8 Thrilling Novellas to Read in One Sitting

Carolina Ciucci


Carolina Ciucci is a teacher, writer and reviewer based in the south of Argentina. She hoards books like they’re going out of style. In case of emergency, you can summon her by talking about Ireland, fictional witches, and the Brontë family. Twitter: @carolinabeci

Amazon Publishing

Special Agent Constant Marlowe is tasked with investigating a serial killer trolling the small town of Clark Valley in the quiet—and eerie—plains of the Midwest. Two victims in quick succession, the same brutal MO, and every indication that the next victim number is only days away. Constant will do anything to protect this town, but nothing in Clark Valley is quite what it seems. From bestselling author Jeffery Deaver comes a riveting novella. Read and listen FREE with Prime.

A good novella is one of a reader’s greatest pleasures. Short, concise, and to the point, a novella offers all the enjoyment of a full novel with only a portion of the time commitment. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good brick of a novel, but sometimes short and sweet does the trick. Especially when you can’t afford to One More Chapter your way into a 3 a.m. bedtime.

Now, you may be wondering what exactly counts as a novella: a manuscript is considered a novella when it has an approximate word count of 20,000 to 50,000, which usually translates to 80-130 pages — though sometimes it goes lower or higher, and there is considerable overlap between a novelette and a novella, and a novella and a short novel.

Novellas have a limited space to pack a punch, which is precisely what makes them so thrilling when they succeed at what they set out to do. The eight novellas on this list do just that in their respective genres: you’ll find everything from fantasy to romantic suspense, including thrillers and literary fiction. The one thing they have in common? You won’t be able to put them down until you’ve reached the end.

8 Thrilling Novellas to Read in One Sitting

Cover of Ransom Road by Anya Mora

Ransom Road (Liars Island) by Anya Mora

When Waverly hires Nanny Bexley, she hopes to get help with little Rosie. What she gets instead is a nightmare and a desperate fight to get her daughter back.

book cover of Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Esther’s best friend, whom she was in love with, has just been executed for possession of resistance propaganda. But Esther’s problems don’t end there: her father has arranged her marriage to her love’s fiancé. What’s a girl to do? Hide in the Librarians’ book wagon, of course.

Cover of The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay

Pishima, a child bride who wasn’t allowed to remarry, is determined to spend her afterlife making the Mitra family pay for it. She recruits young Somlata to guard her box of gold, but things may not go as expected. And where does Boshon fit into it?

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson Book Cover

Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson

When two young artists meet in a London pub, they seem destined to be together. But that doesn’t mean that the world will let them stay together.

Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins Book Cover

Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins

Upon a friend’s death, librarian Jasmine Ware finds herself involved in a mystery revolving around an artifact from the ancient library at Timbuktu. She must work with Air Force veteran Torr Noble in order to find her way out of this chaos…and save her life.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo Book Cover

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (The Singing Hills Cycle)

When In-yo is sent to marry an emperor, she isn’t counting on Rabbit, a handmaiden sold to the palace. Amidst constant danger, the two find something more in each other.

Cover of The Past Is Red

The Past Is Red by Catherynne M. Valente

Tetley loves her home of Garbagetown, and Garbagetown loves her right back. But when she makes a new friend and uncovers a secret, Tetley finds that she might be in over her head.

cover of Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark; illustration of raised Black hands in front of a KKK hood

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

The Ku Klux Klan is monstrous as is. Now imagine, what if you added a supernatural tinge to it? It’s a good thing Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword to fight “Ku Kluxes.” It’s not so good that in order to do so, she must travel between worlds.

Can’t get enough of novellas? Try these 10 great novellas by authors of color, these 28 romance novellas, or this roundup of 50(!) short reads under 250 pages. Looking for more thrilling reads? Pick up these twisty suspense novels and 15 of the best mystery thrillers.