Nothing is as captivating as a good thriller. However, finding the right one seems to be the trouble. Today we’re going to save you some time.
A good hook, an engaging mystery, and a dynamic plot are three reasons why we simply love reading thrillers. As an audience, we want to be entertained, but we also want the entertainment to be of a higher quality. In order to help you pick your next read, we’ve decided to introduce you to five 2021 releases in the genre and tell you if they’re worth the hype.
In My Dreams I Hold a Knife – Ashley Winstead
In the online book community, Ashley Winstead’s debut novel In My Dreams I Hold a Knife created a lot of buzz. This dark academia thriller, following six friends on their college reunion, promised an unsolved murder, morally gray protagonists, and the deepest secrets coming to light. The only question is: did it deliver?
Winstead offers a highly readable book in the vein of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. Our troubled main character, Jessica Miller is thrown into a web of complicated relationships, betrayals, and messy personal history, where the death of her friend Heather is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for a dark and brooding book that will offer plot twists at every turn, this might be just the right pick for you.
Final judgment: Yes!
A History of Wild Places – Shea Ernshaw
Shea Ernshaw is one of the up-and-coming authors in the genres of magical realism and speculative fiction. A History of Wild Places is her first attempt at a dystopian suspense novel, following a cast of characters in an isolated commune hiding away from a mysterious illness.
While the book has a promising start, centering on investigator Travis Wren, whose almost supernatural abilities help him solve missing person cases, the plot quickly turns in a different direction. Even though there are surely many readers who don’t mind big shifts in narrative structure, whether you’ll end up liking the book depends on your personal taste. The ending certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but for the right kind of audience, A History of Wild Places could easily do the trick.
Final judgment: A hesitant no.
Near the Bone – Christina Henry
If you have a habit of reading fairytale retellings, then Christina Henry might be a familiar name to you. Most famous for her gruesome and dark reimaginations of some of the most famous children’s tales, such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Red Ridinghood, her most recent novel Near the Bone is her first attempt at a suspense book.
This novel, set on an isolated mountain during harsh winter conditions, mixes all the elements of a ’creature feature’ with the horrors of religious fanaticism, kidnapping, and violence against women. Following Mattie, a young woman whose husband keeps her away from society, it’s clear that after the discovery of a mutilated fox left in the snow, the angry and unpredictable William isn’t the only danger lurking in the woods.
While the setup in itself is tense and interesting, for attentive readers it’s sometimes hard to put away their critical lense and take the story for what it is. Certain plot holes linger next to illogical character motivations, which make this book somewhat of a frustrating read.
Final judgment: Not really.
The Plot – Jean Hanff Korelitz
Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2021 release The Plot made a great first impression on English-speaking audiences. Not only is this a one-of-a-kind literary thriller, discussing failed potentials as well as the dangers of ambition, but Korelitz’s debut also features a delicious intrigue set in a highly contemporary setting.
Introducing us to failed novelist Jacob Finch Bonner, the premise leads us into a tale of stolen ideas and reaching your dreams on the basis of lies. When Evan Parker, one of his students, reveals to him the plot of his future novel, dying only a short time later, it’s as if Jacob doesn’t have a choice but to use it in his own work. Now a major literary success, it seems that Jacob’s secret might be coming to light, with consequences that will leave you devouring The Plot in a single sitting.
Final judgment: Yes!
The Push – Ashley Audrain
The genre of domestic thrillers has through the years become a highly saturated area of literature. After the success of titles such as Big Little Lies and The Woman in the Window, it’s a hard task to make a break in the market and give the audience something completely new. Luckily enough, with her novel The Push, Ashley Audrain managed to do exactly that.
Blythe Connor, a stay-at-home mother in a somewhat fading marriage, can’t seem to connect to her firstborn child. While she desperately loves her son, her daughter Violet deeply unnerves her in more ways than one — especially after Sam, her adored baby, dies in an accident that might not have been so accidental. Exploring generational trauma, the struggles of motherhood and the presumed innocence of children, Ashley Audrain’s book will hook you as much as it will make you think.
Final judgment: Yes.
Photo: Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock
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