One of my very favorite genres is psychological thrillers. I love getting into a sweat-inducing, heart-racing story where everyone seems guilty and the stakes are so high I can’t put the book down for anything.
But more often then not, thrillers fall short—the characters are one-dimensional, the story lines are boring, or the ending is too predictable.
Yet sometimes….sometimes you find the perfect thriller; one with good characters, an enticing plot, and an unexpected ending—nowthat’s magic.
Here are 18 thrillers that are so good and creepy, they’ll chill you right to the bone.
Just a heads up, this post contains affiliate links—that means I get a small commission of any sales made from the links below, but the price is the same for you whether you purchase via my link or directly from Amazon 🙂
Author: Colleen Hoover
Summary: In Verity, Lowen, a struggling writer not sure how she’s going to get next month’s rent, is contacted for a new assignment—to finish Verity Crawford’s world-renown series.
Verity, the world-famous author of more than a handful of bestsellers, was in a terrible accident and can no longer write.
Lowen accepts the job to finish the series, but soon realizes she’s in over her head. She can’t shake the feeling that Verity’s luminous home—the one where Verity’s handsome husband Jeremy, their child, and the now-crippled author are—is a place she shouldn’t be.
During a moment of vulnerability, Jeremey shared the terrible accidents that had happened to the family—first the untimely passing of their twin daughters, both at different times, and now Verity’s horrible car wreck.
But as Lowen is doing research for the upcoming books, she stumbles across the manuscript of Verity’s autobiography. In it, she discovers things she wish she hadn’t. And now can’t help but see Verity as perhaps the darkest villain of all.
2. The Silent Patient
Author: Alex Michaelides
Summary: The Silent Patient is the story of a woman, Alicia, who’s been condemned to a mental institution for tying her husband to a chair and shooting him five times in the face.
However, no one is quite sure what the exact story is because Alicia hasn’t spoken a word since the crime happened.
Thankfully, Alicia has a dedicated therapist, Theo, ready to take on the challenge—and danger—of trying to heal her. Theo invests in Alicia deeply, examining his own life and flaws as he tries to get Alicia to open up about hers.
But Theo quickly crosses the barrier between patient and caregiver, diving way deeper into Alicia’s life than is healthy.
3. The Wife Between Us
Author: Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Summary: The Wife Between Us is told from both Nellie and Vanessa—two vastly different woman involved with the same man.
Nellie is a young preschool teacher who’s nervous about her upcoming wedding.
Vanessa is a middle-aged personal stylist who’s determined to stop the wedding.
Even though they have nothing in common—in fact, their agendas seem to be the antithesis of each others’—their story lines merge and twist in a way that will make you binge from the first page.
4. Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Summary: In Sharp Objects, reporter Camille Preaker has been able to put her past behind her (almost) until she’s sent on a project that takes her right back to her haunting home town to investigate the serial murders of two young girls.
As she dives deeper into the murders, her personal demons arise, leading her farther and farther into her tormented mind.
This book is a beyond chilling page-turner that will keep you guessing until the literal last page. Filled with complex and interesting characters, an engrossing story line, and expertly crafted twists, you won’t be able to put this one down.
5. We Were Liars
Author: e. Lockhart
Summary: We Were Liars is the story of Cady, a very sad and damaged girl. She’s also very sick, forced to stay home, bedridden and in the dark, in order to deal with the debilitating headaches she’s been getting since that summer.
The story shuffles back and forth between Cady’s present day and a past summer spent in the Northeast with her family a few years before. Cady no longer partakes in her family’s decadent summers spent on their private island, her grandfather, her mother, and both of her aunts each with their own mansions.
As Cady’s story of that summer is told, we learn of her love for her cousins and a close family friend, the group deemed the “The Liars”.
During that summer, the Liars devise a plan to break down the grand rule of Cady’s grandfather. Except, the plan doesn’t go anything like they hoped. And worst of all—Cady can’t remember any of it.
6. The Woman in the Window
Author: A.J. Finn
Summary: In The Woman in the Window, Anna Fox is an agoraphobe, unable to leave her house due to debilitating fear and anxiety of open places.
But Anna makes the best of her shut-in status. She drinks wine, reads books, is active in online chatrooms, watches movies, and spies on her neighbors, which has turned into her favorite pasttime.
But one day, she sees something she shouldn’t. And worse than that, she can’t do anything about it. As she starts to look deeper into the horrible crime she witnessed, she begins to doubt herself, thinking maybe nothing really happened after all and it was just the wine and the paranoia talking.
7. Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Summary: In Gone Girl, Amy Dunne has gone missing. As the police investigation progresses, it becomes more and more evident that her husband, Nick Dunne, may have had a large part in her disappearance.
The story is told from alternating perspectives—Nick’s present day account and Amy’s diary chronicling the year leading up to her disappearance.
Getting a glimpse into Amy’s diary lets us fall in love with her sweetness, simple naivety, and humor. But the Amy we think we know soon becomes much more complex than we could have ever anticipated.
8. The Last Mrs. Parrish
Author: Liv Constantine
Summary: In The Last Mrs. Parrish, Amber is not happy with her current state of affairs. Luckily for her, she has the perfect plan—and the prowess, endurance, and cunningness to bring it to fruition.
Her plan revolves around Jackson Parrish, the extremely rich and handsome man who’s the solution to all her problems. She need only convince him she’d be the perfect wife for him. There’s only one issue—she has to get rid of his current wife.
Even though Amber is sharp and organized, it’s not enough to protect her against the true reality that’s buried beneath the glamour and riches she so desperately craves.
9. Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Summary: In Dark Places, Libby Day is still reeling the horrendous murders of her mother and two sisters. It’s been twenty five years, but that infamous night still haunts her.
After the murder happened, seven-year-old Libby testified against her brother Ben, the only other family member to have survived that night.
But now, The Kill Club, a secret society that investigates unsolved murders, has contacted Libby, begging her to share insight of that night. Motivated solely by desperation and the promise of financial gain, Libby meets with them. But it turns out, they have more to share with her than she’d anticipated.
Fueled with new resolve and knowledge—and doubt—Libby begins to question the verdict that her brother killed her family as she starts to think that maybe a horrible mistake had been made.
10. The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas
Summary: In The Cheerleaders, a series of tragic events—all in the same month and on the same street—takes the lives of five cheerleaders. However, there’s no clear understanding of what actually caused their deaths.
Now, five years laters, Monica is searching for justice for her sister, one of the cheerleaders who died. She starts to suspect the way the stories are portrayed are not how they actually occurred. She takes on the almost impossible task of figuring out what happened all those years before, losing herself in the search.
11. The Night Olivia Fell
Author: Christina McDonald
Summary: In The Night Olivia Fell, Abi, Olivia’s mother, rushes to the hospital to find her seventeen-year-old-daughter brain dead and hooked to life support after falling from a bridge earlier that night.
Unable to process the news, Abi is pushed into deeper shock when the doctor informs her that Olivia can’t be taken off life support—it’s illegal to do so when the patient is pregnant.
Even though the doctors are painting the fall as an accident, Abi is certain her perfect, rule-abiding daughter was the victim of a horrible crime. Now, it’s up to Abi to unravel the pieces of the past 6 months and figure out who was after her daughter.
As she learns the details of her daughter’s last good days, she also learns Olivia was not the good girl she seemed to be.
12. The Other Woman
Author: Sandie Jones
Summary: The Other Woman follows Emily and her budding relationship with the seemingly perfect man, Adam.
Everything about their relationship seems promising, until Emily meets Adam’s mother, Pammie. Pammie is needy, hyperbolic, and sometimes straightout conniving. But Emily believes Adam is worth the trouble, so she sets her mind on sticking it out, regardless of how vicious she must get towards Adam’s mother. But Pammie is not going down without a fight.
In addition to Pammie’s constant fight to be Adam’s #1 woman in his life, Emily has to deal with the possibility that Pammie might be dangerous in addition to plain obnoxious. As Emily gets closer to Adam—soon becoming his bride-to-be—Pammie gets more and more insufferable and more and more suspicious.
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Summary: You is the story of Joe and his (extremely) unhealthy obsession with a girl he’s only had a short, one-off encounter with.
Joe is a stalker and a certifiable psychopath—complete with standing outside her window at all hours of the day in various costumes so he won’t be recognized—yet, his justification of his illegal and insane actions are told in a way that almost makes sense. While he is clearly dangerous and creepy, he is also an extremely endearing character.
14. Bad Girls with Perfect Faces
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Summary: In Bad Girls with Perfect Faces, Sasha’s entire world seems to collapse when her best friend Xavier gets back with his ex, Ivy—the most dishonest and horrible person in existence.
Sasha knows Ivy isn’t good for Xavier, but he’s too head-over-heels to listen. Instead of talking to him directly, Sasha creates a fake Instagram account as a boy named “Jake” to try and woo Ivy and thus prove to Xavier she’s a cheat.
But Sasha’s plan works too well. Ivy falls in love with Sasha’s fake persona. It all seems pretty innocent until Ivy wants to meet up, and Sasha—seeing her chance to get rid of Ivy once and for all—agrees.
15. Beware That Girl
Author: Teresa TotenG
Summary: In Beware that Girl, Kate is determined to climb her way to the very top. She knows exactly how to fake it in order to fit into the world of the perfect NYC elite. She’s just missing one thing—a financial source.
Kate finds potential in Olivia, one of her classmates at the Upper East Side private school they attend. Knowing exactly what to say and do in order to get Olivia eating out of the palm of her hand, Kate is soon enjoying her luxurious new setup in a swank Manhattan penthouse after Olivia—and Olivia’s father—invites her to move in.
But as smart and cunning as Kate is, it’s not enough to stand against the creepy and overbearing power of their new teacher, Mr. Redkin. Olivia falls head-over-heels for him, soon finding out he’s not as charming as he pretended to be.
Kate has a lot on her plate, and now she has to add fighting off psychopaths to the mix.
16. Luckiest Girl Alive
Author: Jessica Knoll
Summary: Luckiest Girl Alive is the story of Ani, a girl that seemingly has it all. She’s worked her entire life to get to where she is as a successful, repsected, glamorous magazine editor in New York City.
Even though she’s getting married to the man of her dreams, she can’t help but be distracted—the anniversary of a past tragedy is approaching, an event that happened years ago when she was in high school.
Ani has been quiet about it, working hard to bury it so no one in her current life will ever know. But, her secret can no longer be kept. And she’s not sure what will happen once it’s been revealed.
17. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Summary: In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, disgraced journalist Mikael is contacted about a strange assignment—to look into the disappearance of the wealthy magnate Henrik Vanger’s niece.
As Mikael begins his work, moving to the remote island where the entire Vanger family lives, his path crosses with Lisbeth, a very strange, yet extremely talented savant.
As they investiage what might have happened to the missing girl, they dig up more than they’d been prepared for, realizing that the Vanger family is capable of truly heinous acts.
18. In the Woods
Author: Tana French
Summary: In In the Woods, a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in a dark woods in Dublin.
Rob Ryan, the detective on the case, has an eery relationship with the current murder—twenty years before, three children disappeared in those same woods. Only one was found, clutching a tree, shoes filled with blood, and having no memory of the past hours. That one kid was Rob.
Now, Rob must wrestle with his horrifying past as he dives into the horror of the present in order to find out who killed the girl.
What are your favorite bone-chilling thrillers? Share them in the comments below!