One of the reading goals I define for myself nearly every year is to try to read more from different genres, and mystery/thrillers and horror books are something I rarely get to during the Fall season.
But this year I’ve finally been reading some, and I have to say I’m enjoying these types of books very much, especially YA mysteries/thrillers. I didn’t read the majority of the books listed below during this Fall season exactly, but I figured this is the best time to finally recommend them! (Plus, mini-reviews are a great way to tackle the massive list of reviews I needed to write).
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a very intriguing novel largely due to the way it’s written. The mystery is presented through police reports, interviews, and the main character’s diary entries brimming with theories, suspect lists, and clues.
Pip Fitz Amory’s doing an academic report focusing on the notorious murder-suicide local case – local girl Andie Bell went missing and everyone thought the boyfriend, Sal Singh, did it, especially after he committed suicide. But Pip doesn’t think that’s all there is to the story. Everyone’s telling her to leave it alone, and despite numerous warnings and dangers from mysterious figures, she follows through with it ’till the very end.
The mystery always kept me on the edge of my seat. You think you know one thing about the victim, murderer, witnesses, and it all unravels in the most unexpected way in the end! Overall: It was so much fun and addictive! ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Content Warnings: death, mentions of suicide, grief, drugs, death of an animal (not described on page).
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
This fall season, I was looking forward to reading more thrillers, and I started with One of Us is Lying. I had no doubts that I would enjoy it, but I didn’t think I’d love it!
The first chapters with the death and the introduction of the main characters immediately got me hooked. I couldn’t guess the culprit or any of the twists, and the way the narrative shifted left me with the same questions as the characters did. And the characters who seemed so stereotypical at first completely unraveled by the end of it, into a group of interesting people (though not entirely original as characters).
Overall: One of Us is Lying is a gripping, fun little mystery that will keep you glued to the pages until the very last minute . ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Content Warnings: death, emotional and physical abuse, alcoholism and drug addiction; nothing too graphic though.
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Stalking Jack The Ripper is one of the most popular YA historical books out there and though I have to admit I didn’t quite love it, I can finally say I get what all the fuss is about!
It’s Thomas Cresswell, that’s it, that’s the tea.
Audrey Rose is a brilliant young woman who aspires to be a forensic scientist just like her uncle. She’s sneaking off to take classes from him, and become his apprentice, hiding from her father and a condemning, limiting society when she meets her uncle’s top student, Thomas Cresswell (charming, clever, and somehow sweet and obnoxious at the same time).
The slow romance subplot was very well-done and it didn’t overshadow the main narrative at all. I was hoping for more (sooner, more intense), though I also see how it was more realistic this way. And again, I love how the focus of the book was the mystery. (I’m feeling a bit conflicted.) The mystery was great! The story revolves around the Jack the Ripper murders obviously but seeing the way it developed on the page and the characters investigating it was even more intriguing. It was an intricate, unpredictable case and it was easy to get engrossed by every new clue and theory right alongside the characters!
Overall: This book is definitely an interesting story for the Jack the Ripper mystery alone, but the more personal connection in the story to these murders, the clever characters, and the absolute best setting just make it even better. I’m very intrigued by the next book but I don’t know when I’ll read it. ⭐⭐⭐.5
Content Warnings: graphic depictions of injuries/death/murder, drug abuse.
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio
If We Were Villains tells the story of a group of friends, Shakespearean actors, and aficionados at the peak of their youth and glory. It’s their final year in their prestigious art college competing to become the best in this dark academia setting until it all goes horribly wrong and Oliver, the main character, goes to prison for murder for ten years.
I really liked Oliver from the start, but all of the characters in this book are very interesting. The synopsis said it best: “Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra”. Oliver reminds me of Richard Papen from The Secret History (this whole book reminds me of The Secret History in fact), more moderate and modest among the others’ personalities but no less valued or interesting, though perhaps occasionally a bit of an outsider.
Overall: If We Were Villains is the perfect fall book with the intriguing murder mystery plot, the dark academia setting, interesting characters and replete with Shakespeare quotes and literary theory. I STRONGLY recommend it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Content Warnings: death/murder, physical abuse, drugs, depression , suicide & self-harm.
Cell by Stephen King
My most recent Stephen King book and one of the scariest, and I couldn’t help but devour it in two days – and wish my edition had this beautiful cover instead!
Cell is an astonishingly violent and thrilling novel right from the start and a very atmospheric read. It’s the kind of book that’s scary because of the theme and possibilities. I was immediately interested by the premise of this novel: one fateful morning, mobile phones everywhere suddenly rob people of their humanity and leave only their most aggressive and destructive impulses behind.
Clay Riddell, one of the few people walking around that day without a cellphone, finds himself right in the middle of a busy street when the carnage starts. Together with a small group of survivors, he sets out on a journey to find his wife and son, all while dodging the “phone crazies” and the natural dangers all around them.
Nowadays, people are so obsessed with their phones, myself included, and certainly on a much larger scale than in 2006 when this book was initially published, that I can’t help but think of how catastrophic this sort of event would be to humanity…
Overall: a scary, very thrilling and intense book that I strongly recommend! ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Please check out Alex at WhimsyPages very well-written review of Cell from last year!
Content Warnings: extreme violence; murder; graphic blood and gore; emotional trauma; & possibly more than I can remember at the moment since it’s been a few months since I read it but you get the gist.
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King
I’ve talked a few times about how much I love this book, it’s my first and still favorite of his books.
Sleeping Beauties tells the story of a mysterious ‘illness’ that is causing women to fall asleep and be covered in silk cocoons. When woken, they act violently and without recognizing loved ones and friends who are often injured or even killed by women in this enraged state.
Similar to other King books, it starts slowly and it has a large cast of characters and only after a time can you really start connecting all the dots. It’s an interesting journey, seeing the way this ‘illness’ affects women and men, society in general and each character individually with a mix of supernatural elements in there too. Plus, it raises some interesting points on women’s role in society and the way men have taken everything for granted. Overall: An absolute must read! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content Warnings: death, domestic violence, suicide, abuse, drugs, attempted rape.