Do you ever read a book, turn the last page, and think: wow, this was absolutely bananas? I’m sure you have. Some books are so twisted, you don’t see it coming. Even if you knew something disturbing was going to happen, they end up going to places you did not expect them to.
These books always intrigue me, especially because I usually end up liking them a lot. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a goody two-shoes, but there is something about the bonkersness of these stories that intrigues and entertains me. I like fucked up books because they mess with you. The author could have gone any other way, but they had the courage — and the audacity — to just go there.
I considered the most fucked up books I’ve read and then asked my fellow Book Riot contributors to share theirs, and here are the most mind-bending and disturbing of the books we’ve collectively experienced.
No worries: this post has no spoilers as to what makes these books so weird. There’s just a short description of each book, and our promise that they are, in fact, absolutely fucked up.
Do you dare to read them?
Tender Is The Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica
In a not so far future, a virus has wiped animals from the Earth.
Humans could have easily become vegetarians, but no: society starts to produce humans for consumption, in a dystopian Earth in which cannibalism is now allowed, and even encouraged. But only certain humans can be eaten: beings deemed of “less quality”, bred to feed other humans.
From beginning to the wild — but extremely good — end, this book is absolutely fucked up.
The Melting by Lize Spit
I’ve talked about this book here before, in an essay about the worth of shock value, but I cannot leave it out of this list.
The wildest thing about this book is that it could have easily stayed within the confines of normal, of believable. And yet, the author decides to take an extra step and offer us something to have nightmares about.
The story is centered around a woman taking a trip back to her small hometown, and the description of the time she has spent as a child with two friends in that same town in Belgium.
Perfect Days by Raphael Montes
The blurb of this book alone is already somewhat twisted, so it is maybe of little surprise that the book turns out to be as well.
Téo Avelar is a young and lonely medical student living with a paraplegic mother and her dog in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
After meeting Clarice, an aspiring screenwriter, he quickly starts obsessing about her, going as far as kidnapping her.
Clarice And Téo embark on an adventure (that Clarice does not want to participate in), and Téo is sure that, with time and perseverance, Clarice will feel about him the same way he feels about her.
Disturbing, to say the least.
The Library At Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
This is an unusual story about siblings, and about the power of books, albeit probably not in the way we are used to seeing it.
It’s a book about magic, darkness, and a bunch of apocalyptic events.
The Hike by Drew Magary
The main character of this story is Ben, a family man.
Ben takes a business trip to Pennsylvania and, to kill time before going to his meeting dinner, he decides to take a hike all by himself.
But the hike takes a dark turn, and Ben starts encountering the strangest of creatures.
The Wideacre Trilogy by Philippa Gregory
This series is composed of three books, the first one published in 1987.
Beatrice is the daughter of the Squire Of Wideacre, a place she cherishes more than any other in the world. But at 11, Beatrice is to be married off, and an absent brother set to inherit the estate.
Several games of power start taking place, and Beatrice will go to any lengths to stay at Wideacre.
Tentacle by Rita Indiana
This is a queer, punk, dystopian novel set in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Acilde Figeroa is a young maid who finds herself in the middle of a prophecy. To them it is given the task of saving the ocean, and with it, humanity.
This is a book about the impossible and about finding oneself.
Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon
I am strangely pulled to books that deal with religious trauma, especially when there is a small community involved.
Vern is about to birth twins, so she decides to abandon the religious cult she was raised in and flee to the woods. She wants to raise her children free from the environment that raised her, but it seems that being released by her community isn’t as simple as she had envisioned.
Rosewater by Tade Thompson
This is the first book in a science fiction trilogy set in Nigeria.
Rosewater follows Kaaro, a “sensitive” whose powers stem from an alien appearance in London in 2012, which has created an impenetrable dome in Rosewater, Nigeria, in 2050.
At first, Kaaro uses his powers to steal, but after almost being executed, he is recruited by the government. The work he needs to do for them will put him in danger several times.
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Picture unicorns, but dark.
This is the first book in a series called Killer Unicorns, and that should be enough to tell you how fucked up it is.
In this series, unicorns are venomous monsters who eat men, but they are also extinct. Or are they?
Astrid, our main character, believes that to be so, until one of them attacks her boyfriend and she finds she has no other choice but to become a unicorn hunter.
I hope these stories scratch some itch, though they’ll probably also keep you awake for days, considering what the heck you’ve just read. But look on the bright side: less sleep, more time to read.
Have you enjoyed this post and want more? Try 100 Must-Read Strange, Unusual, and Downright Weird Books and 6 Strange Tales For Strange Times.