It's Halloween season and the perfect time to get spooky with some great horror books. But if you really want to get in the zone, we recommend dimming the lights and listening. We checked in with our friends and fellow booklovers at Libro.fm — an audiobook service that splits profits with independent bookstores — and they shared some of the most popular horror audiobooks right now.
Length: 10 hours, 17 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Let's say you enjoy a good horror story, but you're tired of watching the feminine characters run away screaming just when it's getting good. You're so over zombies. What's more, you love the idea that there is deep mystery in nature, maybe even magic, and you're tired of pagan imagery being used with outdated 'Satanic panic' tropes. What you really want is that feeling that comes from surfacing after the last page of a maybe-I'm-crazy-or-maybe-there-really-is-something-there, intense, suspenseful plot, to find that dawn has begun while you were reading and that the day looks strange and beautiful after what you've just experienced. Good thing you have Wonderland by Zoje Stage! See you at breakfast, when you too will be aching to talk to somebody about the ending!" —Nialle, the Haunted Bookshop
Length: 11 hours, 18 minutes
It's 1982, and the FBI has put together a task force focusing on cold cases involving juvenile killers. Two teenagers — Emma Lewis, a serial killer survivor, and Travis Bell, a candidate for the US Marshals — are recruited to help. But things intensify when they're asked to help on an active case, and Emma turns to Simon Gutmunsson, one of the country's most notorious murderers. And the more info she gets, the closer — and more dangerous — their relationship becomes.
Length: 8 hours, 37 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "I loved this book. Jones has a unique narrative voice, allowing ‘the entity’ to step in and take over unexpectedly, amping up the horror. Also, each character has a distinct voice that brings them to life. Jones combines the culture and traditions of the Blackfeet and Crow people with the social truths of their contemporary life. It is refreshingly different from any other horror novel I’ve read. This book is gruesome and honestly scary. I couldn’t put it down." —Kristine Jelstrom-Hamill, Buttonwood Books and Toys
7. Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks; read by Judy Greer, Nathan Fillion, Kimberly Guerrero, and others
Length: 18 hours, 17 minutes
Jessica is convinced her husband David is everything she's been looking for — a loving partner and father with whom she's built a beautiful home and family in Miami. But her marital bliss is thrown into chaos when David reveals a dark secret: He is immortal, having sacrificed his humanity as a member of an Ethiopian sect over 400 years ago. Now his fellow immortals want him to return, but David has other plans — namely, sacrificing his wife's and daughter's souls so they can be with him forever.
Kara has just had a divorce, and she’s decided to move in with her uncle. When she discovers a hole in the wall of his strange antique store, she finds it leads to a bunker holding portals to various alternate, dangerous realities full of monstrous and magical creatures. One particularly dangerous creature can travel between dimensions — and he only grows stronger the more he's feared.
Length: 12 hours, 57 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "With exception to the first part of high school (because vampires), I do not read horror. But Sawkill Girls had me in fits of hysterical laughter as often, if not more so, than it had me on the edge of my seat. Legrand crafts each and every character with incredible finesse, much like an ogre or onion with all their dichotomous layers. Good and bad, weak and strong, self-sacrificing and selfish: human. She gets at the heart of what it is to be a girl — the expectations placed upon us by ourselves as often as others, the necessity we feel to hold up the world, and how powerful (and terrifying) it can be to be powerless. Never have I read a greater call to smash the patriarchy than Sawkill Girls. Never has horror been so utterly enticing.” —Britt, Second Star to the Right
2. None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney; read by Christine Lakin, Maxwell Hamilton, Zach Villa, and Jake Abel
Length: 9 hours, 49 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Brooks writes about these futuristic horror-ish survival adventures, in a way that drives you forward like the plot of a good thriller. His irony is excellent, and his vivid descriptions are clear, non-flowery and absolutely relevant to the plot. And this is the part that I also like so much: I naturally start thinking, How would I handle this? How do you avoid mistakes like this? I couldn't wait to see how these pieces of information came together, things I knew were important but didn't know why. This is such a smart book, even more outstanding in audio than I could have hoped! Be careful... if you listen in the car, you’ll start hoping for traffic." —Laura, Buxton Books
Length: 9 hours, 25 minutes
Makani Young has moved from Hawaii to Osbourne, Nebraska, to live with her grandmother and hopefully leave a dark past behind her. There she begins to fall for Ollie, even though she's heard not-so-great rumors about him, and despite her friends' opinions. But things quickly turn sinister when students at Osbourne High are being killed in truly horrific ways. Everyone is a suspect, and, as the killer shows no signs of stopping, Makani wonders if her past has something to do with the gruesome present.
Length: 11 hours, 3 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Maggie Holt was the central character of the bestselling memoir her father wrote about their 14 days living in the supposedly haunted Baneberry Hall. She was only 5 when they lived there and she remembers nothing about the time, but since the book was essentially about her she is constantly bombarded with questions and made fun of by nonbelievers. All she really knows is that her father swore everything he wrote was true, and that on his deathbed he begged Maggie never to return to the house. Since Maggie doesn’t believe in ghosts, she decides to find out for herself what caused them to run from the house 20 years ago. If, like Maggie, you don’t believe in ghosts and think there is a rational explanation for everything you will love trying to figure out what that explanation is. As you hear Maggie’s father read his book, and at the same time follow what is now happening to Maggie and what is going on at Baneberry Hall, you may begin to believe that the only explanation is that Baneberry Hall is truly haunted. The brilliant plotting was instrumental in making this one of the creepiest and most believable ghost stories I have ever read and the ending was beyond amazing.” —Nancy, Fiction Addiction
Length: 9 hours, 5 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Paul Adams may have left behind his hometown and the tragedy that happened 25 years ago, but as we know, The past is never dead. It’s not even past. The murder that has haunted him for so long comes roaring back into his life when there’s a new killing and secrets are uncovered. Dreams really do come true, but this one may just kill Paul. Highly atmospheric and emotionally gripping, The Shadows is best read with all the lights on and well before you plan to go to sleep." —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books
13. My Mother's House by Francesca Momplaisir; read by Karen Chilton, Janina Edwards, and Dion Graham
Length: 10 hours, 11 minutes
Bestselling horror novelist Gregory Stillingsworth can't say no to an antique doll he finds while shopping in India, despite its steep price. Little does he know he's invited pure evil into his home: The doll is possessed by a dark spirit doing Satan's bidding. Gregory is quickly thrown into the middle of a battle between the forces of good and evil, and the lives and souls of his family are at stake.
Length: 17 hours, 15 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Mira Grant has conjured up scary mermaids living in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. An expedition sets out to learn if mermaids truly exist and to uncover the fate of a previous expedition. The new crew is being recorded for a documentary, with the hope it will prove mermaids are real and clear the network of wrongdoing. Both Tory, whose sister was killed on the first expedition, and Jillian, who has been teaching about mermaids for years, are going out on the state-of-the-art ship; however, that ship has one major flaw. You will not look at The Little Mermaid the same way again!" —Jason Kennedy, Boswell Book Company
Length: 10 hours, 23 minutes
Lucien arrives in New York with his wife, Marie-Ange, their three children, and dreams of a better life than the one they left in their home country of Haiti. They land in a neighborhood with a quickly shifting demographic — formerly a community of Italian mobsters, it's now a haven for Haitian immigrants — and Lucien buys a rundown house which he opens up to fellow immigrants who might need shelter or help. But Lucien's optimistic fresh start isn't enough to erase his unresolved trauma, and as he starts to indulge his worst impulses, he doesn't realize the house itself is watching — and it's ready to punish him for his wrongdoings.
17. His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allan Poe's Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined edited by Dahlia Adler; read by a full cast
Length: 16 hours, 24 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Imagine if Bram Stoker was forced to cut the first 101 pages of Dracula due to an overly sensitive editor worried about creating a mass panic throughout the streets of London, already overwhelmed with fear over Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders. Wouldn’t you wonder what Stoker wasn’t allowed to write? In Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker, a prequel to the 1897 classic, you meet a young and sickly Bram, his inquisitive sister Matilda, and their mysterious nanny Ellen in this devilishly dark drama destined to creep out the hardiest of horror fans. Spanning the years of 1854 through 1890, it follows the Stoker siblings’ quest to seek answers for the unimaginable horror unearthed one dark and stormy night, beginning with Ellen’s disappearance and ending with Bram, stake in hand. It’s Gothic lore at its most gruesome." —Kristin, McLean & Eakin Booksellers
Length: 5 hours, 20 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "Gothic and atmospheric, this book is a terrifying fever dream, an extended waking nightmare. It follows Goody, our unreliable narrator, as she gets lost in the woods and discovers what lies beyond the veil. Lurking behind Laird Hunt’s lush and evocative prose is a sense of dread that creeps up your spine as the story twists and writhes. It’s a haunted-woods tale full of wolves and witches—the brutal kind who eat children and steal your very soul. A perfect and easy-to-devour book to usher in Halloween or give you a fright any time of the year. Just be sure to read it with all the lights on." —Kelly, Bookshop Santa Cruz
Length: 14 hours, 1 minute
Apollo Kagwa is a new father, and his wife, Emma, is starting to act strange. When she suddenly disappears, after committing an unthinkable act, he travels to dark and mystical worlds to find his family — while haunted by the memory of his own father, who disappeared when he was just a young boy.
Length: 14 hours, 13 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "I already enjoy Edgar Allan Poe and his Gothic darkness, and this collection of modern writers taking on Poe classics was something fresh and interesting. I had to stop to absorb and process these stories (and one poem) before moving on to the next — sometimes pausing for many days, they were so genuinely thrilling and disturbing. Beautiful, funny, surprising, and affecting, I think Poe would read many of these and see himself in them. On the audiobook, each story was read by a different voice, which was a perfect way to set off each writer's style." —Kim, Lark & Owl
Length: 11 hours, 37 minutes
Immanuelle Moore’s mother was promised to the Prophet — but she went against his word and conceived a child with an outsider of a different race. Once her illicit romance was discovered, she escaped into the forbidden forest, where witches and darkness and evil flourish, only to return months later to give birth to her daughter and then die. That daughter, Immanuelle, lives with the burden of her mother’s sinful legacy, and while she follows all the Prophet’s rules and codes, she doubts their validity. One day, she enters the woods to catch an errant sheep and encounters strange women who gift her her mother’s diary. Within the diary, her mother has drawn strange, horrific creatures, accompanied by a prophecy: Four phases will herald the apocalypse — blood, blight, darkness, and slaughter. By visiting the woods, Immanuelle has possibly initiated the foretold apocalypse.
Length: 12 hours, 53 minutes
Bookseller recommendation: "I have an abiding fondness for kooky premises executed well, and Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids is as kooky as they come. In 1977, the tween members of the Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their last case and went their separate ways. Now it's 1990 and the man they sent to jail has been paroled. These former detectives have unfinished business, so one of them resolves to get the gang back together to find out the dark truth behind that final case. Meddling Kids is a pop culture–savvy, uproarious romp but also an action-packed horror-thriller. Highly recommended for fans of Christopher Moore and Ernest Cline, or anyone seeking a little laughter, nostalgia, or escapism.” —Susan Tunis, BookShop West Portal