Share Grab Your Sweater: 10 Thrillers to Read This Fall That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine

Grab Your Sweater: 10 Thrillers to Read This Fall That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine

Alice Martin is a PhD candidate in English Literature at Rutgers University, where she obsesses over nineteenth-century women writers, the history of the publishing industry, and writing practices. She’s also a regular contributor to Shelf Awareness and a freelance writer and editor. Her writing has appeared in The Carolina Quarterly, Appalachian Heritage, and Sixfold among other publications. You can find her talking about books, food, and basketball (in that order) on Twitter @AliceJeanMartin.

Are you an expert at predicting endings? Think all thrillers look alike? Used to reading the scariest of books alone at night? Then check out this list of ten thrillers that we can’t wait to get our hands on this fall! Original, inventive, and unexpected, these titles don’t just deliver in terms of pulse-pounding, page-turning pacing (although they’ve got that, too). They are also crafted around unimaginable reveals and perfectly plotted twists. Whether it’s a re-imagining of a classic trope or a self-aware exploration of a reader’s own expectations, these novels deliver thoughtful reevaluations of a genre we already know and love. So, get cozy with one of these clever, suspenseful reads as you slip into some well-worn flannel.


The Turn of the Key
by Ruth Ware

From the New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ware comes a staggeringly original rewrite of Henry James’s TURN OF THE SCREW. Rowan entered her employer’s glamorous smart home thrilled to have landed such a well-paying live-in nanny job. Now, writing to her lawyer from jail and charged with murdering her ward, Rowan struggles to explain how such a perfect setup fell apart. Between the constant surveillance, the uncanny children, and the near-constant isolation, Rowan knows she made mistakes. But she also knows she isn’t the killer.

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The Turn of the Key
Ruth Ware

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A superb suspense writer…Brava, Ruth Ware. I daresay even Henry James would be impressed.” —Maureen Corrigan, author of So We Read On

“This appropriately twisty Turn of the Screw update finds the Woman in Cabin 10 author in her most menacing mode, unfurling a shocking saga of murder and deception.” —Entertainment Weekly

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Lying Game and The Death of Mrs. Westaway comes this thrilling novel that explores the dark side of technology.

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the home’s cameras, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder—but somebody is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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MENTIONED IN:

The 10 Most Popular Books That Captured Our Hearts This September

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 30, 2020

Grab Your Sweater: 10 Thrillers to Read This Fall That Will Send Chills Down Your Spine

By Alice Martin | September 17, 2020

5 Ruth Ware Novels That Still Send Chills Down Our Spines

By Holly Claytor | September 3, 2020

7 Books Blooming into Paperback this May

By Carrie Cabral | May 18, 2020

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Family Upstairs
by Lisa Jewell

In this enthralling, atmospheric whodunit, Libby Jones is thrilled to learn that she is the sole inheritor of her birth parents’ abandoned mansion. The child of adoption, Libby is desperate to learn more about her biological family, who were either killed in or disappeared after a mysterious, cultlike multiple murder years ago. But as Libby begins to move into her new home, she’ll learn that she isn’t the only one who has been waiting years for this moment. The violence of the past isn’t over.

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Family Upstairs
Lisa Jewell

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA COVER TO COVER BOOK CLUB PICK

“Rich, dark, and intricately twisted, this enthralling whodunit mixes family saga with domestic noir to brilliantly chilling effect.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author

“A haunting, atmospheric, stay-up-way-too-late read.” —Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author

From the New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone comes another page-turning look inside one family’s past as buried secrets threaten to come to light.

Be careful who you let in.

Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.

She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.

Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.

In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.

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The Tenant
by Katrine Engberg

In this pulse-pounding literary debut, two female detectives take on the case of a woman found murdered with lines etched into her face. While they quickly establish a connection between the woman and her eccentric landlord, Esther, not all is as it appears. In fact, it becomes obvious that Esther herself may be a victim of an even more twisted game. As they peel back the layers of an elaborate revenge plot, Detectives Jeppe and Anette must uncover the true puppet master before it’s too late.

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The Tenant
Katrine Engberg

#1 international bestseller

An Indie Next Pick
An O, The Oprah Magazine Titles to Pick Up Now
A People Book Pick
A New York Post Best Book of the Week
A theSkimm Best Book to Read This Winter
A BookPage Top Ten Books for February
A Parade Most Anticipated Books of Early 2020
A Bustle Most Anticipated Books of January 2020
A CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of 2020
A She Reads Most Anticipated Thrillers of 2020

An electrifying work of literary suspense from international bestselling author Katrine Engberg, this stunning debut introduces two police detectives struggling to solve a shocking murder and stop a killer hell-bent on revenge.

When a young woman is discovered brutally murdered in her own apartment, with an intricate pattern of lines carved into her face, Copenhagen police detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner are assigned to the case. In short order, they establish a link between the victim, Julie Stender, and her landlady, Esther de Laurenti, who’s a bit too fond of drink and the host of raucous dinner parties with her artist friends. Esther also turns out to be a budding novelist—and when Julie turns up as a murder victim in the still-unfinished mystery she’s writing, the link between fiction and real life grows both more urgent and more dangerous.

But Esther’s role in this twisted scenario is not quite as clear as it first seems. Is she the culprit—or just another victim, trapped in a twisted game of vengeance? Anette and Jeppe must dig more deeply into the two women’s pasts to discover the identity of the brutal puppet-master pulling the strings in this electrifying literary thriller.

Hailed as “inconceivably thrilling” (Fyens Stiftstidende, Denmark), The Tenant is a work of stunning originality that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

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Temper
by Layne Fargo

Actress Kira finally gets her big break as the star of infamous Malcolm Mercer’s upcoming production. But while Malcolm has his unpredictable moods, it’s theater cofounder Joanna who really begins to test Kira’s limits. As Kira attempts to navigate Joanna’s envious rage and complex relationship with Malcolm, she grows increasingly capable of the same kind of fury and violence Joanna herself threatens. With its topical plot elements and razor-sharp characters, TEMPER is an edgy psychological thriller with lots to say about female anger and ambition. 

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Temper
Layne Fargo

For fans of the high-stakes tension of the New York Times bestsellers Luckiest Girl Alive and The Lying Game, comes “a brilliantly paced thriller that gets under your skin in the best possible way” (Megan Collins, author of The Winter Sister) about female ambition and what happens when fake violence draws real blood.

After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? The mercurial Malcolm Mercer is the director and he’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—on stage and off.

Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s cofounder, Joanna Cuyler, is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic ambitions, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both come to the realization that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they’re capable of themselves.

An edgy, addictive, and fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deceit, and power suited for fans of the film Black Swan, Temper “revels in its mind games, delivering twist after twist as it races toward a Shakespearian climax. The final page will leave you gasping” (Amy Gentry, author of Last Woman Standing).

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The Only Good Indians
by Stephen Graham Jones

Perfect for lovers of Jordan’s Peele’s blend of social commentary and destabilizing horror, THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is a nerve-shattering, thought-provoking page-turner with a hunter’s eye for precision. Four Native American childhood friends are forever rattled by a disturbing incident in their youth. Ever since, the four men have been running for their lives, leaving their culture and traditions behind. Nevertheless, they cannot seem to escape from their pursuer, a relentless, vengeance entity determined to reclaim itself in violence and bone.

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The Only Good Indians
Stephen Graham Jones

“One of 2020’s buzziest horror novels.” —Entertainment Weekly

The Only Good Indians is a masterpiece. Intimate, devastating, brutal, terrifying, yet warm and heartbreaking in the best way, Stephen Graham Jones has written a horror novel about injustice and, ultimately, about hope….And it gives me hope that this book exists and is now in your hands.” —Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World

“Bloody and brutal at times, but also intimate, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful.” —Rebecca Roanhorse, New York Times bestselling author of Trail of Lightning

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

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The Line That Held Us
by David Joy

Darl Moody thought he was shooting a massive buck he’d been tracking, but instead he shoots a man. And not just any man, but a member of the Brewer family, well-known for their violent and vengeful ways. Terrified, Darl calls on his best friend Calvin to help him cover up the crime. But Dwayne Brewer is on their tails soon enough with a nightmarish plot in tow. By turns haunting and poignant, THE LINE THAT HELD US tests the boundaries of survival and revenge.

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The Line That Held Us
David Joy

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The Twisted Ones
by T. Kingfisher

In this gripping fright fest, reminiscent of Stephen King’s earliest tales, one young woman must uncover the terrifying secrets in and around her hoarder grandmother’s old home. When Mouse first finds the journal belonging to her stepgrandfather, she believes the things written in it to be horrific delusions. That is, until she comes face-to-face with the unimaginable beings herself. The only way to move forward from her deepest fears, and the dark secrets of her family’s past, will be to confront them head-on.

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The Twisted Ones
T. Kingfisher

Winner of the RUSA Award for Best Horror

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods in this chilling novel that reads like The Blair Witch Project meets The Andy Griffith Show.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.

From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher, The Twisted Ones is a gripping, terrifying tale bound to keep you up all night—from both fear and anticipation of what happens next.

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The Witch Elm
by Tana French

From the bestselling author Tana French comes a heart-pounding stand-alone mystery-thriller. Toby hasn’t been the same since the night he surprised two burglars in the midst of a robbery and was beaten nearly to death. In an attempt to find stability, Toby returns to his family’s ancestral home to care for his sick uncle. But after a skull is discovered in a trunk of a nearby tree, Toby will have to take a closer look at his past and his family to discover the truth about himself.

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The Witch Elm
Tana French

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The Doll Factory
by Elizabeth Macneal

In THE DOLL FACTORY, Elizabeth Macneal spins a lush, atmospheric tale of obsession set in Victorian-era London. Iris, an attractive young artist, is enamored by the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, but she hardly remembers the unusual curiosities collector, Silas, she met there. Her star is on the rise as she becomes the model for a famed painter. Silas, on the other hand, can’t forget Iris and is determined to make her his. A gothic-influenced psychological thriller, this novel will simultaneously enchant and terrify its readers.

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The Doll Factory
Elizabeth Macneal

The #1 international bestseller and The New York Times Editor’s Choice

“As lush as the novels of Kate Morton and Diane Setterfield, as exciting as The Alienist and Iain Pears’ An Instance of the Fingerpost, this exquisite literary thriller will intrigue book clubs and rivet fans of historical fiction.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

“A lush, evocative Gothic.” —The New York Times Book Review

This terrifically exciting novel will jolt, thrill, and bewitch readers.” —Booklist, starred review

Obsession is an art.

In this “sharp, scary, gorgeously evocative tale of love, art, and obsession” (Paula Hawkins, bestselling author of The Girl on the Train), a beautiful young woman aspires to be an artist, while a man’s dark obsession may destroy her world forever.

Obsession is an art.

In 1850s London, the Great Exhibition is being erected in Hyde Park and, among the crowd watching the dazzling spectacle, two people meet by happenstance. For Iris, an arrestingly attractive aspiring artist, it is a brief and forgettable moment. But for Silas, a curiosity collector enchanted by all things strange and beautiful, the meeting marks a new beginning.

When Iris is asked to model for Pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly, her world begins to expand beyond her wildest dreams—but she has no idea that evil is waiting in the shadows. Silas has only thought of one thing since that chance meeting, and his obsession is darkening by the day.

“A lush, evocative Gothic” (The New York Times Book Review) that is “a perfect blend of froth and substance” (The Washington Post), The Doll Factory will haunt you long after you finish it and is perfect for fans of The Alienist, Drood, and Fingersmith.

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Miracle Creek
by Angie Kim

A small town in Virginia is brought together over an experimental new treatment center that offers its patients a hyperbaric chamber which seems to cure everything from infertility to autism. But this same miracle cure ultimately pulls the community apart after the chamber explodes, killing two patients. Tracing the stories and motivations of its disparate characters, MIRACLE CREEK introduces a plethora of compelling suspects with the sensitivity and insight to make each of them also appear as victims. An astonishing debut, this novel invites understanding alongside suspicion.

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Miracle Creek
Angie Kim

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Photo Credit: Anastasiia Stiahailo/iStock

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