The terrible treats to be found on Librivox

It’s a familiar horror trope. Whether its by searching in a old junk shop, a strange delivery to the doorstep, or deliberately opening a forbidden old grimoire, somehow or other, our protagonist gets there hands on a cache of lurid, dark tales, the details of which are then played out one by one for us the appreciative viewer.

A staple device of 80s anthology horror films, this cliched scenario was one I never expected to play out in real life. Until, that was, I discovered the veritable treasure trove of horror available for free, on Librivox.

For those who don’t know, Librivox is a site dependent upon volunteers, which aims to provide audiobook recordings of classic works that are considered to be in the public domain. These volunteers often read the complete work unabridged, so that we, the listeners, can enjoy them at bedtime, on journeys, or when we just feel like enjoying a classic novel or short story.

For a fan of horror, the site is an Aladdin’s cave of content. Virtually every classic horror story not written within the last fifty years (the cut off point for works to be considered ‘in the public domain’) has been recorded, often multiple times, by different readers. There are a number of ways to listen, from streaming directly from the site to downloading chapters via itunes and even subscribing to a whole novel or collection- for free.

Whilst the ‘public domain’ stipulation means that you won’t find the latest Stephen King novel  on here, all of the classic horror works you’ve heard so much about are here. From long established canonical classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, to more obscure classics such as Le Fanu’s Dracula precursor Carmilla or Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, all of which are read by dedicated volunteers keen to preserve these tales of terror for future generations.Oh, and did I mention it was free?

If listening to a full novel sounds like a bit much, bear in mind that there are also recordings of hundreds of classic short stories of terror- From  Edgar Allan Poe and E.T.A Hoffman to H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood- and if any of those names are unfamiliar to you, then I recommend that you log on right now. Turn the lights down, turn the volume up and prepare for a scare.

Eleanor Sciolistein