You know that line that occurs in most horror movies where the killer says, “No one can hear you scream,” and the thought is both chilling and comical? Well, these authors have taken that to the extreme. If you’ve ever been somewhere truly isolated, you know how terrifying it is when you realize how futile calling for help would be. And if you were thinking of going on a little solitude retreat sometime soon, you might want to save these reads for after the trip.
10 Remote Thrillers That’ll Chill You to the Bone
Intense and suspenseful, this thriller will have you glued to the page as you desperately hope for the characters to escape. Jane—not her real name—is trapped on a remote farm somewhere in the United Kingdom with Len. He kidnapped her seven years ago and has broken her in every possible way so that she’s beyond hope. That is, until she finds out she is pregnant. Now she will do anything it takes to protect her unborn child and survive. However, all of her plans fall apart when Len brings another victim to the farm. Can she save herself, her baby, and this new stranger from a horrible fate?
“Immediate, intense, gripping, taut, terrifying, moving, and brilliant.” —Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Invisible Girl
“Brilliantly written...terrifying.”—Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author of One by One
A woman being held captive is willing to risk everything to save herself, her unborn child, and her captor’s latest victim in this “intense, dark, and utterly chilling” (Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts) thriller in the tradition of Misery and Room.
On an isolated farm in the United Kingdom, a woman is trapped by the monster who kidnapped her seven years ago. When she discovers she is pregnant, she resolves to protect her child, no matter the cost, and starts to meticulously plot her escape. But when another woman is brought into the fold on the farm, her plans go awry. Can she save herself, her child, and this innocent woman at the same time? Or is she doomed to spend the remainder of her life as a captive?
Intense, dark, and utterly gripping The Last Thing to Burn “explores the resilience of the human spirit, even in the face of unfathomable evil. This harrowing journey is one worth taking” (Publishers Weekly).
THE BLACKHOUSE takes place on the remote island of Kilmeray in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, amidst an atmospheric pummel of constant storms. Sounds solitary enough, but the characters within the town deal with their separate secrets that isolate them even more. We start with the story of Maggie MacKay, who’s always felt a darkness within herself, a feeling that she is not quite right. When she was five years old, Maggie, who had never been to Kilmeray before, infamously claimed that she’d been violently murdered there. Her accusations compelled her mother, a medium, to take her to Kilmeray, drew in a media frenzy, and created rifts and anger in the community, forcing them to leave. Now, twenty years later, after her mother’s death, Maggie is back on the island looking for answers, but is she willing to risk her life for the truth? While that haunting mystery unfolds, we also follow Robert Reid, who moved his family to the Outer Hebrides in the 1990s as he desperately struggled to find peace and community while hiding from a terrible secret. Johnstone expertly captures the feeling of being an isolated outsider in a small town that must knit together to protect their collective dark secrets.
From the author of the “dark and devious...beautifully written” (Stephen King) Mirrorland comes a richly atmospheric thriller set on an isolated Scottish island where nothing is as it seems and shocking twists lie around every corner.
A remote village. A deadly secret. An outsider who knows the truth.
Robert Reid moved his family to Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in the 1990s, driven by hope, craving safety and community, and hiding a terrible secret. But despite his best efforts to fit in, Robert is always seen as an outsider. And as the legendary and violent Hebridean storms rage around him, he begins to unravel, believing his fate on the remote island of Kilmeray cannot be escaped.
For her entire life, Maggie MacKay has sensed something was wrong with her. When Maggie was five years old, she announced that a man on Kilmeray—a place she’d never visited—had been murdered. Her unfounded claim drew media attention and turned the locals against each other, creating rifts that never mended.
Nearly twenty years later, Maggie is determined to find out what really happened, and what the islanders are hiding. But when she begins to receive ominous threats, Maggie is forced to consider how much she is willing to risk to discover the horrifying truth.
Unnerving, enthralling, and filled with gothic suspense, The Blackhouse is a spectacularly sinister tale readers won’t soon forget.
Author Brandon Massey has earned his reputation for page-turning thrillers that will have you guessing until the very end—and THE QUIET ONES is one of his most bizarre. Mallory’s mother was murdered by an ex-boyfriend twenty-five years ago, throwing her and her sister into the separate foster homes. Luckily, Mallory was taken in by loving parents and found a successful career as an investigative journalist. She never gave up on finding her sister. So, when she finally makes a connection on a genealogy site, she doesn’t hesitate to make her way to rural Georgia. But what she finds in the backwoods is the creepy old Southern mansion Sanctuary run by a man known only as “Father.” This might be her most important investigative story yet, as Mallory looks for the truth about her last biological family member.
ALL THE WHITE SPACES is both a suspenseful thriller and engrossing historical fiction, set just after the First World War in the frozen Weddell Sea when a Polar expedition goes horribly wrong. Jonathan Morgan thought stowing away on the world-famous James “Australis” Randall’s expedition would give him the freedom to live as his true gender outside of strict societal expectations. And it did provide a sense of comfort to him for a while, until the expedition is suddenly stranded in Antarctica with no maps and no one around to save them. As they struggle for survival, something more deadly than the temperature begins to lure them out and pick them off one by one. Wilkes wonderfully combines a high-stakes-high-seas adventure with a horrifying survival element, nuanced emotional drama, and a wonderful historic backdrop.
Something deadly and mysterious stalks the members of an isolated polar expedition in this haunting and spellbinding historical horror novel, perfect for fans of Dan Simmons’s The Terror and Alma Katsu’s The Hunger.
In the wake of the First World War, Jonathan Morgan stows away on an Antarctic expedition, determined to find his rightful place in the world of men. Aboard the expeditionary ship of his hero, the world-famous explorer James “Australis” Randall, Jonathan may live as his true self—and true gender—and have the adventures he has always been denied. But not all is smooth sailing: the war casts its long shadow over them all, and grief, guilt, and mistrust skulk among the explorers.
When disaster strikes in Antarctica’s frozen Weddell Sea, the men must take to the land and overwinter somewhere which immediately seems both eerie and wrong; a place not marked on any of their part-drawn maps of the vast white continent. Now completely isolated, Randall’s expedition has no ability to contact the outside world. And no one is coming to rescue them.
In the freezing darkness of the Polar night, where the aurora creeps across the sky, something terrible has been waiting to lure them out into its deadly landscape…
As the harsh Antarctic winter descends, this supernatural force will prey on their deepest desires and deepest fears to pick them off one by one. It is up to Jonathan to overcome his own ghosts before he and the expedition are utterly destroyed.
A true paranormal horror set in the woods with religious cults is the stuff of nightmares (or in this horror reader’s mind, the stuff of dreams), and Nick Cutter masters the rising suspense and dread of supernatural horror beautifully. Three mercenaries, known as “the Englishman” when they work together, are hired for a job that seems simple enough: check in on a lady’s nephew, who’s been taken in by a cult. But once they are alone in the isolated woods of New Mexico at the Little Heaven religious settlement, things turn dark. In a community already brimming with lies and paranoia, where all the exits are slowly closed off, the madness sets in and hell on earth takes over. If the mercenaries want to survive, they will have to fight their way out.
A “gripping and terrifying story…and one not to be missed” (Robert McCammon) from the acclaimed author of The Troop and The Deep!
A trio of mismatched mercenaries—Micah Shughrue, Minerva Atwater, and Ebenzer Elkins, colloquially known as “the Englishman”—is hired by young Ellen Bellhaven for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven, where a clandestine religious cult holds sway. But shortly after they arrive, things begin to turn ominous. There are stirrings in the woods and over the treetops—and above all else, the brooding shape of a monolith known as the Black Rock casts its terrible pall. Paranoia and distrust soon grip the settlement. Escape routes are gradually cut off as events spiral toward madness. Hell—or the closest thing to it—invades Little Heaven. All present here are now forced to take a stand and fight back, but whatever has cast its dark eye on Little Heaven is marshaling its power—and it wants them all…
“A slow boil of unrelenting terror and inescapable consequences. Nick Cutter ups his game every time. Beautifully written—menace drips from every page.” —Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author
“A sprawling epic that can stand alongside the best of ‘80s King, Barker, and McCammon. Fun, nasty, smart, and scary, and in all the right places.” —Paul Tremblay, acclaimed author of A Head Full of Ghosts and Disappearance at Devil’s Rock
Originally published in Japan in the ’80s, THE DECAGON HOUSE by Yukito Ayatsuji sparked an incredible revival of the Japanese mystery scene. If you love reading mystery novels for the thrill of solving the case and figuring out how the killer managed to do it, you’ll love puzzling this one out. A group of students from the university mystery club plans a trip to a remote island where several people were brutally murdered the year before. Now that they’re trapped, they’re being hunted down one by one. Who is behind these murders and are they all connected to the previous cases or is there something about this group of students in particular? This is a remote mystery treat and also makes me wish my university had a mystery club . . . though after reading this, maybe it’s best they didn’t.
This is an incredible atmospheric novel where the setting of the dying town of Blackmore is a strong character, creating an isolating, dark, and oppressive blanket over the narrative. Rocked by the disappearance of a young woman named Shayna Fowles, the townspeople are on edge, yet even the most harmless people in town seem to be hiding something. So, when a mysterious woman named Clare comes to town asking questions about Shayna, everyone wants answers from her. Why is she in Blackmore? How does she know Shayna? And what is she running from?
In this taut psychological thriller, Clare is on the run from her past, from her husband, and from her own secrets. When she turns up alone in a remote mining town asking about the local girl who disappeared, everyone wants to know who Clare really is and what she’s hiding. As it turns out, she’s hiding a lot. But who isn’t in this town?
This incredible debut takes remote thriller to a new extreme, starting off in the 60° North Parallel in Alaska where thousands go missing every year. SLEEPING BEAR imagines the likely events behind such a missing person case. After the unexpected death of her husband, army veteran Cassie spends a few days camping and healing in the Alaskan wilderness before she begins her new job. But Cassie never shows up at work and her dog Maverick is found injured at the destroyed campsite. It’s up to her father to scour the Alaskan wilderness for clues to find out what happened to her. There is so much suspense and a great build up in this novel so I don’t want to give too much away, but just know, with two isolated race-against-the-clock plots it’ll have your heart beating fast on every page.
“Sleeping Bear is…one of those rare novels that keeps getting better and better and better. Remember the author’s name—Connor Sullivan.” —James Patterson
A former Army veteran seeking solitude in the Alaskan wilderness after her husband’s death finds herself a pawn in a deadly game with Russia in this white-knuckled and “heart-stopping thrill ride” (Chris Hauty, author of Deep State).
After her young husband’s untimely death, Army veteran Cassie Gale decides to take a few days of solitude in the Alaskan wilderness before she starts her new job. But when she fails to show up on her first day and her dog is discovered injured at her wrecked campsite, her father knows that this is much more than a camping trip gone awry.
As it turns out, Cassie’s not the first person to disappear without a trace in Alaska’s northern interior. Bears. Wolves. Avalanches. Frostbite. Starvation. There are many ways to die in here. But not all disappearances can be explained. Cassie’s is one of them, along with a number of other outdoor enthusiasts who have vanished in recent years.
Regaining consciousness in a Russian prison, Cassie finds herself trapped in a system designed to ensure that no one ever escapes alive. It will require all her grit and skills to survive. Meanwhile, her father rushes to outrun the clock, scouring thousands of acres, only to realize she’s been taken by a nefarious adversary—one with the power of the Eastern Bloc behind it. Ties to his past life, one full of secrets, threaten to surface. He knows there’s a price to be paid, but he’s determined it won’t be his daughter.
Timely, electrifying, and perfect for fans of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, “Sleeping Bear clamps you in its jaws and doesn’t let go. A fierce, relentless beast of a novel” (Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author).
As a struggling writer, Alex believes she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime when she is invited to a writing retreat at Roza Vallo’s remote estate. When they arrive, all five writers are informed that they must complete a brand-new novel by the end of the month and the best one will win a seven-figure publishing deal. Finally, Alex feels like everything is coming together—until people start dying. They’re all trapped, and Alex must literally write for her life. I mean, I knew the writing world could be cutthroat, but last I checked they hadn’t meant that literally. Well, I guess Julia Bartz did with this enthralling mystery thriller.
The Plot meets Please Join Us in this psychological suspense debut about a young author at an exclusive writer’s retreat that descends into a nightmare.
Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement.
But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she’s desperate to discover the truth and save herself.
A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female friendships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.
Keeping up with our theme of terrifying reads set in Alaska, this one is an isolating and chilling medical thriller. With suicide rates climbing, Dr. Spears can’t help but think something bigger is awry. So when one of his patients from a remote community commits suicide, he feels personally responsible and fears that he may have missed something crucial. When another patient in the community is in crisis, Dr. Spears immediately flies to Utqiagvik, Alaska, only to find out that his patient is now missing. With the help of the town’s social worker, Dr. Spears will have to battle his demons if he hopes to save another life. As he digs deeper into the case, he can’t help but wonder if something else is at play: Is a drug lord involved? Is there something wrong with the new antidepressants he’s been prescribing? Kalla paints an incredibly suspenseful and heartbreaking tale, made even more frightening by the Alaskan chill.
A psychiatrist’s patients are dying—are they suicides related to a new antidepressant, or is there something even more sinister going on in the northernmost town in the US? A riveting new thriller from internationally bestselling author Daniel Kalla.
After Brianna O’Brien takes her own life, Dr. David Spears blames himself. Though he understands suicides can be a tragic occurrence in psychiatric practice, this loss hits him particularly hard. With Brianna, he’s convinced he missed crucial warning signs. When David suspects Brianna’s friend, Amka Obed—whom he’s also been treating virtually—is in crisis, he flies to the remote Arctic community of Utqiagvik, Alaska, only to discover that she has disappeared.
While the regional police are confident that Amka will turn up safe, David and the town’s social worker, Taylor Holmes, have serious doubts. Each battling their own demons, David and Taylor launch an investigation, determined to help uncover the truth about what happened to Amka. David wonders if a new antidepressant he recently prescribed both Amka and Brianna played a role in what took place. Taylor, who’s familiar with the locals, suspects a drug lord with connections to Amka’s boyfriend.
Who is right? Where is Amka? Is she still alive?
What begins as a missing persons inquiry and suspicion over a pharmaceutical cover-up quickly evolves into a terrifying journey of treachery and death—one that will horrify this isolated town and endanger many more lives.
Photo credit: iStock / Alas_spb