Incredible stories to keep you enthralled in 2022.
When it comes to books, the most disappointing genre is psychological thrillers.
You either love them, or you hate them so much, that you start regretting even starting them in the first place.
I’m always skeptical of starting a thriller. I’ve been disappointed so many times in my life, that I’m wary of even glowing reviews on Goodreads.
If you’re in the same boat as a reader, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I’ve listed three of the most shocking psychological thrillers I’ve read in recent times. Each book will leave you turning pages until the very end, and the final twist will make you gasp out loud.
If you’re fond of reading books that shock and thrill, then this list is just for you. Read on, and don’t forget to let me know your thoughts in the comments.
(Note: The links mentioned in this article are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase these books through these links, it will help me earn a small amount — at no extra cost to you. Thanks!)
1. The Push by Ashley Audrain
“Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother’s ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born.”
The quote this book opens with sums up the story brilliantly. How a woman is already in tune with her grandmother’s destiny, and the depth of a bond three generations of women can share.
Blythe is convinced she will make a good life for herself when she meets Fox. But her new husband dreams to start a family — something Blythe is terrified of doing because of the turbulent relationship she shared with her own mother, Cecilia.
With love and support from her husband and his mother, she musters the courage to dream, and soon, their beautiful daughter is born. But right from the moment Blythe sets eyes on her daughter, she’s convinced something this wrong with her. The constant tantrums and demand for attention don’t help, and neither do the complaints of bullying she hears from her preschool teachers.
But as her daughter grows up to be a beautiful woman, Blythe tries to convince herself her doubts are all in her head. No matter how hard she tries, she simply can’t seem to let go of her apprehensions. And when her son is born in an increasingly fractured family, Blythe worries about how safe the baby can be in the company of his elder sister who she was never able to figure out.
This is the premise of The Push by Ashley Audrain, a book I picked up solely because of the insanely high ratings on Goodreads. And I wasn’t disappointed.
This is an adrenaline-packed psychological thriller that will keep you guessing throughout the pages. The final reveal only makes you gasp wider in shock and makes it apparent why the book was named thus.
Aside from that, this is also a brilliant treatise on the complications of marriage and motherhood. It beautifully depicts the conflicted emotions a woman feels throughout her pregnancy, and the impact a difficult child can have on an otherwise loving marriage. It also lays out how a mother-daughter bond can be affected by the bond the woman shared with her own mother, leading to a cycle of love and resentment that requires immense work from both parties to resolve.
The characters are brilliant, and you’ll find yourself rooting for them, even though you don’t know them that well yet. The writing is engaging, and the subtle cliffhangers at the end of each chapter keep you turning the pages.
If you love women-centric and fast-paced contemporary thrillers, then this book is definitely for you.
2. Sadie by Courtney Summers
A popular crime journalist is contacted by an old woman in a sleepy American town and is informed about Sadie and Mattie — two sisters whose lives have been torn apart by an absent mother. A few months ago, 13-year-old Mattie was found dead after she got into a trailer with a stranger. And now, 19-year-old Sadie has taken every single one of her belongings, thrown them in the trash, and has left the town with no way to trace her whereabouts.
The journalist’s investigations later reveal Sadie is on the hunt for a man she claims to be her father. Intrigued, he starts a podcast called “The Girls,” to talk about Sadie’s story and try to uncover why she ran away, including an investigation of the events leading up to Mattie’s death.
What could motivate a young, grieving girl to throw away her life and go on a wild goose chase across the country? Does Sadie know something about Mattie’s murder and is trying to get revenge? What’s the story about a father, and does the mother of the girls have a role to play in this tragedy?
This is the crux of Courtney Summers’ Sadie. A brilliantly-narrated book switching between past and present in the form of Sadie’s narration and the crime journalist’s podcast. We learn the shocking true story in bits and pieces until the ending leaves you shocked and relieved in equal measure.
It’s an interesting story, and one I’d definitely recommend to lovers of crime thrillers and murder mysteries. There’s enough mystery, menace, love, and longing to keep you turning the pages until you figure out what truly happened to the girls.
3. The Marriage by K.L. Slater
The cover of this book proclaims, “Ten years ago he killed my son. Today I married him.” This was enough to make me dive right in and discover why someone would do something so extreme.
I’m so glad I did because, without that hook, I’d probably never have picked up this obscure but delicious little book.
It is the story of Bridget who loses her 18-year-old son, Jesse, who’s murdered by his best friend, Tom. Bridget nurtured Tom like her own son all through Jesse’s life. And with Jesse’s death, she’s left devastated and a shell of her former joyful self.
What drives this woman from the brink of self-destruction to rebuild her life and marry her son’s killer 10 years later? And what are the motives of the man who spent 10 years in prison to immediately marry the woman whose testimony condemned him to prison?
That’s the premise of this fast-paced thriller, and if it sparks curiosity in you, you should definitely read it.
Be warned though, no matter how seasoned a thriller reader you are, the ending won’t be what you expected. Also, keep in mind that this is a character-driven book, rather than a plot-driven one. Most of the action happens inside the characters’ heads, as we get a glimpse into what drives them to do what they do.
If you enjoy stories like that, then this is a wonderful book to curl up with on a rainy day.
For more book reviews and recommendations, follow me on Goodreads.