10 Mysterious Novels Interwoven with Dreams and Memories

Sara Roncero-Menendez
April 29 2021
Share 10 Mysterious Novels Interwoven with Dreams and Memories

The mind is a powerful thing, able to process complex thoughts and concepts, come up with brilliant ideas, and navigate us through the day. But brains aren’t perfect—with memories often lost or warped over time or injury, and dreams often coming out a mangled mess that frightens more than enlightens. In stories, authors often use the two to trick, confuse, and even provide tantalizing hints to the reader—adding twists and turns to their plot. If you’re looking for a dreamy thriller or a mystery of memory, these books will capture your imagination, both waking and dreaming.

Love Water Memory
by Jennie Shortridge

Lucie Walker came into the world in the weirdest way: standing knee-deep in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay with no memory of her life for the last 39 years. Clearly, something horrible has happened, but she can’t remember what could have been so traumatic as to induce full memory loss. When her fiancé arrives at the hospital to tell her all about her life and their upcoming wedding, she’s not sure she can trust his version of who she was. A deep psychological read that imagines approaching one’s life from an outsider’s perspective, LOVE WATER MEMORY reminds us that it’s never too late to step back and reexamine what’s important.

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Love Water Memory
Jennie Shortridge

Inspired by a true story, this bittersweet novel about a woman with a rare form of amnesia explores the raw, tender complexities of relationships and personal identity. Library Journal calls it “an emotional heart-tugger that doesn’t go where readers might expect; a fascinating turnabout...”

If you could do it all over again, would you still choose him?

At age thirty-nine, Lucie Walker has no choice but to start her life over when she comes to, up to her knees in the chilly San Francisco Bay, with no idea how she got there or who she is. Her memory loss is caused by an emotional trauma she knows nothing about, and only when handsome, quiet Grady Goodall arrives at the hospital does she learn she has a home, a career, and a wedding just two months away. What went wrong? Grady seems to care for her, but Lucie is no more sure of him than she is of anything. As she collects the clues of her past self, she unlocks the mystery of what happened to her. The painful secrets she uncovers could hold the key to her future—if she trusts her heart enough to guide her.

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Mirrorland
by Carole Johnstone

Childhood homes hold a lot of memories, and not always for the better. Cat’s family home in Edinburgh is full of dark moments she’d rather forget in her sunny new life in LA. But when her twin sister, El, goes missing while living in that home, Cat returns to confront their lives and the titular “Mirrorland”—a space under the stairs where she and her sister would pretend to have all sorts of strange adventures. But is Cat remembering her childhood correctly? Or was it all a dream? MIRRORLAND will have you working overtime trying to untangle the tale of two sisters and a dreary gothic house steeped in secrets.

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Mirrorland
Carole Johnstone

“Dark and devious... Beautifully written and plotted with a watchmaker’s precision.Stephen King

“A dark, twisty, and richly atmospheric exploration of the power of imagination” Ruth Ware, author of One by One and The Woman in Cabin 10

With the startling twists of Gone Girl and the haunting emotional power of Room, Mirrorland is a thrilling work of psychological suspense about twin sisters, the man they both love, and the dark childhood they can’t leave behind.

Cat lives in Los Angeles, far away from 36 Westeryk Road, the imposing gothic house in Edinburgh where she and her estranged twin sister, El, grew up. As girls, they invented Mirrorland, a dark, imaginary place under the pantry stairs full of pirates, witches, and clowns. These days Cat rarely thinks about their childhood home, or the fact that El now lives there with her husband Ross.

But when El mysteriously disappears after going out on her sailboat, Cat is forced to return to 36 Westeryk Road, which has scarcely changed in twenty years. The grand old house is still full of shadowy corners, and at every turn Cat finds herself stumbling on long-held secrets and terrifying ghosts from the past. Because someone—El?—has left Cat clues in almost every room: a treasure hunt that leads right back to Mirrorland, where she knows the truth lies crouched and waiting...

A twisty, dark, and brilliantly crafted thriller about love and betrayal, redemption and revenge, Mirrorland is a propulsive, page-turning debut about the power of imagination and the price of freedom.

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The Memory Collectors
by Kim Neville

Have you ever loved an object that had happy memories attached to it, or else thrown out something associated with a painful period in your life? These physical reminders can carry a lot of weight, both physical and emotional. THE MEMORY COLLECTORS follows Ev, a woman with the ability to feel the emotions people leave behind, good or bad, and who sells the less-harmful ones. She is approached by Harriet, a woman who has collected thousands of these trinkets that are holding on to potent feelings. As the two go through the collection together, the growing dark sentiments around the objects threaten to take them both down a path to ruin.

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The Memory Collectors
Kim Neville

Perfect for fans of The Scent Keeper and The Keeper of Lost Things, an atmospheric and enchanting debut novel about two women haunted by buried secrets but bound by a shared gift and the power the past holds over our lives.

Ev has a mysterious ability, one that she feels is more a curse than a gift. She can feel the emotions people leave behind on objects and believes that most of them need to be handled extremely carefully, and—if at all possible—destroyed. The harmless ones she sells at Vancouver’s Chinatown Night Market to scrape together a living, but even that fills her with trepidation. Meanwhile, in another part of town, Harriet hoards thousands of these treasures and is starting to make her neighbors sick as the overabundance of heightened emotions start seeping through her apartment walls.

When the two women meet, Harriet knows that Ev is the only person who can help her make something truly spectacular of her collection. A museum of memory that not only feels warm and inviting but can heal the emotional wounds many people unknowingly carry around. They only know of one other person like them, and they fear the dark effects these objects had on him. Together, they help each other to develop and control their gift, so that what happened to him never happens again. But unbeknownst to them, the same darkness is wrapping itself around another, dragging them down a path that already destroyed Ev’s family once, and threatens to annihilate what little she has left.

The Memory Collectors casts the everyday in a new light, speaking volumes to the hold that our past has over us—contained, at times, in seemingly innocuous objects—and uncovering a truth that both women have tried hard to bury with their pasts: not all magpies collect shiny things—sometimes they gather darkness.

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Faye, Faraway
by Helen Fisher

Faye is a happy mother of two with a big hole in her heart from losing her mother at a young age. But she gets the chance of a lifetime when she suddenly finds herself back in 1977 as an adult able to get close to her mother in a way she never could before. The two become fast friends, but there’s a disconnect between what she remembers from childhood and what she’s experiencing now. Can she tell her mother who she is, or will it ruin the tenuous relationship they’ve built? FAYE, FARAWAY is an emotional ride that dives into what we know of the people in our lives and what passes from mother to daughter, even if through time travel.

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Faye, Faraway
Helen Fisher

A heartfelt, spellbinding, and irresistible debut novel for fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Outlander that movingly examines loss, faith, and love as it follows a grown woman who travels back in time to be reunited with the mother she lost when she was a child.

Faye is a thirty-seven-year-old happily married mother of two young daughters. Every night, before she puts them to bed, she whispers to them: “You are good, you are kind, you are clever, you are funny.” She’s determined that they never doubt for a minute that their mother loves them unconditionally. After all, her own mother Jeanie had died when she was only seven years old and Faye has never gotten over that intense pain of losing her.

But one day, her life is turned upside down when she finds herself in 1977, the year before her mother died. Suddenly, she has the chance to reconnect with her long-lost mother, and even meets her own younger self, a little girl she can barely remember. Jeanie doesn’t recognize Faye as her daughter, of course, even though there is something eerily familiar about her...

As the two women become close friends, they share many secrets—but Faye is terrified of revealing the truth about her identity. Will it prevent her from returning to her own time and her beloved husband and daughters? What if she’s doomed to remain in the past forever? Faye knows that eventually she will have to choose between those she loves in the past and those she loves in the here and now, and that knowledge presents her with an impossible choice.

Emotionally gripping and ineffably sweet Faye, Faraway is a brilliant exploration of the grief associated with unimaginable loss and the magic of being healed by love.

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The Truth About Melody Browne
by Lisa Jewell

Melody Browne’s whole childhood is a mystery, as she lost her memory in a tragic fire—a fact that never bothered her much. After an encounter with a hypnotist at a show, however, a flood of fractured memories returns, revealing more than she realized she was missing. Setting off on a journey to figure out what happened, Melody will meet strangers who love her like family and find places that feel like home. THE TRUTH ABOUT MELODY BROWNE has twists you’ll never see coming, though would you expect any less from Lisa Jewell, the queen of personal thrillers?

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The Truth About Melody Browne
Lisa Jewell

This “touching, insightful, and gripping story” (Sophie Kinsella, #1 New York Times bestselling author) from the instant New York Times bestselling author of Then She Was Gone follows a young woman searching for answers about her unknown past and the mysterious fire that irrevocably changed her life.

When she was a child, Melody Browne’s house burned down, destroying all her family’s possessions and her memories. Ever since this tragic event, Melody Browne has had no recollection of her life before she was rescued from the flames.

Now in her early thirties, Melody is a single mother, living in the middle of London with her teenaged son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody has no desire to reconnect until one night, while attending a hypnotist show with a date, she faints. When she comes around, she is suddenly overwhelmed with fragmented memories of her life before that fateful fire.

Slowly, she begins the arduous process of piecing together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her up and down the countryside, to seaside towns to the back streets of London, where she meets strangers who seem to love her like their own. But the more answers she uncovers, the more questions she is left with, and Melody can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever know the whole truth about her past.

“An absolute must-read” (Cosmopolitan, UK), The Truth About Melody Browne “will make you laugh, cry—then tell all your friends about it” (Daily Record).

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Vanishing Acts
by Jodi Picoult

How sure are you of the life you’ve lived? Delia Hopkins was pretty sure she knew what her childhood was like, having been raised by a single father. But as her wedding day approaches, she is plagued by half-remembered images of her youth—memories that only come into sharper focus when a police officer shows up at her door. Will she be able to remember what happened to her in time, or will the past only serve to ruin her future? Ending in a thrilling, heart-stopping trial, VANISHING ACTS deals with how far a parent will go to protect their kid.

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Vanishing Acts
Jodi Picoult

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of modern classics such as My Sister’s Keeper and Small Great Things weaves a “richly textured and engaging” (The Boston Globe) tale that explores what happens when a young woman’s past—a past she didn’t even know she had—catches up to her just in time to threaten her future.

How do you recover the past when it was never yours to lose?

Delia Hopkins has led a charmed life. Raised in rural New Hampshire by her beloved father, she now has a young daughter, a handsome fiancé, and her own search-and-rescue bloodhound, which she uses to find missing persons. But as Delia plans her wedding, she is plagued by flashbacks of a life she can’t recall…until a policeman knocks on her door, revealing a secret about herself that irrevocably changes her life.

With Vanishing Acts, Jodi Picoult explores how life might not always turn out the way we imagined; how the people we love and trust can suddenly change before our very eyes; how vanished memories can evolve into threat. Featuring characters that “resonate with authenticity” (People), Vanishing Acts masterfully explores a serious topic with understanding, insight, and compassion.

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What Alice Forgot
by Liane Moriarty

Life can sometimes pass in the blink of an eye, but hopefully, you never lose a whole decade in one moment of closing your eyes. In seconds, Alice goes from a happy 29-year-old woman, pregnant and in love, to a soon-to-be divorcée with three kids and ten extra years added to her life. She has to figure out just how things have gone so horribly awry in just ten short years, piecing together mistakes and secrets in the hopes of getting back on track. WHAT ALICE FORGOT is a study in just how different we can become given the right (or wrong) choices, and how little we can really know ourselves and others in the end.

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What Alice Forgot
Liane Moriarty

Welcome to a lighthearted, funny page-turner wrapped around a bigger question: Are you the kind of parent you thought you’d be before you had kids? If the answer is a resounding no, you must meet Alice.

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The Girl from Widow Hills
by Megan Miranda

Arden Maynor is a miracle. As a child, she sleepwalked right out of her house and into a rainstorm, disappearing for days, only to be found alive and mostly well. The infamy that followed was too much, and Arden moved far away from her hometown, changing her name to leave the past behind. Her plan works, allowing her to live in obscurity, until one day she realizes she’s been sleepwalking again, and this time she wakes up standing over the corpse of someone she knew in her previous life. A thriller from start to finish, THE GIRL FROM WIDOW HILLS will have you glued to the page through every narrative twist and turn.

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The Girl from Widow Hills
Megan Miranda

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last House Guest—a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick—comes a riveting new novel of psychological suspense about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma who wakes one evening to find a corpse at her feet.

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again, in this propulsive page-turner from suspense master Megan Miranda.

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The Elizas
by Sara Shepard

When Eliza Fontaine was saved from the bottom of a swimming pool, her family assumed it was another suicide attempt. But Eliza, just weeks away from having her novel published, swears she was pushed, even if she can’t remember by whom. As she sets out to piece together that fateful night, she finds that people are acting like the events of her book really happened, and all the while she is being stalked by a shadowy figure. Could her novel have the answers she’s looking for, or is this blurring of reality and fantasy an indication of something more sinister? THE ELIZAS is a must for fans of Hitchcock looking for a psychological thriller that pushes the boundaries of what’s possible.

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The Elizas
Sara Shepard

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MENTIONED IN:

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Behind Her Eyes
by Sarah Pinborough

Lucid dreaming can allow you to take control of scary situations or experience things you never thought you could while you sleep. For Louise, who has fallen for another woman’s husband, it allows her to interact with them both in an intricate and intimate affair that quickly goes wrong. After all, she’s not the only one who can use this technique to get what she wants. With a twist ending you will not see coming, BEHIND HER EYES is a master class in manipulation, deceit, and the lengths we will go to fulfill our obsessions.

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Behind Her Eyes
Sarah Pinborough

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Photo credit: istock / yasindmrblk

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