If revenge is a dish best served cold, then why does it make our blood burn so hot? There’s nothing quite like reading about some horrible person getting what they deserve, especially from a likable protagonist who beats them at their own game. Tales of revenge come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, with both happy and sad endings, which keeps the subgenre fresh. So, whether you’re looking for a harrowing tale with a happy ending or a darker thriller with a more nuanced conclusion, here are ten books to sate that craving for vengeance.
Calista and Pilar are about as different as two women can be. Calista, who is from Ireland, fell in love and moved to Cyprus, only to find her husband to be a dark and violent man. Pilar, a young woman from rural Spain, flees to Madrid to avoid a similar fate, working hard to make something of herself. And while these two women don’t know each other, their stories intertwine in whom they meet, where they visit, and one core theme: revenge. A must-read for fans of Elena Ferrante, THE YEARS THAT FOLLOWED is a total knockout of a book with two incredible characters you’re bound to fall in love with.
Acclaimed international bestseller Catherine Dunne’s thrilling US debut is the story of two wronged women bent on revenge at all costs, and “a page-turner that’s both poignant and satisfying” (Booklist).
Revenge is sweeter than regret…
Dublin. Calista is young, beautiful, and headstrong. When she falls in love with the charming, older Alexandros and moves to his native Cyprus, she could never imagine that her whirlwind courtship would lead to a dark and violent marriage. But Calista learns to survive. She knows she will find peace when she can finally seek retribution.
Madrid. Pilar grew up with very little means in rural Spain and finally escaped to a new life. Determined to leave poverty behind her, she plunges into a life of working hard and saving money. Enchanted by an older man, Pilar revels in their romance, her freedom, and accruing success. She’s on the road to achieving her dreams. Yet there is one thing that she is still searching for, the one thing she knows will make her truly happy.
Sweeping across the lush European backdrops of Spain, Greece, and Ireland, The Years That Followed is a gripping, modern telling of a classic story. As two wronged women plot for revenge, their intricately crafted schemes send shockwaves through their families that will echo for many generations to come.
Hollywood has recently been torn wide open as tales of sexual harassment and misconduct are finally coming to light. COMPLICIT tackles the subject through the story of Sarah Lai, a film professor and former producer who is approached by a journalist to tell the story of her former boss, power hungry British billionaire Hugo North. Lai is thrown right back into the world of big productions and even bigger egos, where she witnessed abuses of power, targeted harassment, and a host of other terrible incidents. But as she unburdens her soul as to what she saw, Lai finds that her revenge also comes with acknowledging the part she played in letting these things happen, especially as a means to keep working in her dream industry. A nuanced take on a tricky topic, this novel is a good reminder that even the best vengeance plan can drag you into the crossfire.
After a long-buried, harrowing incident, a woman whose promising film career was derailed has an opportunity for revenge in this visceral and timely thriller about power, privilege, and justice.
A Hollywood has-been, Sarah Lai’s dreams of success behind the camera have been put to the wayside. Now a lecturer at an obscure college, this former producer wants nothing more than to forget those youthful ambitions and push aside any feelings of regret…or guilt.
But when a journalist reaches out to her to discuss her own experience working with the celebrated film producer Hugo North, Sarah can no longer keep silent. This is her last chance to tell her side of the story and maybe even exact belated vengeance.
As Sarah recounts the industry’s dark and sordid secrets, however, she begins to realize that she has a few sins of her own to confess. Now she must confront her choices and ask herself, just who was complicit?
Don’t you just hate it when someone you thought you killed shows up years later? Ellen Saint sure does. When she finds out that Kieran Watts is still alive, she will stop at nothing to make sure he pays for what he did . . . again. But what makes THE HEIGHTS such a compelling read is that we see the story from multiple perspectives, proving that not everything in the narrative is being portrayed objectively. Ellen’s blind need for revenge makes her miss key details provided by other characters who are watching her downfall happen in real time.
“Impossible to resist, impossible to predict, impossible to put down…this is an author at the top of her game.” —Erin Kelly, author of Watch Her Fall
The author of the “masterfully plotted, compulsive page-turner” (The Guardian) Our House takes you on a haunting and nail-biting journey of tragedy and revenge.
The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among warehouses in London. Its roof terrace is so discreet, you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there—a man you’d recognize anywhere. He may be older now, but it’s definitely him.
But that can’t be because he’s been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.
Because you’re the one who killed him.
With Louise Candlish’s signature dark and twisty prose, The Heights shows “the ferocity of maternal love” (Hannah Beckerman, author of If Only I Could Tell You). It is a unputdownable thriller that will keep you guessing until the final page.
Revenge can make for some strange bedfellows. Ike and Buddy Lee are connected by little except for their rap sheets and their sons, who are married to each other. Well, and that neither of them are thrilled their sons are gay. After their sons are both murdered, these fathers come together in order to find the killer and avenge their deaths, no matter the cost. A tale of vengeance, grief, and reconciliation, RAZORBLADE TEARS will have you questioning your prejudices and assumptions about others, and whether your own beliefs are as rock solid as you think.
What might seem like a small thing to one person can be a huge, life-altering deal to another. Take Kerrie, whose life was ruined by Jordana, a now-rich, successful head of a wedding concierge service. For years, one interaction between them has dominated Kerrie’s life, ruining everything else that was good in her world. But now, Kerrie has the chance to repay the favor and destroy everything Jordana has worked so hard for. Watching Kerrie’s efforts to take down Jordana, and seeing the events through Jordana’s perspective, creates a twisting kaleidoscope of revenge and power that makes PRETTY REVENGE impossible to put down.
The name of the game is revenge—no matter the cost—in this emotionally charged thriller reminiscent of The Wife Between Us and The Perfect Nanny.
Kerrie O’Malley, jobless and in an unfulfilling relationship, can isolate the singular moment in her life when things veered off course—the night she was irrevocably wronged by someone she looked up to. Eighteen years later, when Kerrie sees the very woman who destroyed her life on television, a fire ignites inside her. The stakes are high. The risks are perilous. But she’ll stop at nothing to achieve the retribution she deserves.
Jordana Pierson is a gilded New Yorker who appears to have it all: wealth, glamour, a successful and handsome husband, and a thriving wedding concierge business. Her record is spotless. Her business is flourishing. No one knows the truth about her and the dark shadows of her past.
No one, that is, except Kerrie.
Exploring just how far someone will go for vengeance, Pretty Revenge is a riveting, compulsively readable novel bursting with twists and turns and plenty of suspense.
Some acts are so heinous, it feels like no act of revenge will make them better. When Trixie claims her ex-boyfriend Jason raped her at a party, her parents immediately believe her. The rest of the town, however, does not, believing Jason’s claim that it was a consensual romantic encounter. However, when Jason dies in an apparent suicide, things only get worse as the town becomes more adamant that Trixie is to blame, either because she drove him to it or because she actually murdered him. THE TENTH CIRCLE is all about the power of family and horrors past, and it wouldn’t be a Jodi Picoult novel without a killer twist to really blow your mind.
From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult, a powerful novel that explores the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and questions whether you can reinvent yourself in the course of a lifetime—or if your mistakes are carried forever.
Fourteen-year-old Trixie Stone is in love for the first time. She’s also a straight-A high school student, pretty and popular, and the light of her father’s life... Comic book artist Daniel Stone would do anything to protect his daughter. But when a single act of violence shatters her innocence, seemingly mild-mannered Daniel’s convictions are put to the test—while his own shockingly tumultuous past, hidden even from his family, comes to light. Now, everything Trixie’s ever believed about her hero, her father, seems to be a lie as Daniel ventures to hell and back, seeking revenge. Will the price be the bond they share?
Revealing an “exceptional, unflinching, and utterly chilling” (The Washington Post) portrait of today’s youth culture, Jodi Picoult pulls readers inside a shattered family facing the toughest questions of morality and forgiveness.
Revenge can reveal what it is we are truly capable of, as dark and heinous as that might be. Blum is a young undertaker in a small town, married to the love of her life, a cop named Mark. When Mark is killed in what looks to be an accidental hit-and-run, Blum spirals into despair, only going on so she can protect her children. But when she finds out his death was likely at the hands of seedy criminals he was close to exposing, she will use everything from her past, and her current occupation, to have the killer join her husband six feet under the ground. WOMAN OF THE DEAD is a dark tale, equal parts heart-wrenching and gruesome, about what some will do for love.
The #1 international bestseller praised as “one of the most arresting thrillers I’ve read in years” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner), Woman of the Dead is the darkly thrilling tale of Brünhilde Blum, a successful undertaker whose happiness is dashed by a tragedy that sets her on a path of revenge.
For the past eight years, Blum has had a good life—a life that masks the terrible secrets of her past. She is a successful undertaker, a doting mother, and the loving wife of a decorated police officer.
Then in one devastating moment, a hit-and-run changes everything. As Blum’s grief over the death of her husband, Mark, overwhelms her, only her two little girls can drag her back to the land of the living. Time passes quietly until while packing up Mark’s office, Blum discovers a recorded conversation from a case he was investigating. She soon learns Mark’s death was no accident—it was murder—and Blum dives headfirst into the abyss to find out why and have her revenge.
Woman of the Dead, the first book in a trilogy, is an unforgettable thriller about the lengths one passionate woman will go to for vengeance and the tug-of-war between good and evil that exists in all of us. Vivid, tense, and written with breakneck narration, this novel introduces Bernhard Aichner as a rising star in crime fiction.
You can’t have a revenge list without Stephen King—it’s sacrilege! And while there are plenty of stories to choose from, readers may be less familiar with the dark and disturbing tale of THINNER. Billy Halleck is living his best life, until he fatally hits a woman with his car and uses his connections to get off easy. The woman’s father curses him with a single word: thinner. At first, Billy’s drop in weight is a welcome change, making him leaner than ever, but as the dramatic loss continues, he becomes worried he might be sick. No matter how much he eats, he continues to waste away, edging toward a painful death. But in true Stephen King form, that’s not even the worst of it. Definitely not for those who are faint of heart, this story will have your blood running cold.
The “extraordinary” (Booklist) novel of a cursed man’s quest to find the source of his nightmare and to reverse it before he becomes…nothing at all. This #1 New York Times bestseller from Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, “pulsates with evil…[and] will have you on the edge of your seat” (Publishers Weekly).
“You can’t do anything… It’s gone too far. You understand, Halleck? Too…far.
Attorney Billy Halleck seriously enjoys living his life of upper-class excess. He’s got it all—an expensive home in Connecticut, a loving family…and fifty extra pounds that his doctor repeatedly warns will be the death of him. Then, in a moment of carelessness, Halleck commits vehicular manslaughter when he strikes a jaywalking old woman crossing the street. But Halleck has some powerful local connections, and gets off with a slap on the wrist…much to the fury of the woman’s mysterious and ancient father, who exacts revenge with a single word: “Thinner.” Now a terrified Halleck finds the weight once so difficult to shed dropping effortlessly—and rapidly—by the week. Soon there will be nothing left of Billy Halleck…unless he can somehow locate the source of his living nightmare and reverse what’s happened to him before he utterly wastes away…
English professor Scarlett Clark has a taste for vengeance, which comes in the form of hunting down and murdering the worst men at Gorman University. And there sure are a lot of them. At the same time Clark is plotting her next big kill, freshman Carly Schiller is looking to take bloody revenge on the man who sexually assaulted her friend and roommate. How will these women’s paths converge, and will they be caught on their morally gray missions? THEY NEVER LEARN presents two different stories with the same core of fighting against the patriarchy in a society that does too little to protect the most vulnerable.
From the author of the “raw, ingenious, and utterly fearless” (Wendy Walker, USA TODAY bestselling author) Temper comes a dynamic psychological thriller about two women who give bad men exactly what they deserve—perfect for fans of Killing Eve and Chelsea Cain.
Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.
Every year, Dr. Clark searches for the worst man at Gorman University—professor, student, or otherwise—and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself…but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Dr. Clark insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge. Everything’s going according to her master plan…until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.
Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay...and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality.
“A gorgeously-written ragestorm of a thriller” (Wendy Heard, author of The Kill Club), They Never Learn is a feminist serial killer story that you won’t be able to put down.
Sometimes, tales of revenge veer away from the human world, instead having the characters fight against forces of nature. For Samantha and her half-brother, Benjamin, living in Civil War–era Texas, the target of their quest for revenge is an infamous panther who roams along the Rio Grande. It killed their mother and brutally maimed Samantha, crimes for which Samantha is determined to see it pay. Along the way, they rope in a soft-hearted preacher and a Tejano outlaw, catching the eye of a hapless, sadistic Confederate soldier as well, who begins to hunt them. Epic in scope but warm in its portrayals of found family, THE WHICH WAY TREE is a perfectly balanced story of hunter and hunted.
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