Thrilling Audiobooks Guaranteed to Keep You Up at Night

I’m joined by Sarah from Really Into This today and we’ve gathered a list of the most memorable and chilling audiobooks we’ve listened to. For several years, we’ve hosted a #FallIntoMyBacklist Challenge on social media that focuses on older books. Find more information on this years challenge here. Once fall hits, we love to read mostly backlist titles and sometimes that means listening to a creepy and atmospheric read. It’s something we look forward to every year and we hope you’ll join in!

If you’re new to audiobooks or just looking for a new way to listen we both love Libro.fm. They are a fantastic company that splits profits with local bookstores and you can even choose with indie bookstore to support! To join or just find out more check here.

SIX STORIES BY MATT WESOLOWSKI

Orenda Books has a knack for publishing unique, fresh books under the umbrella of crime fiction and once again, I’m completely blown away by one of their books. Six Stories is a wholly original, modern twist on a classic murder mystery. There are six distinct stories, six very easily distinguishable voices used in this podcast style book. Tom Jeffries was fifteen when he disappeared in 1996 and his body was found a year later. Twenty years later and Scott King, a podcast host decides to feature the story on his podcast.  What happened the night he disappeared? Why did it take a year for his body to be discovered? And most importantly, who killed him? 

The format of this book really made it standout from the crowd for me. I loved the conversational style it provided, it really felt like I was listening to a true crime podcast. Wesolowski did a phenomenal job of giving each character a clear, unique voice and I couldn’t help but think the audiobook version of this must be superb. As my husband isn’t a reader I’m thinking we need to listen to it together, but I digress. As each podcast comes to a close, more truth is revealed, but more questions also arise. Who is actually reliable and trustworthy? Seeing as how the events in question occurred twenty years ago, everyone’s recollections are hazy at best making it all the more complicated to put all the puzzle pieces together. Everyone interviewed by King is directly involved in the case and they all add a new twist to things, leaving you to draw your own conclusions as to what to believe, or not to believe. As the layers are slowly peeled back, secrets are unveiled that finally shed light on what truly happened. 

This was an unsettling read, one that makes you feel like evil is lurking just around the corner, that leaves a pit of uneasiness in your stomach. Scarclaw Fell was hauntingly atmospheric and a ideal setting for such a tragic event. The whole thing was brilliantly, cleverly executed and a highly immersive read. You could feel the chill in the air, hear the sounds of the forest, see glimpses of the unknown skulking about. The ending was utterly perfect, I really can’t find fault with any aspect of this one and I’m praying that Wesolowski is currently working on his next book.

ALL HER LITTLE SECRETS BY WANDA M. MORRIS

Well hello super impressive debut!! I love reading debut authors because you never quite know what to expect and the only thing better than reading a new author is being blown away by their first book. This one was good y’all, I think it will appeal to so many people because while it’s definitely a thriller it also has shades of a legal thriller and a hint of domestic suspense. It also explores race, sexism and being a woman in the workplace, it was so relevant and important and also totally entertaining, this one truly had it all. The less you know about this one the better off you are, just read this if you like fast paced and exciting thrillers that have depth. The narrator, Susan Dalian was also fantastic so I can highly recommend the audio as well but I’m sure it’s fantastic in any format.

NO ONE WILL MISS HER BY KAT ROSENFIELD

I think anyone who reads thrillers would agree that we’re constantly searching for a unique one that doesn’t feel stale, or like 76 other thrillers we’ve all seen before. I started this one a whim after I read this part of the synopsis 👉🏻 “A smart, witty, crackling novel of psychological suspense in which a girl from a hardscrabble small town meets a gorgeous Instagram influencer from the big city, with a murderous twist that will shock even the most savvy reader. “ Between influencer and shocking twist I was hooked. You guys, I would definitely have to agree because I haven’t been this surprised by a thriller for a long time.

I really don’t want to say much more about the plot that what I already shared, that’s really all you need to know in my opinion as far as details, but this was fantastic on audio. Three POV and three amazing narrators; Lizzie beyond the grave as this opens after she’s already been murdered, Adrienne the influencer who has rented out Lizzie’s lake house in the past and Detective Bird as he investigates the murder. This was highly atmospheric, had strong writing and pacing that was truly on point. It’s also just really clever and sharp. That’s all I’m gonna say, but again audio was 🔥🙌🏻 and this one is well worth a preorder.

THE WHISPER MAN BY ALEX NORTH

Amy: It’s not often that I’m seriously creeped out by a book, I read some dark stuff and it takes a lot to rattle me but this one seriously got under my skin! Full disclosure, I listened to on audio thanks to my friends at Libro.fm and I assume this enhanced my enjoyment because the narrator was amazing and so many parts of this was just downright creepy due to the chilling narration. I’m sure it’s just as good in print form, but if you’re an audio fan this is a must.

I’m not touching the plot at all because it was so wickedly brilliant you just have to experience it for yourself. While the creep factor is high, it’s not totally disturbing or traumatizing, more spooky and eerie than anything else. It’s also pretty fast paced and told from multiple points of view keeping things exciting and engaging throughout. I was immersed in the pages of this one from start to finish, and what an ending, that final line gave me actual chills! Highly recommended for thriller lovers, a super impressive debut for sure!

Sarah: First, I will include a trigger warning about imaginary friends. Next, The Whisper Man by Alex North centers around the death of children. Thankfully, the narrative is not gory and it’s certainly not glamorizing serial killers.

As soon as the story starts, I am instantly invested in what’s going on. Funny enough I read this over the weekend when I was camping in the dark woods. That environment made it all the more atmospheric for me.

The Whisper Man is creepy but not too scary. The novel is very well-written. It’s been a while since I’ve read suspense & I am so grateful for a reliable narrator. Seriously, I could jump up and scream! I love how there the past & the present come together. North builds the storylines expertly & both timelines intersect in a way that is so meaningful. The dual timelines add to the suspense. Also, I’m happy to say I have no trouble shifting gears between the timelines.

I don’t often say this about suspense books but I would re-read this one in a heartbeat. It’s easy to get lost in it and I loved all the dialogue from the POV of the child.

ARE YOU SLEEPING BY KATHLEEN BARBER

Amy: Well guys, it’s time for me to officially topple your summer reading list. Sorry, but I’m not sorry! (Not even a little bit, haha) Are You Sleeping is a perfect addition to your TBR, it’s compulsive, engrossing and highly addictive, I loved it!

Two things that always catch my eye in a thriller is sister or twin relationships and a cold case and this gem had both. Josie and Lanie have an extremely complex relationship and haven’t seen or talked to each other in ten years. Both were the kind of character that can frustrate the hell out of you on one page and then the next they’re tugging on your heartstrings. That sense of unease and uncertainty really added to this tale of lies and betrayals. The girls moved in with their Aunt A and cousin Ellen after their father was killed and I really liked Ellen. She’s kind of bossy and overbearing, but she has a huge heart and was super endearing. 

My favorite thing about this book was how engaging it was, there is something about Barber’s writing style that just hooked me. There is a great social media addition in the form of podcast excerpts, Reddit threads and updates from Twitter and Facebook feeds that added something really unique and current. If you’ve read Six Stories there is a similarity but not completely the same, this one easily stands on its own feet.

This was one of those reads where I kept thinking I had things all figured out and then Barber would throw in a new twist to shake things up. Ultimately, I did have some aspects worked out but it absolutely did not take away from my enjoyment of this highly entertaining read. This would be perfect for readers who don’t like graphic violence, it’s on the lighter side and has very few truly dark moments, but it’s still very compelling. Pack this one in your bag next time you’re going on vacation, I think it would be ideal! 

Sarah: The main character, Josie, hears that a podcast is looking into her father’s murder. It’s re-examining what Really happened the night of his death & it throws her for a loop. Josie has spent the last several years running from her family’s complicated history. She’s changed her last name, traveled around the world & tried to keep a low profile. Even her live-in boyfriend doesn’t know the truth about her family.

Of course, this is no ordinary murder case. What fun would that be? Her twin sister, Lanie, supposedly witnessed the murder & placed their young neighbor as the culprit.  He was sent to prison & he continues to maintain his innocence.  Soon after their father’s death, their mother ran away and joined a cult.  This unexplained act left the twins without parents.  Instead of the sisters turning towards one another for support, Lanie goes off the deep end & betrays Josie’s trust. All these years later, there is still a wedge between them. Josie gets word her mother died & she’s forced to travel back to her hometown. Here she will face everything she’s been avoiding. She does this while trying to evade the notoriety from the podcast, which is no easy feat.

Kathleen does a heck of a job depicting the anxiety & stress that is placed on Josie by forcing her to face what she has spent years running from – her family and its sordid history.  Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber is ripe with suspense, family secrets, misplaced trust & a longing for closure & understanding.  At the heart of the story are the questions of what Really happened that night? What did Lanie actually see?  Can Lanie or Josie be trusted?  Why did their mother leave them?

Something about this family & these characters is so relatable. I am a 48 Hours lover & reading this book from the view of the family changed my perception of how some of these murder stories can be exploited and/or open deep family wounds. Overall, this was an intriguing & satisfying read & I can’t wait to see what Kathleen does next.

INTENSITY BY DEAN KOONTZ

I started this one on a whim after listening to an episode of BookTalkEtc where Renee Itsbooktalk recommended it. It’s been years since I’ve read a DK book and after finishing this I remember why I used to enjoy his books so much!

This follows Chyna as she heads to visit her best friends family and on her first night there she can’t sleep. Her insomnia ends up saving her life because a madman enters the house and his only focus is on killing everyone inside 😮 That’s basically all you need to know because the whole book is one tense and deadly game as Chyna fights for her life. The title for this is so fitting, the intensity starts almost immediately and it never lets up. I know Renee flew through this one and so did I, it was shocking, addictive and truly gripping, definitely a wild ride and such a perfect fall read.

NUMBER ONE FAN BY MEG ELISON

I appreciate a thriller that doesn’t waste time and jumps straight into the action and this one did exactly that. The creep factor starts high and stays that way as some seriously disturbing shit happens to Eli while she is being held prisoner by her number one fan. SO creepy. There is a lot of on page descriptions of torture and most of it was hard to read, seriously parts scared me and I’m not easily spooked. But if you like the angle of a creepy stalker who is truly unhinged and getting a glimpse inside their head this was pretty good. I was unsettled the whole time and think if you’re in the mood for a dark and disturbing read this could be it.

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