I Lied

Read Feed

I Lied

The Unreliable Narrator

Thrillers span several genres that include horror, mystery, gothic and psychological thrillers. When told from the narrator's point of view, thrillers become that much more compelling, enthralling, tense and scary. The imperfect storyteller pulls the reader deeper into the story world albeit with a less than truthful if not entirely imagined portrayal. Read why the thriller with an unreliable narrator is so enduringly popular with these five novels:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Book
eBook
eAudiobook

A 27 year old nanny narrates a series of events that lead to her incarceration for the suspected murder of a child in her care.  Rowan (Rachel) is hired by the Elincourts to care for their 4 daughters, aged 18 months to 14 years.  The busy architects leave the 3 younger children solely in the new nanny’s care less than 24 hours after her arrival. Though daunted, the new nanny has a hidden goal. As secrets, bumps in the night, spectres, and little sleep conspire to unhinge the already fragile young woman, her sad past along with that of the Elincourt’s peculiar house, Heatherbrae, gradually come into focus.

A modern twist on the Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw, The Turn of the Key carries the classic’s original themes. The beautiful comfortable home, with its Alexa-like technology, is a source of menace, one that terrorizes and spies upon. The housekeeper is not so well-meaning; the two middle children are clever and manipulative; and the odd job man/love interest is not who he seems. The weathered stone Heatherbrae’s location in the wild Scottish Cairngorms, its poison garden and roses provide the right gothic touches, along with the narrator’s at times fevered storytelling. Read this novel with the lights on. And don’t put it in the freezer!
 

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Book
eBook

For another creepy homage there is My Sister Rosa. Inspired by the classic The Bad Seed by William March this horror/psychological thriller is narrated by 17 year old, Che Taylor, a sometimes-homeschooled boxing fan who has just moved to New York with his carefree parents, Sally and David and his 10 year old sister, Rosa (Rhoda in The Bad Seed), a chess prodigy whom Che believes is a psychopath. Beginning at the age of 2 Rosa has been observed by or confessed to Che about her killing of insects and spiders and making up stories of abuse to strangers. Che becomes frustrated with his parents and Rosa’s doctors when they put her actions down to being young or ADHD. Che knows better, especially after he learns what she made a younger friend do.

Che’s point of view is also Rosa’s as Che is her protector and confessor. Both Che’s complicity in Rosa’s actions through silence and his secret recording of their conversations form cracks in his heroic armor with more to come. Sally’s blindness to Rosa’s nature is in large part due to similar characteristics in Che and other family members.  With Che and Rosa is it a case of game recognizes game? More twisted in story and characters than Larbarlestier's Liar, My Sister Rosa is psychological horror at its diabolical finest.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Book
LARGE PRINT FICTION
eBook
eAudiobook

35 year old Amber Reynolds is in a coma, but aware of her surroundings. From staff and visitors she learns she was found near the wreckage of her husband's car. Her husband visits with an unexplained injury to his hand and is taken away by the police. Amber remembers little beyond the suspicion of her husband's infidelity and that sometimes she lies. Amber struggles to wake and make sense of the unease she feels for husband, Paul and sister, Claire. Visits from her dead parents and a strange man who erases messages from her phone further confuse her. Dreams, passages from a 24 year old diary and scenes from her recent past gradually help Amber recover important details, but regaining her memory is just a start. Plot-driven and chock full of thriller tropes, this soon to be television series is unputdownable.

The Woman in the Window (La mujer en la ventana) by A.J. Finn
Book
eBook
eAudiobook
Sound Recording

“You don’t interfere with the wildlife." These words once spoken by her husband, Ed, keep Anna from acting on an impulse to distract the husband of her cheating neighbor just as he is about to enter their home, across the street from Anna’s. A traumatic event has resulted in Anna’s panic disorder, which isn’t getting any better, so she spends her days watching her neighbors through the lens of her camera.  Hazy from consuming cocktails of prescription drugs and red wine, Anna also spends her days online with fellow suffers and marathons of noir films. When two blood-curdling screams come from the new neighbors’ house across the park, Anna refuses to remain silent, but in her current state of mind who would believe her? Is she believable to herself?

Noir film and fiction fan A.J. Finn crafts a compelling read on depression that is also a love letter to the thriller genre. The page-turning, Hitchcockian plot is also rich with humor and flawed characters, both sympathetic and unsympathetic. Due to be released internationally as a major motion picture in 2020, be sure to read the book before seeing the film.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book
eBook
eAudiobook

At 31 Kathy H has outlived most of her friends and acquaintances from her early years at Hailsham, an experimental school in the English countryside. She’s been a carer for more than a decade, but in the new year she will become a donor. She has a sense of peace about her future and a calm acceptance about her past, but there are signs Kathy doesn’t see the world as others do. Her teachers, patients and friends, especially Ruth and Tommy remember incidents and scenes differently or not at all. Is she a credible chronicler of what seems unbearably monstrous? What really happens? Is Kathy even aware?

Atmospheric, romantic, and horrific with plot twists and a jangled narrative Never Let Me Go rings all the gothic and thriller bells. Try this subtle novel for a masterwork in the gothic and thriller themes.