books, lifestyle

Best Psychological Thriller Novels

I can’t believe I’ve gotten this far into my blogging without doing a post about books.

Aside from having a very large collection of clothing items and shoes, I also own 200+ books and most of my free time is spent reading. 

My interests span across many different genres and topics, but my favorite genre is horror/thriller.

I have a pretty high tolerance when it comes to this stuff, so I rarely ever get scared, but I love anything that can get my heart beating faster or keep my mind whirling long after I’ve finished the last page.

I also love the grotesque and gory, but we’ll save that for another post. This one is about psychological thrillers.

Coincidentally, all of these stories are told from an unlikely point of view.

It does make sense that a psychological thriller is most effective when it explores the mind of a character who is psychologically disturbed, and I guess that was a common draw for me with all of these books.

It’s also a happy coincidence that all of these books were written by women!

I typically don’t pay much attention to the author when I’m reading a book, until I get to a really good scene or line and then I just have to find out more about the master it was crafted by, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that every book I initially listed out for this post was written by a fellow female. 

SO, here we go. These are my (current) top 5 favorite psychological thrillers, all written by talented, badass women.

Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
This was probably the best book I read in 2018.

Without giving too much away, it’s about a teenage girl who grew up with a serial killer as a mom, and is now trying to figure out how to adjust to being a “regular” high school student in a foster home.

This girl is our narrator, and her point of view is so enthralling and different than that of any narrator in books I’ve read before.

As you can tell by the title, she struggles with what she feels, deep down, is morally right versus the example she grew up witnessing.

She fights guilt that her mother is now behind bars, even though she knows that her mother deserves to be locked up.

We get to witness all of the typical high school girl problems through the eyes of someone with a very twisted mind, the whole time wondering which version of her inner self will prevail, the good or the bad.

You by Caroline Kepnes
You’ve probably heard about this book or its Netflix adaptation by now.

At its core, the book is about a guy who gets a little too obsessive about a girl and lets his passion fuel his, sometimes very scary, actions.

For me, what sets this book apart is how interesting each of the characters is, and how different from one another they are.

Rather than just using stereotypical character types, Kepnes creates multi-dimensional people, each with their own likable (and hateable) qualities. 

Since this is told from the perspective of the “stalker,” Joe, we get to see his internal rationalization of his actions as well as the progression of his feelings and mindset throughout the book.

As usual, I would definitely recommend reading this book before you stream the series.

Not only do I prefer some of the original scenes to the changes they made for the show, but you also get a lot more insight into what the characters are thinking, which adds more suspense.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
If you still haven’t read this book, you need to stop what you’re doing and immediately get started on it.

Ok, you can finish this post first, but then you need to go and get this book. It continues to be one of my all-time favorites no matter how many new and exciting books I read.

There is a great twist in this book that hopefully has not been spoiled for you by now, with all the publicity that the movie adaptation got at one point.

When I got to this point in the book my mouth literally dropped open, and then spread into a huge grin.

This book had several “wow, she really did that” moments for me, and when an author has the courage to go there, I have to show my respect and admiration.

Gone Girl may be a bit of an acquired taste—I know a few people who weren’t crazy about it when they read it—but I loved every word of it and would definitely recommend it to others.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
This was my first time reading Sarah Pinborough but it will certainly not be my last.

The braided narrative of this story works really well—revealing bits of the past and present little by little until they ultimately connect.

Huge bonus points for an ending that I didn’t figure out until I was almost finished with the book.

Since I’ve had a lot of exposure to different thriller storylines, I can usually figure out where they’re going early on, but this one took me by surprise and I was happy with the surprise ending that the author came up with.

Room by Emma Donoghue
I read this book years ago but it is still at the top of my list in terms of thrillers.

I have never forgotten how much this book consumed me during and immediately after my time reading it.

It is fairly simple—the majority of the story takes place in a single small room and there are only 3 main characters—but it is an emotional powerhouse and incredibly disturbing from start to finish. 

Our main character, Jack, has only known the inside of this room for his entire life.

He and his mom live there together, with occasional visits from the man who is keeping them there.

The most unsettling part of this book is the simple and innocent way that Jack interprets everything, while we as readers can tell how completely corrupt and disgusting these events truly are. 

There is also a movie version of this book that I haven’t brought myself to watch yet because I just don’t feel emotionally prepared to see it come to life visually.

Yes, the book is that intense and effective. Give it a read and you’ll see what I mean.

Those are my top 5 psychological thrillers (at the moment). My list of favorite books is constantly changing, especially since I’m always trying to find more good reads to add to my list.

If you have any really good thrillers that aren’t on this list, please share them in the comments below!

Or if you have read the ones I did list, I’d love to hear what you have to say about them.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and happy reading! 😊♥️

9 thoughts on “Best Psychological Thriller Novels”

  1. My favourite psychological thrillers are :
    Into the darkest corner by Elizabeth Haynes, Before I go to sleep, the woman in cabin 10, girlfriend,
    Ex-wife by Jess Ryder, behind her eyes

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  2. I’ve read a few books in this genre but avoid them. They give me nightmares. Characters too sinister and drama too frightening. Even more frightening is that even though this genre is fiction we know people of such monstrous natures actually exist out there.

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