Psychological thrillers are suspenseful narratives that plunge the depths of the human psyche. In these books, the characters own distorted perceptions of reality form a core aspect of the plot. Literary devices utilized in psychological thrillers often include the unreliable narrator and red herrings. Throughout psychological thrillers, the audience is left wondering what is truly going on. Take Shudder Island by Dennis Lehane, in which the arc of the story is distorted by the protagonist’s delusions. Or consider the classic short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in which the narrator herself is not able to discern between reality and her own inescapable descent into madness.
One of the reasons why psychological thrillers are so popular is because it’s so easy to become entangled and engrossed within the story. You keep turning the pages because you want to finally have answers—and your own sense of reality becomes a little warped along the way. The satisfaction really comes with the ending, when all the pieces finally fall into place and you realize how many little clues you missed along the way.
If you’re a fan of this intoxicating sub-genre, here are some enticing stories to start with:
And when you’ve finished those, peruse the stories below to discover the best the psychological thriller world has to offer.
A psychological thriller you won't be able to put down.
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It's time for a little payback.
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There’s something for every kind of reader when it comes to these fresh releases.
The students of this exclusive prep school are as good at hiding secrets as they are at acing their studies.
Bauer's propulsive narratives are not to be missed.
A curse plagues an isolated boarding school in Sara Faring’s The Tenth Girl.
If your whole life is a lie, who do you trust?
Get your popcorn ready—these thrillers are available to stream now.
No one can be trusted in this fast-paced psychological thriller.
New books by authors who thrill and chill.
Dive into the work of one of the most talented suspense writers of all time.
Sarah Meuleman’s debut novel, Find Me Gone, jumps between 1996 and 2014 to paint a devastating portrait of a woman confronted by her past.
Du Maurier's genre-bending mysteries will leave you with the chills...
Say "goodbye" to sleep, and "hello" to your next great read.
By Olivia Mason
Teenager Keith Moore was the last person to see Amy Giordano before she went missing in this Edgar Award-nominated thriller from Thomas H. Cook.
A teenager becomes hopelessly entangled with a man who may not be who he says he is.