stars – Mark Hamill, Henry Rollins, Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, Alan Tudyk, Nathan FIllion – just to name a few. Brook’s follow up Devolution, is not quite as ground breaking as WWZ but a strong novel and easily one of, if not the greatest Bigfoot tale ever put down on paper.
I adored Michelle Paver’s Dark Matter. I will never pass up an opportunity to recommend it. BBC did an abridged radio version last Christmas but the Audible version is far better. Wait a few months and do it in winter though, it’s a great classic British slow burn – perfect for windy winter evenings.
The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R Keirnan often gets lumped in with horror. It isn’t – not in the strictest sense but it is a good audiobook that scratches the same itch as horror. It isn’t for everyone as Kiernan eschews plot and traditional form for more artistic exploration of the medium. Some great writing if you want some non traditional stuff. This book is as haunting as it is well crafted.
Series and Sagas
John Dies at the End by David Wong. Former editor of Cracked.com David Wong is no stranger to the weird and wild. However, in the fiction world he lets his freak flag fly at full mast. A perfect blend of horror, sci-fi, comedy, weird fiction, mystery, bro-mance and romance that actor (and sci-fi enthusiast) Paul Giamatti called “…an embarrassment of riches.” And he couldn’t be more right. This is a saga that just keeps giving. Every book in this series is horror comedy gold. Nor does it skimp on the horror. Wong never goes for traditional monsters or horror tropes. But even when amidst jokes he can throw the reader for a loop with some disturbing creatures and horrific concepts.
If you want a bit of supernatural action ala Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Supernatural there are two names you must know. Kim Harrison and Laurell K. Hamilton both have long running supernatural mystery series that are addictive and memorable. Like any good mystery series you can dive in at any point but it never hurts to start at the beginning.
These two authors alone will provide you with more horror and fantasy fun than you can shake a stick at. Why you are shaking a stick and how on earth that relates to fun, is your business and frankly we want no part of it. But, rest assured once you have gotten that stick shaking business out of your system any audiobook on this list will be worth your time and that audible credit.
While I love Audible I would be remiss not to tell you to first look to your local bookstores, libraries, authors web pages, and other sources to find some of these treasures. Also; spotify, youtube, and a plethora of podcasts have wonderful content out there that won’t cost you anything.