If you’re watching—and loving—HBO’s Sharp Objects (like we are), you may be in need of some deliciously chilling entertainment for when the season ends. To satisfy those dark corners of your mind, we’ve put together a list of twisty, turn-y, psychological thrillers, including the book of the same name that inspired it all.
If You Like the TV Show, You’ll Love the Book:
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
“I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights.”—Stephen King
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story and survive this homecoming.
Reads for When You’ve Finished Season 1:
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
In the latest thriller from the bestselling author of Final Girls, a young woman returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.
Two Truths and a Lie. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness; the last she—or anyone—saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.
Dustin, a psychologist in suburban Cleveland, gets news that his adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to epitomize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.
Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients has been plying him with stories of the drowning deaths of a string of drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses his patient’s suggestions that a serial killer is at work as paranoid thinking, but as the two embark on an amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.
“The scariest novel of the year . . . ingenious.”—The Washington Post
Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
“A phenomenal, haunting debut.”—Gillian Flynn, bestselling author of Sharp Objects
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands. But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack.
Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good. As she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface. And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret a ritual will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.
They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them . . . They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers—to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste . . .
Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.
Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship.
“A wicked original with echoes of the greats (Patricia Highsmith, Gillian Flynn).” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A domestic thriller packed full of secrets, and a twisty story that never stops—from the bestselling author of The Couple Next Door.
Karen and Tom Krupp are happy. They’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished. Her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. The police arrive to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident. Karen is mostly okay—except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed.
The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good. Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions. Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.
“Smart and suspenseful . . . you’ll never see the ending coming.” —PureWow
Arrowood by Laura McHugh
A haunting novel from the author of The Weight of Blood about a young woman’s return to her childhood home—and her encounter with the memories and family secrets it holds.
Arrowood is the most ornate and grand of the historical houses that line the Mississippi River in southern Iowa. But the house has a mystery it has never revealed: It’s where Arden Arrowood’s younger twin sisters vanished on her watch twenty years ago—never to be seen again.
After the twins’ disappearance, Arden’s parents divorced and the Arrowoods left the big house that had been in their family for generations. And Arden’s own life has fallen apart. She has held on to the hope that her sisters are still alive, and it seems she can’t move forward until she finds them. When her father dies and she inherits Arrowood, Arden returns to her childhood home determined to discover what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close—and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.
“This robust, old-fashioned gothic mystery has everything you’re looking for: a creepy old house, a tenant with a secret history, and even a few ghosts. Laura McHugh’s novel sits at the intersection of memory and history, astutely asking whether we carry the past or it carries us.”—Jodi Picoult
“Cool, clever and infused with a compellingly chilly melancholy, Arrowood kept me guessing and re-guessing all the way to its inexorable conclusion”—Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10
The Drama Teacher by Koren Zailckas
By the New York Times bestselling author of Mother, Mother and Smashed, a propulsive thriller: the story of a desperate and devious woman who will do anything to give her family a better life.
Gracie Mueller is a proud mother of two and devoted wife, living with her husband Randy in upstate New York. Her life is complicated by the usual tedium and stressors—young children, marriage, money—and she’s settled down comfortably enough. But when Randy’s failing career as a real estate agent makes finances tight, their home goes into foreclosure, and Gracie feels she has no choice but to return to the creatively illegal and high-stakes lifestyle of her past in order to keep all that she’s worked so hard to have.
Gracie, underneath all that’s marked her life as average, has a lot to hide about where she’s from, who she is, and who she’s been. And when things inevitably begin to spin out of her control, more questions about the truth of her past are raised, including all the ones she never meant to, or even knew to, ask.
“Mesmerizing…Fascinated readers will keep turning the pages.” —Publishers Weekly
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
A riveting thriller in which an unresolved murder haunts a family for generations, forcing one daughter into a life of hiding and concealed identity to escape a deadly threat—from the New York Times bestselling author of The Winter People and Promise Not to Tell.
On the surface, Ashford, Vermont, seems like a quaint New England college town, but to those who live among the shadowy remains of its abandoned mills and factories and beneath its towering steel bridges, it’s known as Burntown. Eva Sandeski, who goes by the name Necco on the street, has been a part of Burntown’s underworld for years, ever since the night her father, Miles, drowned in a flood that left her and her mother, Lily, homeless.
Now, on the run from a man called Snake Eyes, Necco must rely on other Burntown outsiders to survive. As the lives of these misfits intersect, and as the killer from the Sandeski family’s past draws ever closer, a story of edge-of-your-seat suspense begins to unfurl with twists and turns.
Her Sister’s Lie by Debbie Howells
In this delicious, dark psychological thriller, the international bestselling author of The Bones of You weaves a compulsive story about one woman’s death and the web of duplicity and fractured relationships that unravels around it.
It’s been ten years since Hannah Roscoe saw her older sister, but that distance fades to nothing when she receives a call from the police saying Nina is dead.
As a teenager Hannah moved into Nina’s cottage in the English countryside. In that secluded setting, Nina was trying to give her children the freedom that she and Hannah never knew growing up. Now Nina is gone, and Hannah is left to care for her young nephew, Abe, who’s remote and moody in the wake of his loss. But worse is to come, as Nina’s death, first ruled an accident, becomes a murder investigation.
Hannah can’t shake the feeling that someone else knows all about the secrets she and Nina shared—and the ones they kept hidden, even from each other. Perhaps Nina’s death is not a tragic ending after all, but the beginning of a new and twisted nightmare.