When it comes to a good thriller, the setting can make or break a great story. Similar to what’s popular in a good old fashioned horror movie, there’s nothing like a creepy house to give you full-on goosebumps when you’re diving into a new book. If done effectively, these seemingly haunted or eerie places seem to be a character in the story all on their own. If you’re looking for some thrillers where the house itself takes on a big part of the plot, here are some reads that’ll make you happy you don’t live there.
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Maggie’s family is infamous for what happened in a Victorian house in the woods of Vermont called Baneberry Hall. Twenty-five years ago, the family moved in only to flee three weeks later and never return. Maggie’s father wrote a book about the terrifying events that happened in that short time, but Maggie never believed a word of what he wrote. Now, in present time, Maggie’s father has died and left her Baneberry Hall, and she plans to restore and sell it. When Maggie returns to the estate, she begins to realize that what her father wrote may not have been as fabricated as she once thought.
The Shadow House by Anna Downes
Alex is a single mother of two looking for a fresh start to escape her past. Pine Ridge is the perfect place for her to start over—a beautiful rural community surrounded by forests. In her new home, Alex finds some disturbing information that sets off a strange chain of events that mirror things that happened to the family who lived in the house prior. What began as a fresh start turns into inexplicable danger as Alex fights to protect her family.
Lacie’s Secrets by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist
Eighteen years ago, Kate Williams sister Lacie disappeared at the family’s summer home. When Kate’s mother dies unexpectedly, Kate returns to Villa Magda for the first time since Lacie’s disappearance with her family and a group of friends. From the moment the group arrives, incidents begin to happen, and strange visitors threaten to expose Kate’s secrets. When a body is found in the pool, Kate begins to realize that the house is holding more secrets than anyone knew.
The Girl Before by JP Delaney
After a recent break-in, Emma just wants a safe place to live, and thinks she’s found it in One Folgate Street: a beautiful house that comes with a lot of rules from the architect who built it. Some of these rules include no books, photos, clutter, or any personal effects. In present time, Jane is moving into One Folgate Street and learns of the tragic death of the previous tenant. As time goes on, Jane finds herself making similar choices, meeting the same people, and experiencing the same fear as the woman who lived their before.
House Swap by Rebecca Fleet
Caroline and Francis just received an offer to house swap their city apartment for a house in an upscale London suburb. Looking to escape for a week and work on the issues they are having in their marriage, this decision seems like a no brainer. After the two arrive, the tension in their marriage increases as old problems are brought to light, and a nosey neighbor begins to pay too much attention to the couple. The longer they are there, Caroline begins to notice things in the house from her life that make it apparent whoever they swapped houses with knows a lot about her, including all of her secrets.
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Rowan Caine just got a job as a live-in nanny with a huge salary at Heatherbrae House—a luxury “smart” house in the Scottish Highlands including the picture-perfect family. Little does Rowan know that this is the only the beginning of a story that will result in her being in prison and a child dead. Featuring letters to her lawyer, Rowan recounts the events the lead her to her incarceration, including malfunctioning technology, badly behaved children, and a strange handyman.
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Libby Jones is only twenty-five-years-old and just received a letter with the identity of her birth parents and that she has inherited their mansion that is worth millions of dollars. While this seems like the answers to all her problems, Libby is about to find out that she’s not the only one who’s been waiting for this day. Twenty-five years ago, the police arrived at this mansion to find a baby crying and three dead bodies.