We don’t really have seasons in Singapore but I’ve heard that autumn is in full swing in certain places, so I hope you all have your cosy blankets, pumpkin spice lattes and warm socks ready. I’m sure you have also prepared a reading list or checked Netflix lineup for those cold-weather evenings.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a bookish, stay-at-home type, therefore cold and rainy days never bothered me. Unsurprisingly, when my primary school teacher introduced me to the local library, I got hooked immediately. I can still remember the sense of freedom that place gave me; the idea that I could choose my own reading materials was exhilarating. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been surrounded by books, but as a seven-year-old I seldom had any say in my parents’ literary choices. I soon became a dedicated bookworm and rarely went home after classes without making a stop at the library. Being an obedient child, I always returned with at least one novel by a school-appropriate author, such as Astrid Lindgren, Lucy Maud Montgomery and Mark Twain… but the fact is that I secretely craved horror. And when it came to kids’ horror, NOTHING gave me more pleasure than a new novel by R. L. Stine, full of teen drama and gruesome, bloody murder.
I’ve recently come across this hilarious blog doing recaps of the Fear Street series and it gave me all the feels. I mean, come on, these novels couldn’t be more perfect even if they tried:
Twenty years and one diploma in American Literature later, I abandoned novels for non-fiction and popular science books, but my penchant for everything spooky holds strong. Hence, my utter fascination with horror fiction podcasts. Paradoxically, I’m a scaredy-cat who can only listen to those shows during the day, but they are so worth it. Because the Halloween season is here, I thought I could share some of my favourites with you.
My podcast picks for Halloween
Top stories from the NoSleep subreddit, turned into beautifully produced, thrilling audio drama. A brilliant ensemble of voice actors, climatic music, and some of the scariest horror stories out there… what’s not to like? You can listen to hour-long episodes for free or support the production by buying a Season Pass and getting access to extra scariness.
Where should you start? I’d recommend Episode 22 of the Season 7, Rona Vaselaar’s story “Down in the Library Basement” in particular. Rona was kind enough to do a special Halloween interview with me and it will appear on the blog this Friday!
Technically, this is not fiction but rather a disciplined study of folk tales, myths and legends. Author Aaron Mahnke, the host of this amazing show, is an excellent storyteller who never fails to send shivers down my spine. His well-researched, deeply moving tales bring forward the world of superstition, prejudice and fear.
Where should you start? I’d recommend Episode 11: Black Stockings.
Call me naïve but after listening to the first episode I immediately went online to double-check that this story was indeed fiction. I’ve since listened to all episodes of this show about three times and I’m still deeply under its spell.
Where should you start? Episode 1: What We Know (just scroll down to the bottom of the page)
4. The Black Tapes and 5. its sister show, Tanis
One of my most cherished guilty pleasures is jumping from one disturbing Wikipedia article to another and chasing creepypastas, so when I first discovered The Black Tapes, I binge-listened for days. Both shows have already wrapped up their second seasons, so there’s plenty of episodes for you to listen to.
Where should you start? Definitely from the beginning: Episode 101: A Tale of Two Tapes. Part 1. and Episode 101: Seeking Tanis, Runner Available.
6. Archive 81
This found-footage show is truly a gem. Likeable, relatable main character, good writing, short-but-sweet episodes. Season One has ended but if you feel like you’d like to hear more from its creators, check out their new post-apocalyptic show The Deep Vault.
Where should you start? Episode 1: A Body In A New Place (just scroll down to the bottom of the page)
This serialised docudrama, already in it’s second season, follows one man’s quest to solve the mystery behind his own kidnapping. The pace of this show is pretty slow, but there’s undeniable tension in each episode.
Where should you start? Episode 01: Homecoming (just scroll to the bottom of the page)
I’ll finish this list with something lighter. If you liked Tom B. Stone’s Graveyard School series as a kid and were looking for something with a similar vibe, you’ll appreciate the absurd, dark humour of this quirky show.
Where should you start? Each episode of Uncanny County tells a separate story so you can start wherever you want, but I’d recommend Episode 4: Coulrophobia because CLOWNS!