Need a bit of horrifying trauma in your audiobook diet? Try exposing your mind to Stephen King. The novelist has tons of audiobooks out there on Audible and Brilliance Audio that you’ll be paralyzed into indecision.
Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down to our top 10 picks. In no particular order, here are the best Stephen King audiobooks that’ll leave you glued to your earphones!
#10. The Institute
Nothing beats a classic. However, when it comes to the King of the macabre, any release is worth a read — or listen.
The Institute may be to your liking if you’re into movies like the X-Men. It’s got some of the same elements — a group of young people with superhuman abilities unlucky enough to be guinea pigs.
These gifted children are kept at an institute funded and founded to study them and their abilities. For 12-year old Luke Elis, staying at the Institute had gone from being a stay at a five-star hotel to a tough hard sleep under the local bridge.
With treatment becoming unbearable, Luke Elis plans his escape. It’s the classic great escape plot with superpowers and excellent narration thrown in the mix.
Many are calling The Institute one of the best Stephen King audiobooks to date. Narrated by Fontana, the Institute is available on Audible and will leave you on the edge of your seat.
#9. Dark Tower I
The Dark Tower series actually consists of eight books. But, if you’re diving into the Stephen King novel series for the first time, what better place to start than the first? The first part of the Dark Tower series will set you up for the next seven Stephen King novels in the series.
Dark Tower I is narrated by George Guidall. Dark Tower essentially falls under the horror genre. Nonetheless, the series is a smorgasbord of different genres — ranging from the horror to science fiction to classic western.
The story follows the exploits of the Last Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead. Dark Tower is about the lead character’s journey towards a mysterious tower. Adding to the sense of mystery surrounding the story is the unclear purpose of the character’s trip.
With numerous elements unclear from the very beginning, Dark Tower I exemplifies Stephen King’s skills with McGuffins. Penned in the author’s signature ominousness, Dark Tower I is an enjoyable hit especially in its audio version.
#8. Salem’s Lot
You’ll get more than your fair share of gasps and palpitations with Salem’s Lot. Did the printed version have this effect on you? If so, the audio version narrated by Ron McLarty will multiply the story’s effect by a factor of 10. With a mixture of mystery and horror genres, King will lead you through a torturous tour of this small town.
Oh, and audiobook fans will get a kick out of this. Parts of the Salem’s Lot audiobook receive the voice of none other than the king of horror fiction himself. That’s right. Stephen King lends his voice to the audiobook as well.
Salem’s Lot follows the story of Ben Mears, a Maine-born author who decided to return to his hometown. Once there, Mears recollects his past. Alongside his bouts with nostalgia is a mysterious illness that leads to the disappearance of many of the town’s residents.
Salem’s Lot has all the elements of a Stephen King thriller. At its core is a commentary about the culture of small towns prevalent in 20th-century America which is a tale only a Stephen King audiobook could tell.
With depth like this, don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve become a resident of Salem’s Lot yourself.
#7. The Man in the Black Suit
The Man in the Black Suit is a short story by American author, Stephen King. Sure, it may not have gotten much fanfare during its printed heyday. Yet, it’s making a serious comeback with the audio version.
Narrated by John Cullum, The Man in the Black Suit is a collection of short stories. Each story is a retrospective recollection of the protagonist. The protagonist, Gary, is now an elderly man sharing what happened to him in one summer evening of 1914.
He recounts his encounter with a gentleman he met while fishing. The gentleman dressed in black tells the young Gary terrible things like the death of his mother. Threatened by the encounter, Gary escapes and a saga of the unexpected unfolds.
The Man in the Black Suit in audio format is a haunting listen for any would-be audiobook listener. The audiobook has garnered rave reviews on Audible for its thrilling narration and faithful portrayal of the protagonist’s persona.
John Callum’s vocal work in the audiobook adds to the haunting effect of this short story anthology by Stephen King.
#6. The Shining
The seasoned Campbell Scott shines in his narration of The Shining. The Stephen King classic in audio has garnered numerous five-star ratings on Audible. It’s one of the platform’s highest-rated audiobooks by the author.
The Shining has all the elements of a Stephen King thriller. Set in a hotel somewhere in the Colorado Rockies, The Shining is a story about a caretaker (Jack) and his son (Danny). The son has a gift — if you can call it that.
Born with the ability to tap into the hotel’s less-than-five-star past, Danny tries to rescue his father. The father has fallen prey to whatever evil the hotel has. How bad is the evil that possesses the hotel? Enough to ensure that once you check-in, you’ll be hard-pressed to check-out.
As a Stephen King classic, The Shining will leave you on the edge of your couch. And, notice we said couch and not chair. The story along with Campbell Scott’s vocal work will have you leaping out of where you’re sitting with each utterance.
The Shining is available as a series. You can get all parts of the Shining series on Audible and Brilliance Audio.
#5. Doctor Sleep
Now that you’ve survived The Shining, allow us the pleasure of congratulating you.
We don’t want to have to say “spoiler alert”. But, we’re sure that you may have found a few cliffhanger opportunities at the end of The Shining.
Doctor Sleep is the sequel to the Stephen King classic. In Doctor Sleep, Danny has now grown into a middle-aged man. Unfortunately, his rescue duties didn’t stop once he hit adulthood.
In Doctor Sleep, Danny must now protect a young girl from the malevolent intentions of paranormal killers. A group of immortal paranormals known as The True Knot. The suspense climbs as you listen to this sequel, as many an audiobook listener will see.
If the idea of suspense doesn’t get your mouth watering at giving Doctor sleep a listen, maybe this will. Doctor Sleep is narrated by award-winning Will Patton and was an Audie Award Nominee for Solo Narration.
#4. Needful Things
Are you in for a deal-with-the-devil type of scenario? Bestselling author Stephen King delivers his iteration of this concept in Needful Things.
Published sometime in 1991, Needful Things is about Leland Grunt, the owner of an eponymous little shop in Castle Rock.
Think of the shop as a magical genie. It’s got everything. It may sound like a cliche, but we mean it in the literal sense. All that is required is the patrons perform a special “task” in return for the granting of their petitions.
The deeds take the form of seemingly innocent pranks played on anyone in Castle Rock. As time passes, these seemingly innocuous pranks take on a life of their own, leading to the population’s violent tendencies.
Needful Things has long been dubbed one of the best Stephen King books. The version available on Audible is narrated by the author himself.
If that doesn’t peak your need for the horrifying, we don’t know what will!
#3. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
It isn’t always about gloom, doom, and the macabre when it comes to Stephen King.
The popular 1994 film iteration starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins is the product of Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was the inspiration for the 1994 film. The audio version receives its voice from the one and only, Frank Muller.
The story portrays the classic theme of unjust imprisonment. Stephen King caps off the novella in a way that leaves most readers (and in our case, listeners) satisfied.
#2. Green Mile
Here’s another Stephen King classic that made it to the big screen. Being the brainchild of Stephen King, it is now available in audiobook format. Like Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, you have Frank Muller to thank for the excellent vocals in the audiobook.
The Green Mile is a story told through the eyes of the protagonist, Paul Edgecombe. In the movie adaptation of the novel series, Paul Edgecombe was played by Tom Hanks.
During his time as a death row supervisor, he meets a convict, John Coffey, a man gifted with extraordinary abilities. Executed soon after, Edgecombe ponders the true meaning of justice.
#1. Pet Sematary
You know a story is scary when the author confesses to fear of it. This is exactly the effect Pet Sematary had on Stephen King when he wrote it.
Reading it, you experience an ominous eariness with each page. Listen to the narrated version by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, and you won’t want to switch the lights off.
When the Creed family settles in Ludlow, Maine they don’t realize that lurks in the woods behind their house—the pet cemetery where all the children have buried their beloved pets. What possible danger could this cause? They’ll soon discover as a series of horrific events unfold.
Pet Sematary is, in a way, like the story of Lazarus. However, because it’s the product of the mind of Stephen King, you know it’ll be truly horrifying.
Pick One, Listen, and Get Scared!
There you have it! You just read our top 10 Stephen King audiobooks!
We hope you enjoyed our list. In the meantime, listen to any one of these and experience the brilliant imagination of one of America’s most prolific horror authors!