Spooky Stories to Listen to in October

October is a boom time for horror stories, with fans preparing for Halloween by spending the month binging the best slasher films, monster shows and horror books. And for those who would prefer to turn off the lights and listen to a spooky story, audiobooks provide plenty of bone-chilling options. Many of the horror classics from writers like Stephen King and Shirley Jackson are available in audio form, while original podcasts and audio stories provide new terrors for veteran fans of the genre.      

Here are 10 of the best horror audiobooks and podcasts available on audiobook.

By Neil Gaiman

One of the most acclaimed comic book series of all time, Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” tells the story of the personification of Dreams, and his journeys through myth and history. The series mixes a variety of genres from fantasy to historical fiction, but always has an element of horror at its core, particularly in the first few volumes which sees the protagonist journey into hell and confront serial killers and demons who escaped his realm. Two ambitious audiobook adaptations of the comics have been released, which covers the first six volumes and replaces the comic’s art with narration from Gaiman himself. An army of A-list stars provide the vocal performances for the characters, with James McAvoy leading a cast that includes Kat Dennings, Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Riz Ahmed, Rege Jean-Page, Brian Cox, Jeffrey Wright, Bebe Neuwirth, Emma Corrin and David Tennet. 

By Stephen King

As one of the most popular authors (horror or otherwise) alive, Stephen King has no shortage of audio adaptations of his work available on Audible. While the majority are solid, his first published novel “Carrie” received plum treatment, with Sissy Spacek serving as the narrator. An Academy Award nominee for her portrayal of the novel’s titular telekinetic outcast in the 1976 film adaptation, Spacek knows the story she made famous inside and out, and listening to her tackle the horror icon in her original form is a thrill for fans. 

By Stephen Graham Jones

An audiobook original from horror author Stephen Graham Jones (“The Only Good Indians,” “My Heart is a Chainsaw”), “The Babysitter Lives” tells the story of Charlotte, an Indigenous high schooler who babysits two six-year old twins the night before Halloween. With her last sitting gig having nearly ended in the child’s death, Charlotte desires nothing more than a drama-free night, but it quickly becomes clear that the twin’s house may be haunted. The story is a nasty thrill, with plenty of twists and turns that make it a memorable listening experience. 

By Night Vale Presents

A podcast from the makers of popular horror-comedy podcast “Welcome to Night Vale,” “Alice Isn’t Dead” is a more straightforwardly spooky story about a truck driver traveling America to find her long-thought dead wife. Over the course of the show’s three seasons and thirty episodes, all presented as audio diaries from the narrator, the show weaves in inhuman serial killers, towns missing in time and a larger supernatural conspiracy. In addition to the podcast, every episode of which is available on Audible, series creator Joseph Fink adapted the story into a novel, which received an audiobook version narrated by series star Jasika Nicole.    

By Shirley Jackson

The definitive haunted house book, Shirley Jackson’s “Haunting of Hill House” has remained iconic since its original 1959 release, and for good reason. The tale of four researchers attempting to uncover the mysteries of a desolate abandoned manor is a masterclass in suspense, leaving the nature of what’s going on ambiguous as their stay slowly breaks the group’s psyche. The book has been adapted into two horror films and a 2018 Netflix series loosely based on the material, but it’s well worth experiencing the story in its original form, with narrator Bernadette Dunne providing an appropriately spooky telling.

By Rusty Quill

A long-running anthology podcast that wrapped up last year, “The Magnus Archives” features 200 episodes of original horror stories. Directed by Alexander J. Newall, the series presents itself as the findings of an archivist (voiced by Jonathan Sims) perusing the files of the Magnus Institute, an organization that researches bizarre and unexplained phenomena. With so many episodes, the podcast features a horror story for everyone, whether zombies, vampires or good old fashioned murder is more your speed.  

By John Darnielle

Released this year, “Devil House” centers on Gage Chandler, a burnt out writer specializing in true crime fare. Desperate for another break, he accepts an opportunity to move to the small town of Milpitas, Calif., staying in a house where two murders once occurred at the height of the ‘80s Satanic Panic, to research the true nature of the crimes.  While it starts simply enough, the book gets increasingly meta as it goes on, tackling the ethics of true crime as a genre and blurring the line between fact and fiction. John Darnielle (best known as the lead singer of The Mountain Goats) wrote the book and narrates the twisty tale, which includes music by Darnielle and Matt Douglas of The Mountain Goats.

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

An aptly named gothic horror tale, “Mexican Gothic” tells the story of Noemí Taboada, a wealthy Mexican socialite who visits her cousin after she sends a letter claiming her English husband is attempting to murder her. Isolated in their home, a mountain-bound mansion known as High Place in the Mexican countryside, Noemí is forced to investigate the Doyle family, a controlling clan with a dark history of colonialism and exploitation. The novel is a lush and thrilling take on the gothic horror tradition, filled with twists and romance to make it a seductive listen.

By Sara Gran

An Audible original scripted by writer Sara Gran, “Marigold” is presented as a podcast between an unnamed paranormal investigator and Anna, a young woman who grew up in a seemingly haunted house — and loved the experience. Over the course of the eight episodes, the two explore Anna’s troubled childhood and the history of the house itself, while the question of whether or not the house is truly haunted remains open for debate. Featuring excellent performances by Zoe Kazan and Jason Culp as the two main characters, “Marigold” is a short but satisfying horror story.

By Jeff VanderMeer

The incredibly weird “Annihilation” was adapted into an acclaimed 2018 film starring Natalie Portman, but the original novel from Jeff VanderMeer is a delightfully twisty listen. Focusing on the secret Southern Reach agency, “Annihilation” follows a group of scientists sent by the agency to investigate the mysterious Area X. Cut off from the rest of society and slowly being reclaimed by nature, Area X has caused mental trauma and physical illness to everyone who has dared enter it. As they investigate, the four women encounter bizarre creatures and unnatural plant life, and are forced to face both threats to their lives and their own personal secrets. In addition to “Annihilation,” VanderMeer wrote two follow-up books — “Authority” and “Acceptance,” which are also available via Audible.

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