9 Suspenseful Reads Full of Real Emotion

Some people read to relax, but others prefer the excitement of a suspenseful plot full of characters who must defy insurmountable odds if they want to survive. The nine books listed here are sure to keep any reader on the edge of their seat as they delve into works about twisted minds, terrified victims, and the emotional impact of living through tragedy. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Emotional Suspense Novels: Our 9 Picks

Title Author
1. Let the Shadows Fall Behind You Kathy-Diane Leveille
2. Roadrage M.J. Johnson
3. The Night Child Anna Quinn
4. Fear of Beauty Susan Froetschel
5. The Silence Between Breaths Cath Staincliffe
6. Little Liar Lisa Ballantyne
7. Enemies of Peace M.K. Williams
8. Long Hill Home Kathryn Pincus
9. Don't Close Your Eyes Holly Seddon

What is Suspense?

Suspense is a feeling that is essentially a mixture of excitement, fascination, tension, and anxiety. It is often caused by a dramatic work, like one of the novels listed above or a film by Alfred Hitchcock. It can also arise due to real-life circumstances, although that's usually a lot less pleasant as the danger involved is actually a threat. In a book or movie, the audience knows that the villains and dark situations aren't real and can't hurt them, so they can enjoy the rush of adrenaline caused by suspense. This keeps fans of thrillers and mysteries coming back for more.

How Do Writers Create Suspense?

In Depth

Some mysteries and thrillers focus on emotionally detached sleuths and cases where the killer is simply after money. The titles on this list go a step further, tackling difficult relationships and characters facing hard truths, allowing readers to really get invested in the twists that come. Here, in no particular order, are nine books that are as emotional as they are thrilling.

Starting off the list at #1 is "Let the Shadows Fall Behind You" by Kathy-Diane Leveille. After Brannagh's boyfriend disappears, she returns to her hometown to seek solace in her childhood friends. While struggling with her most recent loss, she must also cope with her unresolved feelings about the murder of her mother fifteen years prior. As she searches for clues to her boyfriend's whereabouts, she also uncovers secrets she isn't prepared to learn.

At #2 is "Roadrage" by M.J. Johnson. After Gil Harper is the victim of a road rage incident, his dog is poisoned, and his car is vandalized, he worries that his girlfriend, Sally, is hiding something. Her ex-boyfriend is a suspect in the attacks, until he is found murdered in a hit-and-run accident. Could this be the work of one person, or are these unrelated coincidences? Gil's gentle and kind nature is put to the test as he hunts for the person who's been terrorizing him.

Her ex-boyfriend is a suspect in the attacks, until he is found murdered in a hit-and-run accident.

In the #3 spot is Anna Quinn's "The Night Child." After seeing a ghostly vision of a young girl's face, Nora dismisses it as a hallucination caused by stress. But when she sees the same girl again, Nora seeks medical help to understand what is happening to her. Repressed memories resurface, and she must face disturbing details of her childhood she had long forgotten. Dealing with these old psychological wounds, as well as her current problems, forces her to acknowledge her deep unhappiness and make difficult choices.

#4 is "Fear of Beauty" by Susan Froetschel. In an Afghan village occupied by American soldiers, the body of a young man is found at the bottom of a cliff. The man's mother, Sofi, is the only one determined to uncover the truth behind her son's death. Despite the threat to her safety, she defies custom and secretly learns to read so she can investigate. She finds an ally in a US Army soldier, and, with his help, pushes through her grief to find justice for her son.

At #5 is "The Silence Between Breaths" by Cath Staincliffe. Eight strangers on a train are forever connected by a single act of terrorism. The stories of the passengers are woven together to show how they came to be in the same place on this fateful day, when a suicide bomber boards their train. Who will survive the attack, and who will lose their life in this tragedy? The emotional implications of this devastating event are portrayed through the survivors' journeys toward healing and the grief of those who lost loved ones.

The emotional implications of this devastating event are portrayed through the survivors' journeys toward healing and the grief of those who lost loved ones.

Next, at #6, we have "Little Liar" by Lisa Ballantyne. Nick, a drama teacher with a clean record and good reputation, has his world shattered when he is arrested for sexual assault. His student, Angela, has accused him of something that will change the lives of everyone involved. It is clear she is traumatized and is the victim of an unthinkable act, but what and by whom remains a mystery. Nick maintains his innocence, but the shame and fear hold fast to him and his family despite his insistence. Will Angela ever be honest about what happened to her, or has she told the truth already?

#7 is "Enemies of Peace" by M.K. Williams. The pursuit of the American dream has dictated Timothy and Cynthia Lawson's entire lives. They move into an expensive new house, only to realize mysterious circumstances surround the previous owners, and their new neighbors seem to be plotting against them. The Lawsons are obsessed with upholding their image despite financial problems, and their lifestyle is crumbling around them as they struggle to keep up the charade. Greed, jealousy, and desperation may ultimately cost them their lives.

In the #8 spot is "Long Hill Home" by Kathryn Pincus. After being attacked while jogging, Kelly Malloy's unconscious body is found by Chad, a young man in her neighborhood. He tries to help her, but is instead accused of the crime. Maria, the only witness, worries about her citizenship status and is reluctant to testify for fear of deportation. These three individuals are forever connected as they try to cope with the aftermath of this one event that takes over their lives.

These three individuals are forever connected as they try to cope with the aftermath of this one event that takes over their lives.

Lastly, at #9, is "Don't Close Your Eyes" by Holly Seddon. Twins Robin and Sarah, separated as teenagers when their parents divorced, have grown apart and rarely speak to one another. They have not yet dealt with traumas they experienced as children, and those issues resurface now that both are facing difficult times. In a moment of desperation, Sarah reaches out to Robin for help, unaware that Robin also needs a friend. As they reconnect, the secrets from their past come out, culminating in an ending readers won't see coming.