10 Bestselling Books That Give Us the Chills

By Brandon Miller
Three gripping novels with haunting themes on display: "the whisper man" with an ominous handprint, "the maidens" covered in cryptic symbolism, and "baby teeth" marked by a chilling bite.

These creepy reads found themselves on the New York Times bestseller list — and in the dark dreams of book lovers everywhere. From psychological thrillers to twisted tales of horror and suspense, here are 10 bestselling scary books that will keep you reading well past the witching hour.

A book cover for "the whisper man" by alex north, featuring an artistic representation of a butterfly formed by black fingerprint patterns against a white background, with the silhouette of a man standing at the bottom.

The Whisper Man

By Alex North

In this blood-chilling paranormal thriller, a serial killer lures his victims to their death by whispering at their windows at night — and if that doesn’t compel you to double-lock your doors before bedtime, we don’t know what will. Alex North’s New York Times bestseller debut centers on a widower named Tom Kennedy. Devastated by the death of his wife, Tom moves with his son Jake to the town of Featherbank. But all is not well in the sleepy hamlet. Twenty years ago, a ghoulish killer dubbed the Whisper Man stalked the streets of the town and claimed multiple lives before finally being caught. Now a young boy has gone missing, and the details of his disappearance bear an eerie resemblance to those of the Whisper Man crimes. Could a malevolent force be on the prowl once again?

A book cover of "the silent patient" by alex michaelides, featuring a partial face with lips sealed, hinting at the theme of silence or secrecy.

The Silent Patient

By Alex Michaelides

In his bestselling debut, Alex Michaelides delivers a sophisticated psychological thriller that will have you riveted until the very last word. The novel focuses on Alicia Berenson, a world-famous artist in London who murders her husband in a brutal act of violence. Post-murder, Berenson refuses to utter a syllable about the slaying. Criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to break through to this silent patient and unravel the mystery, but he may not be ready to hear her haunting truth….

A gripping novel by alex michaelides, 'the maidens': a mix of classic art, mystery, and psychological intrigue, as signified by the fragmented statue and the hint of blood.

The Maidens

By Alex Michaelides

For his second novel — which, like its predecessor, was an instant New York Times bestseller —

Alex Michaelides draws on Greek mythology to produce a beguiling dark academia thriller about murder, guilt, and obsession. Edward Fosca is a charismatic Greek tragedy professor at Cambridge University; he’s admired by many, including an all-female society of students known as The Maidens. When one of The Maidens is murdered, the Cambridge community is shocked. Mariana Andros, a brilliant group therapist and a Cambridge alumna, is convinced that Fosca’s to blame, but as her search for answers spirals into obsession, Andros must ask herself how much she’s willing to risk to prove Fosca’s guilt and stop the killer.

A dark and foreboding road stretches into the distance under a night sky, illuminated by the glow of a car's headlights. bold text screams "survive the night" in neon lettering, with "a novel" and the author's name, riley sager, suggesting a thrilling and suspenseful read.

Survive the Night

By Riley Sager

Riley Sager’s bestselling thrill-ride is sure to make you scream with dark delight. The novel is set in November 1991. College student Charlie Jordan is on her way back to Ohio after hitching a ride with Josh Baxter, a man she met on a campus rideshare board. Both are desperate to get away. Charlie is still reeling from the shock of the murder of her best friend, who was the third victim of an at-large campus killer. Josh, meanwhile, claims he’s on his way back to take care of his ailing father. It isn’t long, however, before Charlie gets the creeping suspicion that Josh isn’t who he says he is. Why do holes keep appearing in his life story? And why won’t he let her see what’s inside the trunk? As they speed down an empty highway in the dead of night, Charlie begins to suspect that she’s sharing a ride with the man who murdered her best friend — and that if she doesn’t survive the night, she’ll be the killer’s next victim.

A book cover for "bird box" by josh malerman, advertising it as a notable psychological thriller and mentioning its adaptation into a netflix film, with a design featuring a vintage rotary phone dial.

Birdbox

By Josh Malerman

This propulsive horror novel served as the basis for the 2018 Netflix film starring Sandra Bullock — and reading it will definitely leave you sleeping with one eye open. The bestselling tale is set in an apocalyptic near-future where a force has laid waste to humanity. Anyone who sees this force is driven to madness and certain death; those left standing have learned to stay alive by shielding their eyes from whatever’s out there. Now, a survivor named Malorie prepares to embark on a trip downriver with her two children, all while wearing a blindfold and facing unseen terrors as she searches for sanctuary.

A minimalist book cover design with a sinister red smile and eerie eyes, hinting at the horror within stephen king's novel "it.

It

By Stephen King

Stephen King’s classic horror novel deserves its place on bookshelves everywhere. The mammoth tale is set in the town of Derry, Maine, where seven adults have returned to confront an evil entity that they first battled as teens. The shape-shifting creature lurks in Derry’s sewers and preys on children — and after years of lying dormant, “It” has struck again.

A haunting book cover for "the sun down motel" by simone st. james, featuring a vintage neon motel sign against a dusky sky with an ominous vibe.

The Sun Down Motel

By Simone St. James

Simone St. James conjures a haunting tale of memory and loss in this bestseller. The novel takes place in both 1982 and 2017. In 1982, Viv Delaney is working as a night clerk at a creepy motel in Fell, New York, when she vanishes without a trace. In 2017, Viv’s niece Carly Kirk moves to the small upstate town — and into the clutches of the menacing motel — to figure out what really happened to her aunt all those years ago.

A shattered lollipop on a cover of 'baby teeth' — where innocence meets ominous undercurrents in a chilling novel.

Baby Teeth

By Zoje Stage

This bestselling psychological thriller by Zoje Stage centers on a terrifying mother–daughter relationship that will make your skin crawl. Hanna is a seven-year-old girl with two devoted parents. In the eyes of her father, Hanna’s a quiet angel who could do no wrong. Hanna’s mother, Suzette, however, sees a starkly different reality. To her, Hanna is cold and manipulative, and engaging in progressively dangerous games. Is Suzette slipping, or is her daughter truly out to get her? And if so, how far is the child willing to go to get what she wants?

Cover of "the family upstairs" by lisa jewell, featuring an intricate arrangement of dark foliage and vines against a black background, with the title in bold white letters.

The Family Upstairs

By Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers, and this nerve-jangling tale of domestic suspense is one of her most compelling works. Twenty-five-year-old Libby Jones is searching for answers about her past when she receives a letter that changes her life forever. Not only does the letter reveal the identity of her birth parents, it also names Libby as the sole inheritor of her birth family’s abandoned mansion in London. But dark clouds hang over the derelict town house: It was the site of a grisly scene when police discovered three dead bodies stretched out in the kitchen. As Libby cautiously returns home and begins piecing together her family’s dark legacy, she’s about to discover that others have been preparing for her homecoming.

A striking red chair stands out against a black background, with the title "the final girl support group" written in bold white letters, indicating a suspenseful or thrilling novel by grady hendrix.

The Final Girl Support Group

By Grady Hendrix

With this instant New York Times bestseller, modern-day horror maestro Grady Hendrix will leave you shaking with laughter and fright. The wickedly funny horror novel focuses on Lynnette Tarkington, a woman who survived a massacre years ago and who now takes part in a support group for “final girls” — a term used in horror movies to describe the sole female survivor of unspeakable bloodbaths. When a member goes missing, it quickly becomes clear that a menacing presence is upon the group, determined to wreak havoc once again.

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