Thrillers have made a definite mark on the book world in 2018 and when it came time to round up the best of the year, it was a no-brainer to reach out to our resident thriller expert, Garrett. These bone-chilling novels will leave you with all the thrills you love and catapult you into 2019. Find out what the best thrillers of 2018 are and add them to your reading list if you haven’t already.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
This novel has been all over Bookstagram for over a year and talk about my most anticipated read of 2018! I knew this one was going to be special when they sold the movie rights to the novel before it was even released. This novel played on my anxiety in the most exciting way and I loved how Finn was able to keep me completely addicted with one of the best unreliable narrators I’ve ever read – did I mention the entire novel takes place in one building? The Woman in the Window is cinematic, creepy and has a twisty noir vibe that haunts this beast of a novel. I still anticipate the day I am snowed in so I can revisit this novel with a glass of my favorite red wine.
The Winters by Lisa Gabriele
I believe the deeper you get into the phenomenal community known as Bookstagram, you find novels that you didn’t know were cult classics or novels that everyone had in their lives! One of those novels is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. This novel sounded so intriguing and then before you know it, I came across this beauty. Inspired by Rebecca, The Winters is a modern take on this novel with a twist – the best part is you don’t have to read Rebecca to understand the beauty of The Winters. The plot to this novel has a pulse, the characters are spectacular, the plot is brilliantly paced and doused in a beautiful prose and the ending was chilling and cinematic. Gabriele has a way with words, seducing me with every single word. If you’re looking for a beautifully written and unique psychological thriller with a fantastic cast, this is the read for you. The Winters is one of the novels that will stay with you long after the stunning final chapter.
Every Single Secret by Emily Carpenter
I read this one in the heat of the summer and still felt a chill when I lost myself in these pages. Emily Carpenter has a way with words that is sensational. This novel is a perfect example of how to successfully combine atmosphere and rich character development. The plot is eerie, brilliantly paced and featured a frightening finale that I still have a hard time wrapping my head around. This is a perfect binge-worthy psychological thriller just begging to be devoured.
In the Vines by Shannon Kirk
This is the kind of novel that you read and immediately start forcing your friends to read. Why? Because it deserves to be talked about for hours and hours. This is a gothic tale that is dark, violent and gives you enough detail to know something ominous is brewing without preparing you for what is really about to come. This novel chilled me to the core with its brilliant plot, dazzling characters and features one of the creepiest scenes I’ve ever read in my life. That scene and this book sends a shiver up my spine, and the bloody, devastating and jaw-dropping finale will haunt you for months after completion. Gothic suspense at its finest, this is definitely a novel that will make you want to invest in a nightlight.
The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton
A 400+ page novel featuring a serial killer, alternate timelines, an eerie atmospheric setting and witchcraft? Bring. It. On. I’m a huge fan of Sharon Bolton and what I love most about her is that she truly delivers with each and every novel. The pacing in The Craftsman is not only well executed, but increases the creep-factor evenly for the faint of heart. This is definitely a novel that you’ll want to devour in a weekend as it’s near impossible to put down and once you start, it’s game over. Lock your doors, avoid the cemetery and buckle up – The Craftsman is here.
Bone Music by Christopher Rice
I’ve been a Christopher Rice fan for over 15 years. Rice’s writing is lyrical, bewitching and rich with prose and when he released Bone Music, I was interested because it’s a thriller with a science fiction layer and a touch of supernatural happenings. I wanted to dip my toes into the plot one evening before bed and found myself immersed in the story wondering how I lost myself so quickly at over 100 pages in. With exceptional characters and a plot that is relentless with its grip over the reader, this is a harrowing and suspenseful journey that is easy to adapt to, difficult to put down and impossible to forget. Not a fan of the science fiction or supernatural? Have no fear – Rice eases these elements in with grace and doesn’t overwhelm you with the fear of the unknown.
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
Nothing (and I mean nothing) gets me like a cold case featured in a book. Oh, someone died years and years ago and you don’t know what happened? Oh, you think you know what happened and you were 100% wrong? I’m already intrigued. This novel features two timelines (win), a serial killer (double win) and a character who’s been harboring a secret about her best friend’s murder by her serial killer boyfriend at the time. Jar of Hearts is unlike anything I’ve ever read and Hillier writes about violence in a way that makes it fluid and poetic. The characters in this novel are top-notch and showcase Hillier’s immense talent and with a plot that relies heavily on the reader putting together the pieces of the puzzle, she finds a way to surprise you. A violent opening, a bittersweet middle and a terrifying ending – this is one of the most exciting character-driven novels I have ever read and even talking about it makes me want to pick it up again.
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
Anyone who has spoken to me since May won’t be surprised to see this one on the list. Jessica Knoll is the queen of prose (and don’t @ me). I’m going to take a deep breath and tell you that this novel combines so many genres that the result is a story that pushes boundaries and is hands-down one of the best novels I have ever read. A literary suspense novel that features… deep breath… reality television. Jessica Knoll is a praise-worthy author that gave me a story that was so unique, featured unapologetic three-dimensional characters and pushed the envelope when it came to dark humor. I didn’t want this one to end at all, but I was still intrigued to reach the end. The ending is shocking. violent, clever and heavy with dark comedy. I can’t imagine this was an easy novel to write, but it’s very easy to get lost in and 100% enjoy in its entirety.
The Sandman by Lars Kepler
I was invited to participate in a blog tour for The Sandman by Lars Kepler and because of my obsession with Nordic Noir, I quickly accepted. The Sandman is a story so brooding and mystifying, it would make Hannibal Lecter sleep with the lights on. Not only is the plot well-detailed, but the writing is rich and vivid. This novel is a lengthy one, but once you dive in, you’ll be thankful for it (I like big books and I cannot lie). The story features razor-sharp turns and is so cunning that I was hypnotized all the way to the chilling and violent conclusion. I will warn you that once you dive in, you’ll be adding Lars Kepler’s entire backlist to your #TBR pile.
The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson
When I picked up The Glass Forest, I was nervous that it would be similar to many other thrillers I’ve read but I quickly realized it was actually one hell of a recharge. The Glass Forest is a beautifully constructed psychological thriller that takes place in the 1960s. This book features the perspectives of three very unique women that are bound together by a family shrouded in mystery. With effective pacing, a dazzling story and an ending that is perfect for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, this is definitely one of those novels that once you read it, you won’t be able to shut up about it. I most enjoyed the fact that Swanson can write a terrifying novel without all the gore. This one is absolutely perfect for a book club recommendation.
Into the Black Nowhere by Meg Gardiner
Okay, Meg. OKAY. Meg Gardiner’s writing reminds me so much of Thomas Harris, yet she has a way of weaving together a plot in her own fashion that is so brilliantly executed and splendid to read. If you thought the first novel in the series, UNSUB, was great, this one kicks things up a notch. It’s gripping from the first chapter and even more chilling than I imagined it would be. You get insight into the lives of the police force, the victims, the surrounding characters and also the killer. This cat-and-mouse novel features it all, leaving the reader breathless with every deliciously terrifying twist and turn.
The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
Have you ever had a reading experience that just has it all? That’s how I felt with this one. I had a weekend with zero plans (my favorite kind), the weather was transitioning to spring and it was rainy and perfectly cozy and I had a thriller in my hands that I was itching to dive into: The Broken Girls. Simone St. James truly captured the beauty of Vermont with two stories that blend together seamlessly. Her style is a perfect example of how you can add believable supernatural elements to a story… I was vowing to never go into the woods after this one. The storyline in 1950 features a boarding school for troubled girls that is believed to be haunted and is a perfect combination of a coming-of-age tale, a ghost story and a chilling disappearance. The storyline in 2014 is faster paced and includes a journalist haunted by her sister’s murder near the boarding school. What happens next is a recipe of beautiful terror, shocking revelations, and an ending that is so remarkably harrowing, I immediately had to recommend it to my book club.
The Liar’s Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard
Imagine starting college, embracing your new sense of freedom, enjoying life with your best friend – and then you meet the love of your life. Wait? I thought I was reading a thriller… oh yeah, the love of your life is a serial killer that has been terrorizing your college campus and he murdered your best friend. What if I told you that’s only the beginning? What if ten years later another body shows up and two detectives knock on your door and tell you the killer boyfriend from your past has something to confess and they need you to visit him in jail? This novel was brilliantly twisted, dark and had me immediately hooked from page one. Catherine Ryan Howard tells a tale that sinks its teeth into you as a reader and grips tighter and tighter until the shocking finale which is easily my favorite ending to a thriller since Gone Girl.
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Last year, Riley Sager took thriller readers by storm with his debut novel Final Girls – I’ve read it three times in the past year and a half. When The Last Time I Lied was released, I quickly cleared my schedule, put my phone on airplane mode and dove in. This novel is a chilling psychological read that went beyond my expectations and reaffirmed my fear of the woods. What I loved about this read was how Riley Sager gave the reader two timelines within the same setting featuring the same protagonist. And yet, everything is different. Camp Nightingale took on a character of its own as I found myself engrossed in this eerie psychological thriller that made Friday the 13th look like a Disney movie. With brilliant pacing, readers embark on an emotionally charged and spooky journey with Emma Davis as she revisits a place that has terrified her for 15 years. With a story that reads like a psychological thriller for the first half and an adrenaline-filled suspense novel throughout its second half, the message is clear; do not go into the woods… because what you uncover when you seek the truth may be the most frightening part.
Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding
Robyn Harding is back with a thriller that is easily my favorite read of 2018. After devouring The Party last summer, I was expecting another domestic thriller. I was wrong. This novel is darker, more psychologically delicious and atmospherically dazzling. Robyn Harding tells this story from the point of view of a mother and her daughter in the present day and a teenage boy in the ’90s. It was addictive and drowning in intensity. Each voice is so distinct and almost feels like a different genre as they weave together to tell a story that is unlike any other thriller I’ve read. Robyn Harding is not only a stunning storyteller, but can write a novel that will hypnotize you, pull you in and keep you guessing until the very end.
This is an excellent list! I’ve read several of them and the others are being added to my list right now! Garrett is an excellent reviewer and never fails with his recommendations!
I have read a few of these that were excellent. The rest of them also look great. Thanks so much!