We think one of the best ways to celebrate the shortening of the days, the changing of the seasons, is to settle in with a good thriller novel. Celebrate the coming of the darker time of year by reading something that will make you keep the lights on! The next full moon will fall on Halloween night, an event that hasn’t happened since 1944 (though it landed on November 1st a few times since)—so it’s sure to be an extra spooky week. Thrillers aren’t just about scaring you, though. They get your blood pumping and immerse you in an adventure you may not survive, coming at you so strongly and swiftly that you simply can’t put the book down. Try a few of these favorites, and remember to lock your doors!
A romance writer finds himself at the mercy of his Number One Fan in perhaps King’s best novel. The homicidal Annie Wilkes is no cartoon villain, but a desperate and unhappy person who turns to her favorite books for refuge from the world (something many readers may find all too familiar!) Under her guidance, author Paul Sheldon creates his best work yet...now if only he can survive to see it published. Misery was made into an acclaimed movie, but there are some things that were impossible to adapt to the screen- notably, the process by which Sheldon’s new romance novel turns into gothic horror.
Since Carol J. Clover coined the term in 1992, “final girl” has meant the last female survivor in a horror movie. But what happens after the movie is over? Food blogger Quincey Carpenter is trying to put her past trauma at the hands of a mysterious murderer behind her, but someone or something won’t let her forget. Someone or something is trying to kill young women who have already survived dreadful ordeals. And in order to stop the horror, Quincey is going to have to play final girl once more.
In this twist on the classic Jane Eyre, our orphaned heroine is beset on all sides by hardship and cruel abusers. Luckily for her, she’s a very good problem-solver—especially when the solution involves murder. All she wants to do is survive, protect those she cares about, and maybe even find love in the arms of her dashing and mysterious employer; but a past with a body count is quite a thing to hide. Can she ever outrun it?
The classic! Every movie and comic book with a villain who commits themed murders owes a debt to this novel. Ten people are lured to a remote island, where an unknown killer begins to knock them off in manners inspired by a nasty nursery rhyme. But these aren’t just any victims—they’re all people who have gotten away with murder, the killer believes, and would never be prosecuted by the law. Is the killer correct in their assessment? Is this justice? And will anyone be left to tell the tale?
This is another thriller that has been adapted for the big screen (and tv!), but you can’t beat the original. Criminal profiler Will Graham is known for his ability to get inside the minds of serial killers, and is pulled away from his happy family life to track down a man killing families. Yes, this is the literary debut of Hannibal Lecter, but he’s only a side character—the tragic villain here is the (much more interesting) Francis Dolarhyde, a man who wishes he could stop killing but is driven on by his past abuse and visions of a red dragon. It’s gory and grisly and at times heartbreaking. When it comes to serial killer novels, accept no imitations.