Horror is one of the most popular genres of fiction available. Humans love to be scared and it is this search for danger and the need to be frightened occasionally that makes so many of us love horror books.
Audiobooks are one of the best ways to consume tales of horror. Many have lavish productions with several narrators or sound effects that can really draw you into the plot in a way that words on a page cannot.
If you’re looking for a new horror audiobook but don’t know what to choose, then don’t worry! I’ve picked the 7 best horror audiobooks that you should listen to.
The Shining By Stephen King
No list of horror books is complete without Stephen King and there are so many different King novels that could be included on this list. I’ve chosen to include The Shining over other books such as IT or The Stand because it is a classic horror story that is easy to relate to.
Jack Torrance, along with his wife Wendy and his son Danny, arrives at the Outlook Hotel for his job as winter caretaker. Jack hopes to finish a play that he is working on while also continuing to mend his often-strained relationship with his family.
However, there is a dark entity within the hotel that wants to feast on Danny’s special psychic gifts and Jack is its tool to get what it wants. The Shining is full of suspense and horror lurks behind every hotel room door.
- Masterful suspense building throughout the story
- Well-developed characters and relationships
- The slow pace isn’t for everyone
Dracula By Bram Stoker
One of the first and most famous horror books ever written, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has transcended the genre to become one of the most well-known characters of all time. Stoker’s take on vampires was not the first but has become the blueprint for most of the vampire stories that followed.
The book takes the format of a series of letters and journal entries written by various characters such as Jonathon Harker and Dr. Van Helsing. This style of writing allows the reader to go along for the ride as Harker travels to Transylvania to organize the estate of Count Dracula.
Harker soon finds himself caught in a dangerous and frightening web that threatens not only Harker but also his beautiful fiancé Mina.
There are several different audiobook versions of Dracula, but I’ve chosen this version as it is unabridged and features a full voice cast with such famous names as Alan Cumming and Tim Curry.
- The voice cast really brings the story to life
- The gothic worldbuilding is still impressive
- The epistolary style of writing is not to everyone’s tastes
Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
From one classic to another, Frankenstein is another book that helped to change the genre of horror and has been highly influential in many books that followed. Dr. Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with having the power to create life.
After securing enough body parts from various graveyards, Frankenstein’s stitched-together creation is brought to life through a large shock of electricity. However, the creation isn’t what Frankenstein hoped for and soon everything the doctor held dear is put at risk.
Frankenstein is a wonderful tale of gothic horror and its themes of science and how far it should go are still relevant today.
- Chapters from the creator’s viewpoint are fascinating
- The themes of the book are still relevant today
- The epistolary style of writing is not to everyone’s tastes
The Woman In Black By Susan Hill
At only five and a half hours long, this audiobook is a quick listen but that doesn’t make it any more effective. This version of the audiobook is recorded with immersive 3D sound so it’s sure to send chills down the spine of anyone who listens!
It’s a classic ghost story set in eerie Eel Marsh house. Junior solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent to attend the funeral of Alice Drablow, a recluse who called Eel Marsh home.
When Kipps sees a mysterious figure at Drablow’s funeral, a sense of unease begins in the young man and this only grows when sorting out Drablow’s estate means he has to stay in Eel Marsh house himself. This audiobook is a perfect choice for those that love supernatural and gothic horror.
- 3D sound is very well done and adds an extra layer of horror to the audiobook
- The author builds the world and creepy occurrences well
- May be too slow-paced and detail-orientated for some readers
Rosemary’s Baby By Ira Levin
This is another short audiobook as it clocks in at just over six hours. It’s expertly read by Mia Farrow, who also played the lead role in the successful film adaptation. It’s a psychological horror and was the best-selling horror novel of the 1960s.
Rosemary Woodhouse is a young and happy housewife with a loving husband, a struggling actor named Guy. The Woodhouses move into a new apartment together that has a checkered past and many friendly older neighbors.
After Guy scores a good role in a Broadway show, Rosemary falls pregnant and their neighbors, the Castavets, take a close interest in her health. Soon, Rosemary begins to realize that the neighbor’s interest is more than friendly and that the health and life of her baby are at risk.
- The psychological horror and dread build expertly through the book
- Easy to read and well-written
- Parts of the story have become dated and don’t read as well through a modern lens
The Haunting Of Hill House By Shirley Jackson
Now a popular miniseries on Netflix, The Haunting of Hill House is also a terror-inducing book that is just as great as an audiobook as it is in any other format. Hill House is an old mansion that has been abandoned and fallen into disrepair.
Four very different people all approach the house to stay there and all have their own motives and desires. They include Luke, the heir to the house, and Dr. Montague, a scholar of the occult that hopes to find evidence of paranormal activity within the mansion.
To begin with, the mansion is like any other old building. There are inexplicable noises and other phenomena that might be consistent with a haunting but could also just be the settling of an old house that is unused to visitors.
But Hill House is something more and it soon begins to target one of the four visitors in the hope of keeping them forever.
The Ritual By Adam Nevill
This is one of the newer books chosen for this list but that doesn’t make it any less frightening! The audiobook is a medium length at around 11 hours and 35 minutes, making it perfect for a long road trip or flight.
Four friends from university decide to reconnect by traveling to the Arctic Circle for a vacation. Three of the four friends have found success in both their careers and personal lives but the still single and less-successful Luke finds it difficult to reconnect with his friends.
The four friends begin a hike through the Scandinavian wilderness but the combination of a wrong turn and their inexperience as hikers soon sees them hit trouble.
Not only are they lost in the middle of nowhere, but they find themselves in the middle of a very old habitation that was once used for sinister purposes that aren’t entirely finished.
- Great building of dread throughout the first half
- Interesting group dynamics
- The second half of the story becomes very wordy
Best Horror Audiobooks Buyers Guide
Before you choose the best horror audiobook for you, there are a few criteria you should consider.
Genre Of Horror
Although horror is a genre in itself, it can be further broken down into several different types of horror. Not every type of horror is for every fan of horror, so choosing your favorite type of horror will help you pick the right book.
Gothic horror often weaves in death, romance, and horrific situations and this genre is represented in this list by Dracula and Frankenstein.
Books such as The Shining are paranormal horror and instead focus on elements that cannot be explained by basic science, such as ghosts and spirits. Non-supernatural horror instead focuses on the horror that can be caused by humans and has a more realistic base.
Audiobooks can vary greatly in length. For example, Some of Stephen King’s lengthier works can rack up to 40 hours whereas other horror books such as The Woman in Black can be finished in five or six.
Consider where you will be listening to the audiobook and how long you can dedicate to listening. You should make sure that you will have enough time and opportunity to finish the story.
In this article, I listed 7 of the best horror audiobooks you should listen to. There are several different types of horror and I tried to include as many different styles of books as possible so that there is something for every fan of horror.
I also included a buying guide with a couple of considerations you should keep in mind to help you make your choice.
Horror is a fantastic and inventive genre of fiction that allows us to safely explore the darker themes in life. With so many great audiobooks to choose from, it’s no wonder that it’s so popular.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Why Are Some Horror Audiobooks Abridged?
Before the introduction of services such as Audible, audiobooks were sold on CDs and these had limited storage capabilities. This led to many audiobooks becoming abridged so they would fit on a smaller number of CDs.
What Does A Full Audio Cast Mean?
These are audiobook productions that have different voice actors for every character in the book. Most audiobooks only have one narrator that reads everything, including all of the character voices.
Are there any benefits to listening to horror stories?
Yes! Humans love to explore horror because it gives our brains a chance to experience terrifying–and sometimes exciting–adventures without actually having to live through them. Reading about someone facing a literal flesh-eating monster is a great way to practice how to deal with the not-so-literal monsters we face in real life every day. And listening to horror stories adds an extra element of feeling immersed in the story.
Is listening to a horror story scarier than reading it?
I think that depends on your personal preference. Some readers may feel more scared while listening to the sound effects and voice inflection of a narrated scary story. Others may find that reading in a quiet room with nothing but the voice in their own head is far more terrifying.