Turning the Page: Scary Thrillers You Must Read This Month

By: Gianna Campanaro

There is nothing like curling up with a chilling book by a warming fire on a particular cold and gusty fall evening, especially as we get closer to the spooky season. Here are several thriller recommendations that local librarians have curated to scare you silly.

“Thrillers are just page turners, and I like being able to have no idea what the heck is going on because life is pretty predictable and not all books are,” said Grace Riordan, a clerk at the East Rockaway Library who exclusively reads thrillers. She expressed how popular this genre tends to become in circulation, adding, “It “truly is the perfect time for new releases to drop in October.”


Her colleague, reference librarian Heather Massa, said that a “bananas” thriller for young adults (YA), is “Monday’s Not Coming” by Tiffany D. Jackson, published in 2018. This novel for ages 13 to 17 follows Claudia who is in search of her missing best friend Monday. This whirlwind of a plot takes on many twists and turns, uncovering the truth from a girl who’s trying to obtain forgotten memories.

Massa also recommends what she calls the terrifying and intense “Behind Closed Doors” by B.A. Paris for adults, released in 2016. It follows a married couple who on the outside appear to be perfect, but behind closed doors Grace’s husband tortures her.

Shannon Dalrymple, children and youth services librarian at Lynbrook Public Library--who also dabbles in adult reference--said there are YA thrillers that have a lot of crossover appeal—meaning adults are reading them too. Dalrymple said a popular author in this category is Karen M. McManus. She became well known for her first successful novel, “One of Us is Lying,” a YA released in 2017. A televised adaptation was released in 2021 on Peacock. (So you can check that out too.)

When it comes to what is currently popular, Dalrymple said that lately people have been into domestic thrillers, which focus heavily on familial relationships. Dalrymple pointed out “The Family Upstairs'' by Lisa Jewell for adults and released in 2019 is still a go-to story in this category. It emphasizes the rocky relationship between a woman and her lost family, riddled with murder and missing siblings.

“I’d also say adult thrillers by Ruth Ware, Riley Sanger and Sharpi Lapena books go out a ton,” she added. These include Ware’s 2020 “One by One,” where a ski lodge holiday turns to the worst; Sanger's 2020, “Home Before Dark” where fictional stories from a haunted house reveal themselves in the forefront of reality; and Lapena's 2016 adult thriller, “The Couple Next Door” where a mysterious murder unleashes the imperfections of a perfect neighborly couple.


Massa also suggested Riley Sanger but said that her books are “hit or miss. “But `Last Time I Lied’ is definitely a hit!” If you are a fan of the hit television series “American Horror Story” on FX, this may be the story for you. In this 2018, adult recommended publication, Sanger’s haunted cabin has a similar vibe to season nine of “AHS: 1984” which took place on a campground.

Massa also recommended these titles that are currently popular on BookTok—a subcommunity on TikTok that is focused on books and literature:

  • “Sadie” by Courtney Summers, a YA released in 2018, that Massa said is “very dark” and for fans of “Criminal Minds” and “Law and Order.” Between a podcast and Sadie’s quest to find her sister’s killer, a mystery is unraveled.

  • “Fire Keeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley (YA, 2021) follows a dark story in a Native American reservation where heroine dealing is prevalent.

  • “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn (YA, 2020) is a three-book series in which a surprising inheritance leaves Avery Grambs with a whole new life and a mystery to unpack.

  • “Cross Her Heart” by Melinda Leigh (adult, 2020) is about a detective unnerved by the traumatic suicide of her parents who comes across more trauma with the mysterious killing of her sister.

Your local library is the perfect place to visit to access an array of these books and more for free, and even gather some great recommendations for other genres. All you have to do is show two proofs of residency to get your own library card.



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