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AUDIOBOOKS: Spooky tales

Let’s usher in the cooler weather with a spooky tale or three.

Let’s usher in the cooler weather with a spooky tale or three. Please remember that all titles are available from your local bookstore and library.

The Institute
Stephen King; read by Santino Fontana
Simon & Schuster Audioworks, 19 hours, 16 CDs, $49.99/ download, $34.99

The ever-prolific King has given us another entertaining scarefest. It may not be his most original, but it is creepy and delivered with great aplomb by Fontana, who manages different accents with ease and keeps the pace moving along in a story that is over-written (though not horribly so). The novel features a decades-long conspiracy in which children are turned into telekinetic monsters to be used as weapons. Luke, a scary smart preteen, is at the heart of this story. He may not be the most talented telepathically, but he can think rings around the mad scientists trying to use him. This is fun, but not what you would call deep. Grade: B-plus

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The Testaments
Margaret Atwood; read by Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mae Whitman, Derek Jacobi, Tantoo Cardinal and Atwood
Random House Audio, 13 hours and 30 minutes, 11 CDs, $45/ download, $31.50

Picking up about 15 years after the end of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” this incorporates elements from the TV series as well as the original material. It unwinds like a spy novel with scheming Aunt Lydia pulling all the strings and not necessarily in the direction you may think. This is very well-produced with top-notch narration from all involved. Especially compelling is the dry, astringent delivery from Dowd, who plays Aunt Lydia on the series from Hulu. There are three overlapping plot strands, with Lydia’s being the most interesting, though baby Nicole, now a teenager, also finds her way into and out of Gilead. Grade: A

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The Whisper Man
Alex North; read by Christopher Eccleston
Macmillan Audio, nine hours and 30 minutes, eight CDs, $39.99/ download, $27.99

A police procedural with a supernatural twist, this is told in alternating points of view that work very well in the capable hands of narrator Eccleston. Jake Kennedy’s young life is marred by both his mother’s death and an uncanny ability to talk to people who don’t seem to be there or are even alive. The creepster in the title is a scary dude who whispers in windows until he worms his way into a child’s home. Eccleston does not alter his voice for different characters, but does an exemplary job of delivering the more chilling aspects of the story. This does not earn points for originality, but is a solid and convincing thriller that will hold your attention. Grade: B-plus