5 Most Terrifying Thrillers About Mental Illness

Anyone else find books that revolve around mental illness particularly intriguing? In today’s post, I’m listing my top favorite thrillers (that absolutely *terrified* me) where the protagonist(s) deals with a serious psychological condition. If you have any book suggestions you think should be added to the list, please let me know!

1. Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

“It’s like watching a horror movie over and over again, without ever becoming immune to the terror.”

This is a dark psychological thriller that meticulously explores what it’s like to live with Obsessive Compulsive Behavior, and suffer through domestic abuse in a frighteningly realistic way. There’s also a really good backstory that explains where our protagonist’s psychological condition stems from.

If you’re looking to understand this illness, and/or usually gravitate to plots with the theme of obsessive love, Into The Darkest Corner is definitely the book for you. A bit towards the ending, there’s a terrific action-packed scene where our protagonist must escape the perpetrator; that particular scene is so, incredibly entertaining!

2. Lock Me In by Kate Simants

“You want to know fear? Imagine someone there, every day when you wake. Imagine knowing, without even opening your eyes, that someone is watching you.”

This was one heck of a debut with plenty of twists, and there are massive final revelations that are truly disturbing.

In Lock Me In, Simants writes an edge-of-your-seat thriller where a young girl named Ellie suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder; she deals with what she calls “fugues”, and there’s a mysterious disappearance that she thinks she’s responsible for. We follow two POVs (Ellie + the detective) and Ellie’s sessions with her psychotherapist. And nothing is as it seems.

This psychological condition was portrayed in such a chilling, believable way in this book and I was completely engrossed by the originality and insightfulness that were provided.

3. The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung

This was written by a real-life psychotherapist! Dissociative Identity Disorder is the heart of this book and in this book, we get to explore it through the eyes of a psychotherapist and patient with dark backstories. The patient, Alexa, soon becomes a trigger for her psychotherapist, Daniel.

The Eighth Girl also delves into the topics of abuse, trauma, memory and in addition to major aspects of suspense, which is ratcheted up during the last pages, there’s a huge twist that will make you gasp!

4. The Woman In The Window by A. J. Finn

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, witnesses a murder, her world begins to crumble. Was what she saw real? Or did she imagine it?

The Woman In The Window is an enjoyable whodunnit mystery where the main character suffers from agoraphobia. The writing is different, and a bit slow during the first half, but it eventually picks up afterwards and leads up to a satisfactory ending. What’s most fascinating about this book is how the author navigated the protagonist’s condition in a such a raw way!

5. Cracked by Louise McCreesh

Readers are pulled deep into the intertwined webs of seven patients’ dark secrets in Louise McCreesh’s debut, Cracked, which explores multiples mental illnesses.

What mainly keeps the reader eager to turn the pages in this book is the mystery of main character Jenny’s secret from her darkest days as a patient in Hillside psychiatric hospital 9 years ago. The story goes back and forth between the past, which takes place at the hospital, and the present, where our protagonist is on edge after her former psychiatrist is brutally murdered.

So now, she must reunite with her former roommates to find out who the killer might be and why is he/she sending them threatening messages, warning them to keep quiet. There are many twists and turns here, and through protagonist Jenny’s point of view, we understand that everyone has a secret, and given the various mental illnesses which our characters suffer from (schizophrenia, etc), their accounts of what had been happening at the hospital tend to be unreliable, making it harder to know who to trust.

Are you guys familiar with the titles on this list? Any other ones nyou’d like to add?

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