Stephen King is one of the most prolific authors of our time. He’s written over 60 novels and novellas, over 200 short stories, and a handful of nonfiction books. They’ve been adapted into movies, television series, and even have been adapted to the stage. And that kind of success breeds more success.
So, it makes sense that when it came time to record an audiobook, a wide array of incredibly talented actors and narrators would line up to bring these popular stories and characters to life. From Michael C. Hall voicing the haunting grief of a distraught father to the Earphones Award-winning Will Patton bringing an entire town to life, here are 14 of the best Stephen King audiobooks.
Pet Sematary, audiobook read by Michael C. Hall
After listening to this gruesome story, it’s no wonder they chose the Dexter actor to bring this story to life. He reads the novel with a chilling edge, making a scary book absolutely terrifying to listen to. The descent into madness in the head of a grief-stricken man is made all the more real with his narration, making this one of the best novels to listen to.
It, audiobook read by Stephen Weber
Stephen Weber uses his extensive stage and television experience to deliver an unforgettable performance. Each voice is unique, each impression vivid, exhibiting a wide range of emotions that vary from disturbing to heart-wrenching in equal measure. It’s a disturbing performance that perfectly captures this ominous novel.
The Outsider, audiobook read by Will Patton
It takes a skilled voice to capture the uncertainty King weaves in this suspenseful story. The talented Will Patton brings each character to life, voicing their conflicting thoughts and emotions in a way that makes this feel like you’re not listening to one narrator, but many. The result is so stunning, AudioFile awarded Patton the Earphones Award for his performance.
Misery, audiobook read by Lindsay Crouse
Annie Wilkes is one of the most chilling characters King has ever created. She isn’t a supernatural monster, but it’s her apparent normalcy that makes her so terrifying. Narrator Lindsay Crouse navigates the intense duality warring between Wilkes and the author she holds hostage in a command performance, highlighting the tension and strain in every escalating moment.
Carrie, audiobook read by Sissy Spacek
King’s first novel deserves nothing but an incredibly special experience, and there’s no one better to deliver it than the actress who brought this iconic character to life. Sissy Spacek understands Carrie on a level possibly only rivaled by King himself. She taps into her original performance, creating a horrific and emotional narration that is incredibly memorable.
Skeleton Crew, audiobook read by Various Narrators
With every story narrated by an incredible talented cast, Skeleton Crew is an easy listen. The individual voices delineate the transition from story to story, adding unique elements to each one. From stars like Matthew Broderick, Paul Giamatti, and Michael C. Hall, to familiar narrators like Will Patton and King himself, Skeleton Crew is perfect for anyone who wants bite-size horror that they can easily digest.
Needful Things, audiobook read by Stephen King
It doesn’t get much better than the King of Horror narrating this masterful novel. Set in the iconic Castle Rock, where so much has gone wrong, only King can give this reading the nuance and attention to detail it deserves—he created it, after all. Though there are many books King either narrates by himself or with others, Needful Things is not just one of the highest rated, but the story simply embodies all the best elements of a classic King book.
Lisey’s Story, audiobook read by Mare Winningham
With four years under her belt with American Horror Story, there is no one better to narrate this psychological and dangerous story than Academy Award-nominated Mare Winningham. Her performance is nothing short of chilling, complex, and utterly horrifying, which given the intimate nature of this novel, is absolutely perfect.
11/22/63, audiobook read by Craig Wasson
Going back in time over and over would be a strain on anyone. Particularly when you’re desperately trying to avoid a terrible event that changed everything. Craig Wasson not only voices the various accents across the country, he delivers the shift from the wondrous discovery of an alternate timeline to the chaotic escalation of everything going wrong with controlled nuance that pulls you to the edge of your seat and doesn’t let go.
Dolores Claiborne, audiobook read by Francis Sternhagen
The talented and award-winning actress Francis Sternhagen draws us deep into Dolores Claiborne’s life, delivering what is in essence a monologue performance. But it isn’t boring. Or overwhelming. It’s a captivating and immersive narration of an incredibly intimate and emotionally fraught story that will stick with you long after the novel ends.
The Stand, audiobook read by Grover Gardner
Riveting even for people who hate reading. Nominated for the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1979. Even with the parts King has added over the years, the narrator weaves them into the performance seamlessly, drawing into this tense, post-apocalyptic world.
Under the Dome, audiobook read by Raúl Esparza
Under the Dome
Narrated with the skill of Tony Award-nominated stage and film actor, Raúl Esparza, the tension and chaos of the town’s impending doom is captured with nuanced detail. But depth and individualized attention given to each character creates a vivid atmosphere that is nothing short of engrossing to listen to.
The Shining, audiobook read by Campbell Scott
Though the narration starts dry, it serves as a catalyst to lull you in only to shock you when it changes. He differentiates between the character’s interior thoughts versus their external presence, which highlights the descent into madness in a very visceral way.
Joyland, audiobook read by Michael Kelly
No stranger to terrifying twists and turns, Michael Kelly takes his extensive acting experience to bring this haunting story to life. Kelly takes King’s command of quiet eeriness combined with joyful nostalgia to narrate the creepy imagery and horrifying turns of a summer vacation gone terribly wrong.
Featured photo: RUPAM DUTTA / Unsplash