Pride Month and beyond, there’s never a bad time to diversify your TBR pile. Reading about people and relationships that don’t necessarily mirror our own experiences helps us grow and learn about other communities. And vice versa, reading books that exemplify characters or situations that you can relate to is all the more reason why reading is such a powerful hobby.
Queer love stories may be having a moment right now, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the thriller genre is crawling with queer characters and relationships, too. From open marriages and secret relationships to violent acts of passion and missing girlfriends, we’ve found it all. While genres like contemporary fiction and romance can read too personal or relatable, books rooted in mystery and horror transport our imaginations to insurmountable places — just be sure to sleep with a nightlight on if you get easily spooked. Just in case!
If you like thriller novels with a side of horror, may we suggest Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat? Are psychological thrillers set in remote settings your kryptonite? Make sure you check out The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz and Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen. Conversely, those who are new to the genre (hi, and welcome!) may enjoy Lucy Clarke’s One of the Girls, which is equally romance-y as it is thrilling.
Do yourself a favor and add all these thriller titles to your must-read list now.
1. The Spare Room by Andrea Bartz
In the midst of a lockdown, Kelly finds herself unemployed, claustrophobic, and broken-hearted. A generous offer from a childhood friend leads Kelly to a spare room in a remote mansion, where she can regroup and shelter in place sans the confines of her old life. What Kelly didn’t foresee happening during her stay was her growing feelings towards each of her hosts — and she definitely didn’t anticipate their toe-curling threesome. Kelly quickly becomes a more permanent fixture in her friend’s marriage. But when word breaks out about what happened to the woman prior to Kelly, she begins to reconsider her closeness to the couple.
2. Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist
For fans of Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Sarah Gailey comes a debut novel about a poor med school dropout who earns her keep by assisting a renowned doctor and waiting on his elitist family. Lena’s time with the Verdeaus takes a dangerous turn when she discovers that they are the reason for her family’s impending bankruptcy — a discovery made even more complicated when Lena realizes she has developed feelings for her boss’s daughter.
3. One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke
Novelist Lucy Clarke strikes again with one of the most tantalizing, nail-biting queer reads of the year. Told in multiple POVs, One of the Girls follows a group of six women — some of whom are newly acquainted or have known each other since diapers, and even two of whom are in a relationship — as they embark on a glamorous bachelorette party in Greece. By the time you reach the final page, secrets will be exposed, romances that were kept in the dark will come to light, and someone will be dead.
4. Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht
Set in 1960s New York City, Vera Kelly is struggling to get by. She works nights at a local radio station, which barely pays rent, and is trying to navigate Greenwich Village’s underground gay scene. Vera’s life takes an unexpected detour when she’s recruited to join the CIA and travels to Argentina in the wake of the Cold War. And if you’re wondering what Vera Kelly has been up to since her trip to Buenos Aires, check out the next two books in the series.
5. Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn
Forced into retirement, four best friends and assassins board an all-expenses-paid luxury cruise to celebrate their unwanted freedom, courtesy of the elite network they’ve dedicated the last 40 years of their lives serving. The voyage takes on a whole new meaning when they realize that the cruise isn’t cause for celebration but a death trip, and they’re the target.
6. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
A twisted story from start to finish, The Writing Retreat follows a handful of aspiring authors who gather under the roof of renowned horror writer Roza Vallo for a month-long writing retreat. Their task at hand? Write a compelling novel, one of which will get a publishing deal backed by Roza. The retreat is afoot, but when one of the writers goes missing, Alex realizes she said yes to much more than just a writing workshop.
7. The Better Liar by Tanen Jones
Upon learning that the only way she will be granted her portion of her father’s inheritance is by tracking down her estranged sister, Leslie Flores tries to locate Robin… only to find her dead sister’s body instead. Enter: an aspiring actress named Mary, who could pass for Robin’s twin. It’s the perfect solution. Mary will play the role of Robin and, in return, receive Robin’s portion of the inheritance. It’s a win-win for everybody. If only things were ever that simple.
8. Patricia Wants to Cuddle by Samantha Allen
In this queer horror comedy, a group of women compete on a TV dating show called The Catch in hopes of winning another person’s heart (and a hefty amount of followers on social media). Things go awry when the cast and crew summit a remote mountain and cross paths with Patricia, a quirky local who makes it her mission to infiltrate each and every one of their personal agendas.