I think about Amy Adams’s performance in HBO’s Sharp Objects adaptation at least once a week. I suck down mysteries like they’re candy, but hardly does one stick with me the way Gillian Flynn’s debut has. Since experiencing Sharp Objects in both available mediums last summer, I’ve remained on the lookout for other stories that give me a similar feeling of creeping dread. (I never claimed to be normal, okay!) These 15 books like Sharp Objects will have you reading to the very last page in just one sitting.
Young Adult Books Like Sharp Objects
Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
Book Riot’s Amanda Nelson compared Kuehn’s dark and twisty YA novel to Sharp Objects in another post, and based on the description I’d have to agree with that assessment. Cate Henry was sent to juvenile detention for committing arson two years ago, but now she’s free—and she’s determined her brother Jamie a message.
All of This is True by Lygia Day Penafor
My favorite aspect of Sharp Objects is the portrayal of teenage girls and how complex their relationships with each other can be. All of This is True takes these themes even further, and adds a heaping dose of fan lore.
Adult Books like Sharp Objects
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Like Sharp Objects‘s Camille Preaker, Lane Roanoke makes a reluctant return to her grandparents’ country mansion to investigate a disappearance. The story is told in dual timelines, following teenage Lane over the course of one summer and present-day Lane as she seeks to uncover the secrets buried at Roanoke. This book gave me the same sense of foreboding I felt reading Flynn’s novel for the first time.
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott is a master at telling teenage stories suitable for an adult audience, and this is one of my favorites. The Knox family is dedicated to one cause and one cause only—helping their daughter Devon reach her full potential as a gymnast. But when a member of their gym community is killed, it threatens to upend their goals.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
While very different in tone from Sharp Objects, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut also grapples effectively with the theme of difficult family relationships, especially between sisters. And murder, of course.
The Secret Place by Tana French
I love all of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels, but this is probably my favorite. Atmospheric and haunting, it explores the drama of young womanhood playing out at a boarding school that just happens to be the site of a brutal unsolved murder. As Detective Stephen Moran revisits the case based on new clues, he finds himself unpacking the complex relationships between a tightly knit group of girls.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is the master of quiet horror that builds and builds to a crescendo. This novel follows sisters Mary Katherine and Constance Blackwood as they continue to live in their dilapidated mansion after the rest of their family has died under strange circumstances.
Promise Not to Tell by Jennifer McMahon
A murder in her small Vermont hometown reminds Kate Cypher of the unsolved death of her friend Del (cruelly nicknamed “Potato Girl” by her classmates) thirty years ago. Can she find answers all these decades after the fact? Even the cover of this one gives me the creeps, if I’m being totally honest.
Confessions by Kinae Minato
This buzzy thriller-of-the-moment is about Yuko Moriguchi, a soon-to-be-former middle school teacher. Before she leaves the classroom behind forever, she’s going to get her revenge on the two students responsible for the death of her beloved young daughter.
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
All you really need to know going into this story is this: children are really freaking creepy.
The Girls by Emma Cline
While not a mystery in the strict sense, the clear Manson Family cult influence infuses this beautifully written coming of age drama with Flynn-style tension. I promise that you won’t forget Evie Boyd, or Cline’s lyrical prose, anytime soon.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Steinbeck’s classic is essentially a retelling of the Book of Genesis set in the Salinas Valley of California. While not necessarily similar to Sharp Objects in plot or theme, there are underlying tensions a dark character motivations that would likely appeal to Flynn fans.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
If the Southern setting and themes of motherhood are what interest you most about Sharp Objects, you can’t miss the late Toni Morrison’s extremely powerful work about Sethe, an escaped slave haunted by the ghost of her deceased baby girl, known only as Beloved. This is an essential read for absolutely everyone.
The Quelling by Barbara Barrow
In short: Sisterhood is complicated.
The Dinner by Herman Koch
I felt slightly nauseous for about three days after I watched the movie adaptation of The Dinner. The premise is really unique; two couples meet for dinner to discuss their children, and the reader finds out exactly why as the meal unfolds.