Horror Fiction Podcasts! Creepy little stories delivered directly to our eager ears thanks to the many talented voice actors, producers and writers out there. Still, I don't think they get nearly enough love or appreciation so whether they be anthologies, ongoing episodic stories or otherwise, here are ten horror fiction podcasts that'll keep you up at night (they're addictive, trust me).
Keep in mind, these are officially labelled as 'podcasts' - audiobooks and similar media will be for another day.
WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE
Started in 2012, 'Welcome To Nightvale' is a great place to start if you're just getting into fiction-based podcasts. The narrative centres around the isolated desert town of 'Nightvale' and its local radio show that reports on all the strange (or rather, normal for Nightvale) occurrences of the town.
Possibly the best thing about this one is that you have the option of starting whenever or binging from episode one, whichever catches your fancy. Regardless, each episode is unique, disturbing and at times, even morbidly amusing with its weather, sports and traffic reports. The 'radio show' allows for a very immersive experience as the podcast is able to capture your attention and really bring you into the narrative. Although still 'scary' in theory, its humour and delivery make the podcast something that you can easily listen to any day regardless of your mood.
'Unwell' is a midwestern gothic mystery (love all three of those words) centred around Lillian Harper as she moves to the small town of Mt. Absalom, Ohio. There is tasked with taking care to take care of her injured but estranged mother, Dorothy (we already feel for her there). Yet, whilst inhabiting the family's boarding house, Lillian finds herself caught up in various conspiracies, ghosts and the boarding house's many strange residences.
Within minutes you are thrown into the mystery of the tiny town with an abundance of dark, unnerving secrets. The voice actors are very talented and effective in their ability to portray the personality of their respected characters while the overall production is impressive, to say the least. Overall, a definitely unnerving and addictive listening experience plus the podcast launched in February 2019, so you'll have plenty to binge.
'Mable' is a horror/weird fiction podcast with themes surrounding folklore. The narrative follows Anna Limon, an at-home caregiver who discovers that her elderly patient Sally Martin, her family and the house in which she inhabits, may not be as simple and innocent as she once assumed. Desperate for answers, Anna frantically reaches out to Mabel, Sally's estranged granddaughter who may hold the key to the horrifying truth.
The format used is very innovative as it is told in almost diary-form through a range of voice messages from Anna to Mabel concerning Sally. This opens the door to a library of questions such as 'why Anna is calling?', 'why Mabel is not answering?', and 'what is connecting these two women who have never met?' The strange and unnerving narrative continues as Anna's one-sided relationship with Mabel (like, seriously Anna, do you not see how creepy you sound?) and the haunting occurrences at Sally's house begin to unravel.
Another alluring aspect is that the podcast isn't too in your face. I could easily do some drawing or cooking while listening to this, although it does have its moments when it really grips you by the throat thanks to its dark, alluring narrative.
'Blackwood' follows a trio of teenagers as they begin to investigate 'The Bugman', a mythical monster that haunts the town of Blackwood. Yet, their naive and innocent investigation quickly takes a horrifying turn, leaving behind only the recorded tapes of their journey behind.
The story is told via voice recordings made by the teenagers as they start their 'investigation podcast', the recordings edited together by an unnamed narrator long after the events of the 'tragedy'. With a murky, innocent beginning and a snippet of what's to come, it's very easy to get wrapped up in this tale.
The voice actors are able to create some genuine chemistry amongst the unique characters, yet they are interrupted by the narrator who reminds us of the impending doom that will eventually come foe them. It's very much a podcast one can get lost in, very consuming and creepy to say the least.
THE MAGNUS ARCHIVES
This podcast is narrated by Jon Simms, the new head archivist at The Magnus Institute, a London-based organisation specialising in the paranormal. Each episode consists of Jon relaying the various records of The Magnus Institute, digging into the strange and horrific findings hidden amongst the archives. This combined with an ongoing mystery of the plot allows for a truly creepy and exciting ride.
The narrator is fantastically cynical and blunt with a personality that really makes the podcast unique. Plus, the story in itself makes for a consuming experience that will definitely keep you glued to your earphones. One can see why this podcast has gained such a cult following, it's only a shame I didn't jump on the bandwagon sooner.
ALICE ISN'T DEAD
Another one by Nightfall Productions! 'Alice Isn't Dead' follows a truck driver who through a range of audio diaries, records her nation-wide search for her missing wife, Alice. Yet, her search leads her down a dangerous road of strange towns, the supernatural and a conspiracy that extends far beyond a single missing woman.
The fact that our narrator addresses her diaries to 'Alice' makes this podcast all the more ominous, plus it comes across more natural as well since she's talking to her wife and not just a video recorder. I wasn't as intrigued by this one, although the relationship between Alice and the narrator was very interesting. Regardless, the premise and complex mystery is really something to get lost in if you need something to binge.
BLOOD ON THE DIGITAL PAGE
One of Morbidly Beautiful's many wonderful podcasts, 'Blood On The Digital Page' is an extension of the short fiction section their website. Narrated by Casey Chaplin, the podcast features the works of many established and up-and-coming writers. Each piece is unique and unnerving thanks to the storytelling talent of the writers and Chaplin's chilling narration, both of which make for a great listening experience.
THE WICKED LIBRARY
'The Wicked Library' is an award-winning anthology podcast that features both indie and bestselling authors with some of their notable contributors including Gwendoline Kiste, Sara Tantlinger, and more (check out the full list here).
Specialising in horror and speculative fiction, this podcast is a one-stop shop for some truly great stories from a diverse range of authors, combined with the talents of some truly amazing artists and composers (seriously, check out the contributor page). The production quality is also impressive, making for a great casual listen or for those die-hard fans who listen in for every episode.
CLAIRE L. SMITH is an Australian author, poet and filmmaker. Her debut gothic horror novella, HELENA is due for release via CLASH Books in October 2020. You can preorder it HERE.