Perhaps like many readers, my first introduction to Shirley Jackson’s writing was during my high school junior year English Lit class when our teacher assigned the 1948 short story “The Lottery.” Controversial at the time of its initial publication and still controversial today, “The Lottery” spoke to my somewhat angsty, morbid attitude that I’d hoped was coming across as cool and edgy (it wasn’t). Still a huge fan to this day, I admire Shirley Jackson’s ability to skillfully combine humor, horror, and societal critiques, which has echoed throughout the creative community for decades, influencing TV shows, movies, and—of course—many books. So, if you’ve already read all that she has to offer, here are a few more books that are perfect for Shirley Jackson fans.
8 Quietly Creepy Books for Shirley Jackson Fans
If you loved THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, then you’ll love DELICIOUS MONSTERS. Set in northern Ontario, the story follows two young women in two different timelines. Daisy is a teenager just trying to figure out who she is, why her mother inherited a mansion from an uncle she never met, and why her ex-boyfriend dumped her. Oh, and why she can see dead people. Meanwhile, a decade later, Brittney is a young woman trying to forget about her abusive mother—bestselling author of a book on her experience at the “Miracle Mansion”—while also investigating the death of a young Black girl that occurred in said mansion. Daisy and Brittney are both in search of the truth, and their stories converge at the end in a thrilling and emotional twist.
The Haunting of Hill House meets Sadie in this evocative and mind-bending psychological thriller following two teen girls navigating the treacherous past of a mysterious mansion ten years apart.
Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…
A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?
As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.
Described by author Chris Bohjalian as the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson,” Jennifer McMahon creates a part monster hunt, part psychological thriller in CHILDREN ON THE HILL. Switching between two separate timelines, the story follows Violet, Eric, and their grandmother—a renowned psychiatrist and owner of a treatment center for the mentally ill in Vermont. Everything changes when Gran brings home a quiet and skittish young girl from the center. Decades later, in the present, Lizzy Shelley—famed host of the podcast Monsters Among Us—is in Vermont to track down a missing girl . . . and the monster who took her. The very monster Lizzy’s been hunting for years. Filled with shocking twists and turns, CHILDREN ON THE HILL will keep you up all night reading until the very end.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Drowning Kind comes a genre-defying new novel, inspired by Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, that brilliantly explores the eerie mysteries of childhood and the evils perpetrated by the monsters among us.
1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love.
Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl.
Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere.
2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.
A haunting, vividly suspenseful page-turner from the “literary descendant of Shirley Jackson” (Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant), The Children on the Hill takes us on a breathless journey to face the primal fears that lurk within us all.
THE FAMILY PLOT is perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE. Following her dad’s death, Dahlia Lighthouse has returned to her home, called the “Murder Mansion” by locals for how seemingly obsessed the Lighthouse family is with true crime. For the first time in a decade, the remaining members of the family are together on secluded Blackburn Island. Dahlia, however, is more concerned about whether her twin brother, Andy, will finally return home after his disappearance ten years ago and end her yearslong search. But when a body is discovered in her father’s reserved plot, her search is over: Andy, skull split in two, is never coming back. A grieving Dahlia believes it’s the work of the serial killer that haunted their island for decades and she begins to look for answers as the rest of her family copes in troubling ways. But as she asks questions, more secrets and lies emerge, revealing that the truth might live in her strange family and even the very mansion itself.
“Exceedingly entertaining.” —The New York Times
“Umbrella Academy meets Tana French. Dark, claustrophobic, and beautifully written.” —Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here
From the author of The Winter Sister and Behind the Red Door, a family obsessed with true crime gathers to bury their patriarch—only to find another body already in his grave.
At twenty-six, Dahlia Lighthouse is haunted by her upbringing. Raised in a secluded island mansion deep in the woods and kept isolated by her true crime-obsessed parents, she is unable to move beyond the disappearance of her twin brother, Andy, when they were sixteen.
After several years away and following her father’s death, Dahlia returns to the house, where the family makes a gruesome discovery: buried in their father’s plot is another body—Andy’s, his skull split open with an ax.
Dahlia is quick to blame Andy’s murder on the serial killer who terrorized the island for decades, while the rest of her family reacts to the revelation in unsettling ways. Her brother, Charlie, pours his energy into creating a family memorial museum, highlighting their research into the lives of famous murder victims; her sister, Tate, forges ahead with her popular dioramas portraying crime scenes; and their mother affects a cheerfully domestic facade, becoming unrecognizable as the woman who performed murder reenactments for her children. As Dahlia grapples with her own grief and horror, she realizes that her eccentric family, and the mansion itself, may hold the answers to what happened to her twin.
If you enjoy Shirley Jackson’s short stories and books that bend and question reality, FOE by Iain Reid is for you. Set in the near future, Junior and his wife, Henrietta, live a simple, quiet life on their farm—until the day a stranger arrives. The man introduces himself as Terrance and informs Junior that he has been selected for a special mission that will require him to leave his home for two years. Junior is confused and concerned for his wife, but Terrance insists he need not worry about Henrietta; she’ll be provided with very familiar company. Terrance makes more and more frequent visits to their farm to test and question Junior in preparation for his journey. As the questions grow more personal and Terrance’s visits increase, Junior suspects he’s not being told the whole truth. There’s something much more sinister at play. A mind-bending and genre-defying story, FOE is a haunting and compelling read.
Shirley Jackson had a talent for writing about dysfunctional families and haunted houses—luckily, THE HOMECOMING by Andrew Pyper has both. After the news that their workaholic father has passed away, the Quinlan family—Aaron, his two sisters Bridge and Franny, and his mother—travels to a property deep in the forests of the Pacific Northwest for the reading of their father’s will. There they learn that their inheritance has a stipulation: they must remain at the estate for thirty days with zero contact with the outside world. The family hesitantly agrees. Shortly into their stay, the Quinlans begin to ask questions and the secrets they uncover about their family leave them fearful. How often was their father at the estate, and why does he want them to stay there? Filled with unexpected twists, THE HOMECOMING is an unputdownable read.
Instant National Bestseller
Bestselling author Andrew Pyper returns with a riveting psychological thriller about how the people you’ve known your whole life can suddenly become strangers.
What if everything you knew about the people you loved was a lie?
After the death of their absentee father, Aaron and Bridge Quinlan travel to a vast rainforest property in the Pacific Northwest to hear the reading of his will. There, they meet up with their mother and troubled sister, Franny, and are shocked to discover the will’s terms: in order to claim their inheritance they must all remain at the estate for thirty days without any contact with the outside world. Despite their concerns, they agree.
The Quinlans soon come to learn their family has more secrets than they ever imagined—revelations that at first inspire curiosity, then fear. Why does Bridge have faint memories of the estate? Why did their father want them to be sequestered there together? And what is out there they feel pulling them into the dark heart of the woods?
The Homecoming is at once a gripping mystery, a chilling exploration of how our memories can both define and betray us, and a riveting page-turner that will have you questioning your very existence.
Compared to Shirley Jackson’s WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE for its gothic style, O CALEDONIA tells the tale of Janet, a misunderstood teenager in mid-twentieth-century Scotland with a love for literature and nature—and how she was murdered. The story begins with the discovery of Janet’s body in her family’s neo-gothic castle. Her parents don’t bother hiding their relief at her death, since they saw her as just a nuisance. The only one who mourns Janet is her bird and lifelong companion, Claws, and in his grief, he takes his own life. Following this jarring introduction, the rest of the story is a bleak—yet darkly humorous—account of Janet’s entire life, from birth to death. While the story itself is not a whodunit, the exploration of Janet’s life will keep you thinking about this book long after you put it down.
In the tradition of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a darkly humorous modern classic of Scottish literature about a doomed adolescent growing up in the mid-19th century—featuring a new introduction by Maggie O’Farrell, award-winning author of Hamnet.
Janet lies murdered beneath the castle stairs, attired in her mother’s black lace wedding dress, lamented only by her pet jackdaw…
Author Elspeth Barker masterfully evokes the harsh climate of Scotland in this atmospheric gothic tale that has been compared to the works of the Brontës, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edward Gorey. Immersed in a world of isolation and loneliness, Barker’s ill-fated young heroine Janet turns to literature, nature, and her Aunt Lila, who offers brief flashes of respite in an otherwise foreboding life. People, birds, and beasts move through the background in a tale that is as rich and atmospheric as it is witty and mordant. The family’s motto—Moriens sed Invictus (Dying but Unconquered)—is a well-suited epitaph for wild and courageous Janet, whose fierce determination to remain steadfastly herself makes her one of the most unforgettable protagonists in contemporary literature.
Seaside, Washington, is a small, charming town and home to the amusement park Wonderland. Featuring the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest, the Wonder Wheel, the park is what keeps Seaside a thriving town, providing jobs and attracting tourists. It would be beneficial to all if the park remains open and operational. But when one teenager—a disgruntled ex-employee, a.k.a. “Wonder Worker”—goes missing after taking a viral photo in his uniform atop the Wonder Wheel, his disappearance sets off a chain of increasingly disturbing events. After a corpse is discovered, the new deputy police chief, Vanessa Castro, is called to the park that same day. Though the Wonderland executives and Vanessa’s superior want to move past the incident as quickly as possible, Vanessa is unwilling to stop her investigation—especially when she discovers how many young employees have gone missing over the years. Full of shocking twists, porcelain dolls, and creepy clowns, WONDERLAND is perfectly terrifying nightmare fuel.
Welcome to Wonderland. By day, it’s a magical place boasting a certain retro charm. Excited children, hands sticky with cotton candy, run frenetically from the Giant Octopus ride to the Spinning Sombrero, while the tinkling carnival music of the giant Wonder Wheel—the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest—fills the air. But before daybreak, an eerie feeling descends. Maybe it’s the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls. Or maybe it’s the terrifyingly real House of Horrors. Or…maybe it’s the dead, decaying body left in the midway for all the Wonder Workers to see.
Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, is off to a bang. The unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside the tiny town’s main tourist attraction is strange enough, but now a teenage employee—whose defiant picture at the top of the Wonder Wheel went viral that same morning—is missing. As the clues in those seemingly disparate crimes lead her down a mysterious shared path of missing persons that goes back decades, she suspects the seedy rumors surrounding the amusement park’s dark history might just be true. She moved to Seaside to escape her own scandalous past, but has she brought her family to the center of an insidious killer’s twisted game? Acclaimed author Jennifer Hillier’s bone-chilling thriller is masterful and fast-paced, hurtling toward a shocking, bloody conclusion.
A Nordic noir and final book in Katrine Engberg’s Kørner and Werner series—though it could also be read as a stand-alone—THE SANCTUARY is perfect for anyone who loves a chilling mystery in a creepy location. On leave from the police force, Jeppe Kørner has decided to spend his winter on the seemingly peaceful island of Bornholm. In his absence, Anette Werner oversees the search for a brutal killer who left half of a body in an abandoned suitcase in downtown Copenhagen, and the clues keep pointing her in the direction of Bornholm. Anette asks Jeppe to look around the island for anything that seems suspicious. Jeppe agrees and soon uncovers a slew of secrets the island inhabitants have been keeping. It seems that this peaceful island and the people he has befriended are far more insidious than he believed. A shocking and unpredictable read, THE SANCTUARY will keep you guessing until the very end.
From internationally bestselling author Katrine Engberg, the series that is a “gripping addition to the Scandinavian crime fiction pantheon” (Oprah Daily) comes to a stunning conclusion as Jeppe Kørner and Anette Werner rush to untangle a long-simmering mystery before a brutal killer strikes again.
Jeppe Kørner, on leave from the police force and nursing a broken heart, has taken refuge on the island of Bornholm for the winter. But when Jeppe lends a helping hand at the island’s local sawmill, he begins to realize that the island may not be the peaceful refuge it appears to be.
Back in Copenhagen, Anette Werner is tasked with leading the investigation into a severed corpse discovered on a downtown playground. As she follows the strange trail of clues, they all seem to lead back to Bornholm. With an innocent offer to check out a lead, Jeppe unwittingly finds himself in the crosshairs of a sinister mystery rooted in the past, forcing him to team up with Anette and a lonely island resident to help him unravel the Bornholm’s secrets before it’s too late.
With her signature “unforgettable characters and brilliant plot twists” (Kathy Reichs, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Katrine Engberg weaves a satisfying and white-knuckled finale to her “brazen and original” (The Toronto Star) Korner and Werner series.
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