Reading lists

Horror stories to listen to with the lights on

As the dark nights draw in, nothing beats a good old-fashioned horror story. From terrifying Japanese folklore to monster-sized classics, here’s five of our favourite audiobooks sure to haunt your waking hours.

Miranda Freeman and Donna Mackay
Frankenstein; The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde; Japanese Ghost Stories; The Turn of the Screw; The Woman in White

Japanese Ghost Stories

By Lafcadio Hearn (2019), narrated by Eleanor Matsuura

Narrated by The Walking Dead star Eleanor Matsuura (she plays Yumiko), this collection of supernatural stories draws on traditional Japanese folklore where the dead wreak havoc on the living, faceless spirits haunt lonely neighbourhoods and priests devour human flesh – all infused with memories from author Lafcadio Hearn’s own supposedly-haunted childhood.

The Woman in White

By Wilkie Collins (1859), narrated by Tim McInnerny

Widely considered to be one of the first mystery novels, this classic from 1859 opens with a young man giving directions to a distressed lady on a moonlit London road, only to later discover she is an escapee of an asylum. More of a detective novel than an out-and-out horror, The Woman In White is nevertheless a tense affair with elements of psychological realism narrated brilliantly here by actor Tim McInnerny, known for his work in Notting Hill and Blackadder.

The Turn of the Screw

By Henry James (1898), narrated by Tuppence Middleton

Something unsettling lurks in the country home at the heart of this 1898 novella, where an unnamed governess believes a malevolent presence is stalking the children in her care. But why are the two seemingly innocent orphans, Flora and Miles, so haunting? And is the hard-pressed governess all that she seems? Narrated by Downton Abbey star Tuppence Middleton, Henry James’ classic remains as puzzling as it is unnerving.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

By Robert Louis Stevenson (1886), narrated by Rory Kinnear

Read by Penny Dreadful’s Rory Kinnear, this is one of the literature’s all-time classic horrors, a Gothic masterpiece about a corrupt double life in which the eponymous Dr Jekyll unleashes his deepest cruelties on a mist-clad London under the guise of his alter-ego Mr Hyde. On the surface a simple tale of good and evil, read a little deeper and The Strange Case is actually a morality tale infused with the class struggle that plagued the era.


By Mary Shelley (1818), narrated by Colin Salmon

Written by Shelley when she was just 18-years-old, Frankenstein is arguably the most influential horror story of all time. Scientist Victor Frankenstein conducts unspeakable experiments in his lab, finally succeeding in creating ‘life’ with body parts plundered from graveyards. His ‘hideous progeny’ goes on to wreak havoc in Victor’s life, but only after he cruelly spurns him, leading to the question: who is the real monster? Brought to life by Colin Salmon, known for his starring roles in Resident Evil and Alien Vs Predator, Frankenstein remains a gripping and fearsome tale for the ages.

Discover fifty audiobooks read by some of the UK and Ireland’s best acting talent in the Penguin Classics Audiobook collection, out now.

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