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I’m going to be transparent with all of you: I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween. I genuinely do love the premise of it; parading around as your favorite character for a night, sharing sweets among your community, and, at its most basic roots, having a fun time with all of your friends. With that being said, it’s just not for me.

            When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I came to the realization that Halloween was just not on my list of top holidays. I had never particularly enjoyed dressing up in the first place and I was not the biggest fan of candy, which still rings true to this day. This obviously baffled everyone around me because (1) I have a huge sweet tooth and (2) both of those realizations completely defy the laws of being a kid.

            However, I do not completely shun the idea of a Halloween holiday. I just happen to channel my energy elsewhere: reading. If you know me, you know that I have loved to read since I was a kid. Reading was always my safe space to go to; I mean my mom would have to find me and beg me to leave the library and I could finish a Nancy Drew novel in the course of an early afternoon. From this, my love for mystery/thriller novels was born. There is something so inexplicably exciting about reading a top-tier mystery or thriller. It’s like a constant race within your own mind to not only enjoy the story, but also determine whether or not you can figure out the culprit before it is revealed.

            So, if you’re like me and prefer a more chill Halloween, but one that still gets your blood pumping, look no further than this article. I’m about to recommend to you some of my favorite mystery/thrillers. Buckle up and let’s get to it!

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

     I read this novel for the first time when I was in 8th grade. I would be lying if I said I didn’t hate the entire beginning portion. That being said, the second act is a complete and total whirlwind from start to finish. I can’t tell you much about what happens, or else that would spoil the fun. Just keep in mind that this was written during a time where there was little other entertainment than novels. When you’re accustomed to watching Netflix or TikTok, formats that give the audience all of the information that they desire in a quick and timely manner, then of course it appears like Du Maurier goes into painstaking and unnecessary lengths in describing every detail. Even through all of this, I highly encourage you to give this one a shot. You won’t regret it.

Overview:

“‘Last Night I Dreamt I went to Manderley Again…’

With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim’s first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca.”

After by Francine Prose

     I will never forget reading this book for the first time and even more so reading it the second. If I remember correctly, the first time was in elementary school during a time where I could not truly understand the constant struggle of being a high school student. Yet when I read it for a second time, I truly understood. This book is not as much of a mystery as it is a thriller. My favorite part about it is how if you read it closely enough, you can often predict what is about to happen. The ultimate pull of the book is that you can feel control from the main characters slipping, and the only thing that you can do is flip to the next page. Truly one of the more haunting books I have ever read, and one that has stayed with me since I first cracked it open.

Overview: 

“School has become a prison.
No one knows why.
There’s no way to stop it.”

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

     In retrospect, this was one of the first books I read that attempted an honest depiction of mental health struggles in the protagonist. It openly discusses societal withdrawal and the lonely moments that come with that. I will admit that the book can be harder to get into at first. All of the characters and their relationships, whether current or past, must be laid out for the audience to truly understand why the culmination of all the parties involved is crucial to the story itself. That being said, Ware is masterful at giving you the perfect amount of eerie that goes hand in hand with each discovery.

Overview:

“What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.

Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself.

When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.”

Invisible by James Patterson & David Ellis

     Okay, I have to be completely transparent with you. If you cannot stomach some blood and gore, as well as explicit discussion of murder, this book is probably not for you. However, if you are someone who can do that or even someone who finds it interesting, then this book is absolutely for you.

     Putting Invisible down was nearly impossible for me. From the first page to the very last, I was absolutely hooked. One of my favorite staples of a good James Patterson novel (David Ellis contributed to this as well but this is a pattern of Patterson’s in his solo novels) is the use of shorter chapters. I probably speak for most people when I say that longer chapters can bore me, so Patterson’s use of shorter chapters keeps the audience gripped by the story.

     All things considered, what truly makes this book as fantastic as it is is the use of multiple points of view, and thus voices, beyond that of the protagonist. You truly get to see the whole story.

Overview: 

“Everyone thinks Emmy Dockery is crazy. Obsessed with finding the link between hundreds of unsolved cases, Emmy has taken leave from her job as an FBI researcher. Now all she has are the newspaper clippings that wallpaper her bedroom, and her recurring nightmares of an all-consuming fire.

Not even Emmy’s ex-boyfriend, field agent Harrison ‘Books’ Bookman, will believe her that hundreds of kidnappings, rapes, and murders are all connected. That is, until Emmy finds a piece of evidence he can’t afford to ignore. More murders are reported by the day – and they’re all inexplicable. No motives, no murder weapons, no suspects. Could one person really be responsible for these unthinkable crimes?

Invisible is James Patterson’s scariest, most chilling stand-alone thriller yet.”

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskins

     This mystery. Is without a doubt. My favorite of all time. Picking the Westing Game up as I strolled through the library as a kid is what truly set the ball rolling for mystery/thrillers to be my favorite genres. Like Rebecca, I cannot give too much information on the book, or else you will understand the plot before you read it. I can tell you that this is a book you can read at any age and still not recognize the true genius behind Raskins in writing this book. Perhaps what I love most is how she effortlessly flips between different voices and thought processes based on the character she is depicting, or how the entirety of the book is written like an excited narrator’s stream of consciousness.

Full of morally gray characters, revolving points of view, and the ever-elusive dead man’s final wishes, the Westing Game is a novel that keeps you guessing until the very last page. You want to find out how this one ends.

Overview: 

“A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, on things for sure: Sam Westing may be dead…but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!”

I’m sure you can tell by now that I am an avid reader and love the emotional response that comes from words on paper. So I leave you all with this: Happy Halloween and even happier reading!

Hi friends! I'm a public relations and political science double major with an interest in public policy. In my free time, I love annoying my friends with rants about some sort of injustice. I can't wait for us to learn from each other :)
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