The Night a Classic Ghost Story Was Born

Robin Rounds Up Frankenstein

FRANKENSTEIN was the result of a challenge among a group of friends to come up with a new ghost story. In 1816 on a holiday in Italy with friends, Percy Bysshe Shelley, his 18-year-old fiancee Mary, and Lord Byron shared stories, and Byron made the challenge. Mary Shelley’s resulting novel is still a catalyst for writers 200 years later. As an audiobook, the story of Frankenstein makes terrific listening—in both classic and newly imagined versions.

Frankenstein
Frankenstein

Whose voice do you imagine telling the tale of Frankenstein? You can choose from A-List British actors Dan Stevens, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi—each actor’s voice is so distinctive and recognizable, yet each one approaches the story quite differently emotionally. Also of note, a release last year with an Earphones Award-winning performance by Clive Hayward. Our own audiobook stars Simon Vance and George Guidall also have had a go with performances of FRANKENSTEIN. Any of these are fabulous audiobooks. I found that listening to the entire novel gave me a much better appreciation of its sustained impact.

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
In The Shadow of Frankenstein

New this fall, a great performance by Katharine McEwan of THE DARK DESCENT OF ELIZABETH FRANKENSTEIN offers listeners a new twist with Kiersten White’s focus on Victor Frankenstein’s companion/bride Elizabeth. The female narrative voice, as well as a narration by a woman, gives this new entry in the genre a unique twist. I talked about the audiobook with Jo Reed this week on our podcast Behind the Mic—listen in! In AudioFile’s review of IN THE SHADOW OF FRANKENSTEIN: Tales of the Modern PrometheusBrian Price notes, “Mary Shelley’s novel has shaped and shaken the imaginations of writers, filmmakers, and audiences since its 1818 publication.” This Earphones Award-winning collection, which includes the original novel plus 24 short works from both contemporary and classic writers, may be “all things Frankenstein.” A lovely bonus to this collection is the introduction by Neil Gaiman.

My post today was originally going to spring off of NPR’s 2018 summer reader poll to assemble 100 Favorite Horror Stories, “Click If You Dare.” The top choice in the Blood Roots category of classics was FRANKENSTEIN. I guess I’ll have to dig deeper into the list, which includes these other intriguing categories: The Fear in Our Stars, Horribly Ever After, Scar Your Children, and Hell Is Other People.

Share some of your favorite audiobook horror classics with us!

Robin Whitten
Robin is the Founder & Editor of AudioFile Magazine. The AudioFile Blog is her newest project to offer new voices and recommendations for audiobooks.

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