Fun fact: my first major in college had nothing to do with English or creative writing. For the first three years of my undergraduate studies, I majored in psychology and aspired to become a psychiatrist. I find the human mind fascinating, and I love analyzing the different parts of our experiences that shape our personalities and lives.
That’s probably why psychological thrillers are one of my favorite genres in literature. I’m a sucker for anything with an unreliable narrator or plots that leave me with questions long after the story’s conclusion. Open endings drive me up a wall, but all my favorite stories seem to feature them. The more twisted the tale, the more I go crazy for it.
This week, I wanted to share five of my favorite twisted psychological thrillers with you. While I’ve mentioned Gone Girl before in a previous blog post, all five books are among my favorite works of fiction. If you love intricate plots and transgressive themes as much as I do, you’re sure to fall in love with one of these stories.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
Have you ever read a book with a plot twist you felt entirely unprepared for? One that forces you to reread the book the moment you finish it in search of clues you missed the first time around? This book is one of those.
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Freeney
If you like your books a little screwed up, this one is for you. The story features a timeline that switches between past and present, and each chapter deepens the mystery. By the end of the book, it was impossible to decide who the real antagonist was.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is one of those books you either love or hate. Neither of the main characters are especially likable, though Nick Dunne is nowhere near as psychotic as his wife. A cautionary tale of love gone wrong, Amy Dunne is one of my favorite fictional psychopaths.
Bring Me Back & Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
I couldn’t decide which story I liked best by B.A. Paris, so I decided to include my two favorites. Both novels feature sympathetic (but not necessarily likable) characters with a self-destructive streak that makes them feel all the more believable. Reading a B.A. Paris novel is a lot like listening to a new friend confide their darkest secrets.
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
My favorite psychological thrillers are the ones with characters in the mental health field. One of my college professors told me a lot of therapists have issues of their own, and books like An Anonymous Girl make me hesitate to trust psychotherapists and psychiatrists. While I didn’t love this one *quite* as much as The Silent Patient, the antagonist reminds me a lot of Dr. Temperence Brennan from the TV crime drama Bones.