The book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was released in 2012 to much acclaim. Just two years later it was adapted to film and before you knew it “girl” books (like “The Girl on the Train”) and “wife” books (like “The Wife Between Us”) became synonymous with the psychological thriller genre. By definition, psychological thrillers are not scary (that would be the “horror” genre), rather they are exciting narratives that focus as much on the motivations and thoughts of the characters as they do on the action. However, some psychological thrillers are frankly disturbing.
I have read scores of psychological thrillers and pretty much enjoy them on principle. However, every once in a while, I find a book that is just plain creepy. The characters are cruel, the themes are dark, and the endings are merciless. Mental illnesses in these books are co-opted as relentless forces of ill-will against others and the innocent rarely (if ever) receive justice. Sometimes when I finish a book I want to take a few moments of silence to bask in the warm feelings that the conclusion stirs within me. This is NOT the case for this specific subset of psychological thriller. I close these books feeling unsettled. My mind feels polluted without any further text to redeem these unresolved endings.
These books just ooze creepiness. So, in an attempt to warn (or entice) you, here is a brief selection (WITHOUT spoilers) of some of the most disturbing psychological thrillers that I have recently read:
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Worbel
Teaser: A mother-daughter bond like no other. Sickness makes the heart grow crueler.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Teaser: Let me take you to my place, to where it all began. Caution, this is NOT a love story.
Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent
Teaser: Three Irish brothers attend a funeral; one arrives in a coffin. Not a tear was shed.
My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
Teaser: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, you shall not….
The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher
Teaser: She overstayed her welcome. Now everyone will pay.
You have been warned….
P.S. Which books do you think should be added to the list, dear Reader??