8 Modern Gothic Mysteries to Read Now
We'd probably all agree that it's more fun to be frightened by fictional horror than it is the real-life one we're living with in the White House every day. Our favorite gothic fiction is taut and well-constructed; the tension is drawn out over the length of the narrative making it much more terrifying than in-your-face blood, guts, and gore.
The best horror stories ratchet up that tension, they make you feel afraid but not so much that you want to stop turning the page. As Halloween grows closer, we've collected some of the best of these classic gothic tales, all written before and all written by women — the mistresses of thrills and chills. Before it was an Oscar-award-winning Alfred Hitchcock movie, "Rebecca" was a haunting gothic novel that made readers feel trapped in a hazy dream… or nightmare.
In the book, the mysterious Maximillian de Winter arrives back at his Manderly Estate with his much younger second and nameless wife — despite the fact that the eerie presence of his dead first wife, Rebecca, still hovers over the home. Her memory is kept alive by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs.
Danvers, who remains devoted to Rebecca, even in her death. The book is the perfect psychological thriller, and as Mrs. Danvers and the "Second Mrs. From the same pen that brought us "Rebecca" comes the tale of Rachel, a cunning black widow who may or may not have already killed her previous two husbands. Now a widowed countessa, Rachel arrives in Plymouth, England to stay with her cousin Philip — and things only get creepier from there.
This thriller is a quick read that will have you going back and forth as to whether or not Rachel is to be trusted until the very last page. This short story is a great introduction to the many ways men have you thinking that up is down, left is right, and that the mere existence of your vagina renders you unfit for life itself.
In the late 19th century, an unnamed woman finds herself confined to an attic nursery for the summer, instructed by her husband and male doctors not to over-exert herself. Bed rest is deemed the only cure for her "hysterical tendencies.
The events that take place at the Dragonwyck estate prove no exception to this rule. You can't read "The Lottery" today without immediately recognizing its influence on modern culture — threads of this short story carry through into everything from books like "The Hunger Games" to films like "The Purge.
See full terms and conditions and this month's choices. She long ago embraced the art of reading multiple books in a variety of genres at once, and is always eager to talk about them. You can find her at swoodswords. The more thrillers I read, the more I notice the truth about intrusions: the closer to home, the deeper the terror. As an observer, intrigue quickly follows: how might someone change their behavior, confront their fears when routines crumble?
The smallest deviation seems to pull events, motives, and reality into question, psychological underwire lacking a tangible source.
A coveted block of houses is the backdrop for this eerie thriller, where layers of past and present remain unseen. How long can secrets hide amongst family, neighbors?
Excerpts from police interviews throughout and a compelling prologue set the tone for a devastating conclusion. The scope of characters and motivations, including a pair of newlyweds struggling to find their footing, a well-respected teacher becoming suspiciously close with students, and a young boy compiling a detailed dossier on the community and spying on girls, grant this puzzle of a plot the pacing that both destroys your sleep and keeps the pages turning.
Maybe it doesn't surprise me that the strangest book I've read about motherhood is also the best, but it does thrill me. Picture a small town, a young girl left murdered in a cold park.
Reacting to her death is the boy who stalked her, the girl who wanted to be her, and the cop assigned to her case. Interchanging points of view kept me both alert and guessing while also giving the author a chance to prove her literary chops. The beautiful passages and the depth of the characters and their often-misunderstood natures culminate to make this a book I never wanted to end.
Plus, the covers for both the paperback and hardcover are gorgeous. Perfection: a dangerous term. A clause, a caveat, a hollow bar that tarnishes everything that falls below. While some of the mothers agree to help Winnie search, judgments from the wider community—thanks to the news and social media—add another layer of strain: what kind of mother loses her child? Meet Nikki Clements, who has a secret from everyone who thinks they know her well, including her children and her husband.
The title alone intrigued me, the indication of betrayal, of messiness, of regret and need. Assume nothing. Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors because of his unexpected twists, especially within the final pages. When he and his wife attempt to intervene, violence ensues, and signs indicate his family might not be all he believed it to be.
I immediately felt for these characters, and also appreciated the tie-in to an interesting topical angle involving technology gaining traction around the globe yes, I am purposefully keeping this vague—no spoilers!Patricia Highsmith was a master of macabre scenarios and the grand dame of the psychological thriller. Over the course of five novels, beginning with The Talented Mr.
Ripleyshe built a character who was both completely without a conscious and yet unnervingly sympathetic. The Talented Mr.ATMOSPHERIC GOTHIC HORROR READING MUSIC - H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe
Ripley is equal parts a subtle character study and an edge-of-your-seat exercise in sinister thrills. Add to cart. Gillian Flynn has made a name for herself with incredibly dark, twisting narratives centered on complex, seemingly unsympathetic female characters.
With Gone GirlFlynn brought readers deep inside a narrative hall of mirrors — a slow burn, noir-tinged maze built to keep the reader constantly off-balance. Throughout the pages of the novel, Bambara envelops readers into the mindset of a community turned upside down by violence and grief. In one of the most disturbing opening scenes in literature, two men are thrown together as part of a makeshift rescue team when a little boy is carried off in a runaway hot air balloon. But things only get more disturbing from there, when Jed becomes obsessed with Joe, his fellow rescuer.
This page-turner signifies the moment when Koontz announced himself to the mainstream as an indisputable authority on the art of building suspense. Gritty, grim, and notably haunting, Eileen holds a mirror up to the darkness that exists inside of each of us and does so without apology.
As beautiful as it is alarming, this novel is more than a thriller. As she tries to heal after their relationship dissolves, Rachel manages to sift through her thoughts and fears during her daily commute via train from Oxfordshire to London. Each day during the trek, the train passes the house she used to live in with her ex.
In attempts to distract herself from the reality of their separation, Rachel shifts her attention to a home near her former home, occupied by a man and a woman who she imagines are happy and deeply in love.
Armed with clues to where her sister might be, Ava embarks on a journey that will change her life. A bestseller in its day and beyond, spawning a film adaptation by none other than the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca takes inspiration from one of the greatest novels in the English language, Jane Eyre. A nameless narrator has married a European playboy and moved into his vast manse. But she finds herself haunted by the memory of his dead wife, Rebecca, and her still very loyal servant, Mrs.
When considering the thriller as literature, The Big Sleep should be one of your first destinations. In the Woods introduced readers to the detectives of the Dublin Murder Squad, as well as the nuanced and emotionally resonant thrills of Tana French. Conan Doyle had basically abandoned the character of Sherlock Holmes until his reappearance in The Hound of the Baskervillesfirst serialized in The novel and Holmes himself were both so popular with readers that Conan Doyle was compelled to bring him back from the dead.
The novel has spawned countless television, film, and radio adaptations, and even its own psychological term, the Baskerville effect: the belief that there is an increased number of deaths from cardiac arrest on days of the month considered to be unlucky.
The wrong-man thriller is a reliable source of narrative tension across a wide variety of storytelling mediums. Hughes delivers an unnerving plot, following a doctor whose travels in the Southwest lead to involvement in a murder investigation.
But Hughes also incorporates larger sociopolitical themes, turning a gripping story into a social indictment. A corrupted chaplain with a mysterious past provides hideous insight into the nature of evil while stalking his juvenile prey. The character Phyllis Nirdlinger renamed Phyllis Dietrichson in the moviewho coerces an insurance agent into a deadly scheme, is emblematic of the femme fatale archetype so often seen in thrillers.
But tragedy awaits anyone whose wishes are so wicked. Set in a Harlem that at once feels larger-than-life and authentic, A Rage in Harlem introduces Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones to a rough and tumble world of grifters, prostitutes, and dangerous vendettas.My newest book, Daughters of the Lakehas all of those elements. One of the women, Addie, washes up dead on the beach in front of the house of the other, Kate. Nobody knows anything about Addie but Kate, who has been dreaming about her for weeks.
Kate sets about trying to solve the mystery of who she was and how and why she died, and it leads her into her own past. All of these books are suspenseful, thrilling reads with characters who will get inside your heart and haunt you, even when you put down the book.
She meets the woman rumored to be the inspiration for the story. This book has it all, a spooky, ghostly tale, well-crafted characters and a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. At Idlewild Hall, a home for wayward girls in s Vermont, four roommates are becoming good friends, bonding over rumors that the place is haunted, until one of them disappears. She learns an investor intends to restore Idlewild, and a shocking discovery uncovers secrets that were supposed to stay hidden.
Part romance, part historical novel, part gothic suspense… and witches. The book begins with nine-year-old Lydia doing something she expects to be punished for. Ten years later it does, but not because of Lydia. Her sister Catherine was involved in a scandal that sent the family to live in a small hamlet, New Oldbury, in an old country home, Willow Hall. What could go wrong in an old house near Salem, after all? I finished this story and wished very much I had written it.
This is the story of Callie, a granddaughter who inherited the house when the patriarch died. The parents of a teen who is behaving in an increasingly bizarre and terrifying way contact a Catholic priest in desperation. He comes, and brings a reality TV crew who documents the entire thing…which is a horror in itself. I love this book. It is haunting and magical and also, unlike any other book on this list, really very funny.
This is the story of Maud Drennan, who takes a job as a caregiver to a grumpy, elderly hoarder, Cathal Flood.
He has driven away several caregivers before her, but somehow, this odd pairing of young woman and cantankerous old man works. This tale is utterly charming and mysterious and indescribable. Trust me and buy it, and get ready to be completely entertained. Advertisers: Contact Us.
Article continues after advertisement. James The Death of Mrs. Her second and third novels, The Fate of Mercy Alban and The Vanishingestablished her as a leading suspense novelist, whom reviewers are calling the Queen of the Northern Gothic. Visit her online at www.
7 Domestic Thrillers to Binge-Read Right Now
Her latest novel is Daughters of the Lake. Koh April 8, It's Time for Nerd Jeopardy! How to Bartend April 8, by Rabih Alameddine. Find CrimeReads on Facebook. Read More. Twitter My Tweets.We're always down for a horror movie, but for a dose of real terror, we turn to terrifying psychological thriller books. Because while ghosts and bloodthirsty creatures can give you the spooks, the best scares are the ones that play with your head and remind us the real terrors are the ones that come from the people around us.
After all, there's nothing more freaky than being unable to trust your own mind, right? The following thrillers will keep you on your toes and more than a little creeped outas friends, couples, families, and neighbors come to realize that appearances are deceiving and the truth isn't always clear This twisted, thrilling read will plunge you into the unraveling mind of a mother dealing with a horrific tragedy.
Ever since her beloved daughter Mary died last year, Jane has been lost in a haze of grief and antidepressants. As shocking secrets threaten to come to light, Jane will do anything to protect her family….
Related: The 10 Best Books of When the renowned reconstructive surgeon is found murdered in a hotel room, Detective Samantha Adams is placed on the case.
Soon enough, she uncovers a stunning and inconvenient truth: Dr. Taylor was married to three different women in three different cities, two of whom were unaware of their unique situation. Outside of prison, Lee stays close with Michael and even befriends his wife. But soon Michael begins to question whether he did the right thing in freeing Lee—and letting him get so close to his family. In this twisted psychological thriller, prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates has crafted yet another story where the evils of paranoia and the people we surround ourselves with are more terrifying than any creature that goes bump in the night.
A cyber genius questions his own sanity in this chilling read that was one of the best thriller books of the past decade. Charlie Giles is the senior director of his own successful startup company, and everything in his life is going to plan—until his coworkers start dropping dead, and all the evidence points to Charlie. Is someone out there trying to implode his reputation? Or is his mind cracking under the pressure? Their sibling relationship becomes increasingly fraught as Jack makes bizarre demands of Josie, all the while exhibiting clear signs of sociopathy.
Things get even more twisted when the siblings strike out on their own and head towards a catastrophic end that they—and you—won't see coming. This is a thrilling update of the classic Hansel and Gretel fairy tale, though it also incites the skin-crawling creepiness of V. Once, year-old Alice Monroe was just your average teenager. To pass the long and uneventful days, Alice occupies herself by writing out her thoughts of vengeance, which all involve giving her sister a taste of her own murderous medicine.
An unhealthy friendship with a fellow patient only fuels her fire no pun intended —though resurfaced memories will make Alice realize that her mind has blurred fact and fiction.My newest book, Daughters of the Lakehas all of those elements. One of the women, Addie, washes up dead on the beach in front of the house of the other, Kate. Nobody knows anything about Addie but Kate, who has been dreaming about her for weeks. Kate sets about trying to solve the mystery of who she was and how and why she died, and it leads her into her own past.
All of these books are suspenseful, thrilling reads with characters who will get inside your heart and haunt you, even when you put down the book. She meets the woman rumored to be the inspiration for the story.
This book has it all, a spooky, ghostly tale, well-crafted characters and a mystery that will keep you turning the pages. At Idlewild Hall, a home for wayward girls in s Vermont, four roommates are becoming good friends, bonding over rumors that the place is haunted, until one of them disappears. She learns an investor intends to restore Idlewild, and a shocking discovery uncovers secrets that were supposed to stay hidden.
Part romance, part historical novel, part gothic suspense… and witches. The book begins with nine-year-old Lydia doing something she expects to be punished for. Ten years later it does, but not because of Lydia. Her sister Catherine was involved in a scandal that sent the family to live in a small hamlet, New Oldbury, in an old country home, Willow Hall.
What could go wrong in an old house near Salem, after all? I finished this story and wished very much I had written it. This is the story of Callie, a granddaughter who inherited the house when the patriarch died. The parents of a teen who is behaving in an increasingly bizarre and terrifying way contact a Catholic priest in desperation. He comes, and brings a reality TV crew who documents the entire thing…which is a horror in itself.
I love this book. It is haunting and magical and also, unlike any other book on this list, really very funny. This is the story of Maud Drennan, who takes a job as a caregiver to a grumpy, elderly hoarder, Cathal Flood. He has driven away several caregivers before her, but somehow, this odd pairing of young woman and cantankerous old man works.Gothic fiction merges deep passions with chill dread.
A Gothic story might include grand and decaying architecture, like medieval castles, English manors, or Southern mansions; grim weather, like freezing rain or oppressive heat; ghosts; darkness, with or without candles; mental illness; dungeons, basements, secret passageways, and labyrinths; eroticism; sick or sickly women; passionate and sometimes villainous men; blood; gloomy forests; and of course, the aforementioned sublime emotions and eerie atmosphere.
Gothic fiction has its beginnings in Britain during the latter half of the 18th century. The earlier half had been dominated by essays, treatises, dramas, satires, and realistic fiction that was informed by Enlightenment ideals of reason and progress.
Writers and readers of Gothic fiction reveled in what was more mysterious and less pragmatic: the supernatural, the strange, and surging feelings of all kinds.
Though gothic fiction has waxed and waned in popularity over two hundred and fifty years, there are jewels from nearly every decade since the first. Notable sub-genres include Southern Gothic, which features the Southern United States, and Postcolonial Gothic, which features landscapes emerging and recovering from a violent colonial past.
This is widely considered to be the first Gothic novel. In it, tender Isabella escapes imprisonment by the evil prince Manfred with the aid of a virtuous and mysterious peasant. In this frightening and thoughtful novel, a brilliant and misguided scientist uses the secret of reanimating dead matter to build a singular creature.
Mary Shelley created the science fiction genre and wrote a classic of the Gothic genre in one decisive stroke. Over two generations on a small stretch of the Yorkshire moors, acrimony, revenge, hope, disappointment, and devotion clash to spectacular results. After a gruesome tragedy that killed four family members, the remaining three—Merricat, Constance, and Uncle Julian—live in isolation. That is, until cousin Charles appears.
This powerful novel follows Sethe, an escaped slave, who lives with her daughter, mother-in-law, and a strange and compelling young woman named Beloved in Ohio just after the end of the Civil War.
Aubert as she faces otherworldly terrors and an evil villain in a crumbling castle. A young woman marries a handsome widower and finds herself in the imposing shadow of his deceased first wife. A young man lives as a libertine without compromising his breathtaking beauty—all the marks of sin fall on his portrait. Through the point of view of fifteen characters, Faulkner tells the story of Addie Bundren and her wish to be buried in her hometown—Jefferson, Mississippi.
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