Dark Listens for the Darkening Days
By Kathryn Alley, Cameron Phillips, Rose Cook and Nuria Berbel Torres
With the clocks turned back and the days getting shorter, we wanted to showcase our favourite dark and scary listens to keep you company this gloomy season.
Kathryn’s Pick: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, narrated by Louise Brealey and Jack Hawkins
The Silent Patient is the perfect blend of suspense and psychological thriller to listen to during these darkening days. The audiobook brilliantly combines the narration of Brealey and Hawkins to craft a compelling story from vastly different points of view.
Listeners follow Alicia Berenson in the fallout of having murdered her husband six years ago. Since the incident, Alicia has not spoken a word and her therapist is determined to discover why. Michaelides interweaves timelines masterfully as Alicia and her therapist unravel the motive for murder within a seemingly perfect life.
The Silent Patient will draw you in instantly, offering an introspective experience on the horrors of marriage and the mind, as well as a cathartic ending. This audiobook was truly captivating – a must-listen for fans of gripping, haunting thrillers.
Cameron’s Pick: The Paleblood Hunt by Redgrave, narrated by Jay Britton
Lovecraftian horror is one of the most difficult genres to pull off without sounding utterly incomprehensible. One of the few times it was done well is FromSoftware’s Bloodborne. A fan of the acclaimed video game, Redgrave decided to create a story in audiobook form. Based upon the established lore and his own summations, The Paleblood Hunt is an excellent exploration of Yharnam and its relationship with the "elder blood."
What makes Redgrave’s writing so compelling is his ability to transform an already challenging and sparse story into one flowing narrative. The story, based on FromSoftware’s existing tale, is one of blood, hunters, beasts and eldritch horrors. It is absolutely scintillating, enthralling and vague enough that it leaves plenty to the imagination.
Britton’s narration manages to capture the vivid mix of characters and personalities perfectly, such as the madness of Master Willem, the tragic Father Gascoigne, the stoicism of Eileen the Crow and crazed nurse Iosefka. This is not only a great Lovecraftian adaptation, but a great horror adaptation.
Rose’s Pick: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, narrated by Cynthia Erivo
“There are things in that wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will.”
The nameless narrator and her husband John have just moved into a beautiful old mansion for the summer. Suffering from what her husband terms “a temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency” after the birth of her child, she is prescribed rest and fresh air in the airy nursery at the top of the house.
Confined to this attic bedroom and kept apart from her baby, the woman records her thoughts in a diary. The lurid yellow wallpaper of the attic becomes her obsession, as she describes how it shifts and creeps in front of her eyes. As the figure of a woman appears in the paper, the narrator begins to strip it off the wall, revealing what really lies behind it.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a chilling short story that chronicles a woman’s struggle with post-natal depression and her eventual descent into insanity. First published in 1892, Perkins Gilman captures contemporary attitudes towards women and mental health through the woman’s increasingly disturbing entries. Cynthia Erivo’s powerful narration becomes more agitated as she captures the deterioration into madness. This is a story that must be listened to to be fully experienced.
Nuria’s Pick: The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, narrated by Joseph Thompson
This is a relatively short audiobook if you want a nice, quick listen. At just over four hours, it can keep you company on a late night drive or a couple of relaxing evenings at home. Bonus points if you do it home alone!
This classic ghost tale tells the story of a young governess who is made responsible for two children left in the care of their privileged uncle after their parents’ deaths. As we follow the young woman on her first job at this grand but forlorn estate, we feel a sense of uneasiness. Then, the governess starts to see unearthly beings – half-seen figures who gaze from towers afar, foul phantoms who seem to get closer and closer as the days pass. She begins to fear for the children’s safety, but there are more discoveries to be made about the lurking evil in the house.
This is one of the best spooky stories to listen to on dark days when only the rain breaks the silence. You can also find another wonderful narration by Emma Thompson, who uses her immense talent to really bring Henry James’ gothic ghost tale to life.