As an avid reader, I enjoy many different genres. But what I really enjoy reading, especially during this time of year, are dark and twisted stories. The books that carry you through the pages with a bit of adrenaline and the urge to know what happens next. Here are a handful of my favorite creepy page turners.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Most known for Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn is one of my favorite dark and twisted writers. As a Kansas City native, the landmarks and places she references in her books are very relatable, making it easy to picture. It also gives you the eerie sense that this just might be happening in our own neighborhood. Sharp Objects is the story of a tormented young woman who is asked to report on the murders of two teenage girls from her hometown. While visiting she must stay with her family who is, of course, the source of all her problems. As she begins to identify strongly with the victims, she takes a closer look at herself, her family and the community where she grew up, realizing that there are more pieces to these murders than meets the eye. This is one of those books that makes your eyes wide with fascination, your stomach churn and your heart break. Others by Gillian Flynn: Dark Places and Gone Girl.
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
This is a short story (about 60-70 pages). I read this on a cold and dreary evening and was amazed at how fast I soared through it. It poses the question, do you believe in ghosts? A struggling woman who makes her living reading people's auras (and also, offers 'happy endings' to these readings to pay the bills) agrees to help a wealthy woman rid her new home of the evil that apparently resides there. The woman's step son is a very disturbing character as well. The "psychic" narrator is no longer pretending to believe in the supernatural when she continues to spend time within the mansion. This story will have your hair standing on end from the moment she enters the home in search of the evil that haunts it.
I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
I came across this book in the library bookstore. The title had caught my attention and the blurb fit the description of spooky reads. This is the story of a young woman on her way to meet her boyfriend’s family on a farm out in the middle of nowhere even though she has been thinking of ending things with him the whole time. When they arrive to the farmhouse, bizarre isn't a strong enough word. From the strange decor to the awkward conversations to the unsettling sense that something just isn't quite right with any of the individuals present, this book makes your hair stand on end. The contents of this story are very reminiscent of your worst nightmares -- it explores a person's inner most thoughts, instincts and fears. I don't want to spoil it, but the ending will leave your mind racing for days trying to piece together all that you missed the first time.
In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
This is more of a thriller, but occasionally while reading, a shudder will make its way through your body. Nora ran away from her life and her big secret 10 years ago but one email will change it all. Her childhood best friend is getting married and has invited her to the bachelorette party, but not the wedding. Her instincts tell her she shouldn't go but curiosity ultimately gets the best of her. The party was supposed to be the time of their lives but it ends with a murder, lives ruined and all of the attendees changed forever. Ware explores self doubt, trust, friendship, revenge and regret in this gripping novel. Entering this book, you are already aware that someone will be murdered because it is on the cover. Throughout the entire book you are looking closely at every single person you meet wondering if they are the murderer or victim and what motives he or she may have to kill another person. This book had a similar vibe to books like Girl on a Train and The Good Girl. Others by Ruth Ware: The Woman in Cabin 10
The Devil's Footprints by Amanda Stevens
This is one of those cheesy books that inevitably reels you in. Sarah is haunted by her sister's unsolved murder and, when two bodies are found near her apartment years later, the cloven footprints that were present all those years ago are at this crime scene as well. As an adolescent, she never had many friends and preferred to be alone with her dog until Ashe Cain came along one day. The only problem is, no one else has ever heard of or seen Ashe, causing the reader to believe that maybe he never existed after all. This truly terrifying book is one you might want to read with the light on.
The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum
Meg and her crippled sister move into the cul de sac after a terrible accident killed their parents and they were sent to live with their Aunt Ruth and her 3 rambunctious boys. What they don't know is, their Aunt Ruth is bordering on madness that will affect the entire neighborhood. The most terrifying aspect of this book is that the monsters in this are real human beings. It is a scary realization that this could very well happen in our own quiet neighborhoods. This book is not for the faint at heart. It's like a gruesome train wreck that you know you should shield your eyes from yet can not look away.
Mackenzie Smith is the Assistant Director and Pre K teacher in western Shawnee. Born and raised in Mission, Ks she is a true Kansas City girl. If she is not at home curled up with a book you can find her out and about amongst friends sharing appetizers, cocktails and stories! She would love to devote more time to writing and more creative projects in the future.