If you love books with a twist you won’t see coming, these are the books with plot twists that will leave you saying, I can’t believe what I just read.
Don’t you love it when you’re reading a book, enjoying it, then all of a sudden an author throws in a plot twist so surprising you have to do a double-take?
There is something so memorable about books with a twist. The juxtaposition of what you thought was going to happen and what occurred sticks in your mind long after you’ve finished the book.
Here is my list of the best books with a twist. I’ve thrown in psychological thriller books with a twist, ya books with plot twists, classic books with a twist, books with twist endings, and stories with twists right from the start.
Best Plot Twist Books
Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
From the beginning, you will assume you are reading a book about a jealous ex-wife obsessed with her replacement. But appearances can be deceiving. Considered one of the best thriller audiobooks of recent years, The Wife Between Us will keep you glued to your seat with unreliable narration and plenty of plot twists.
Gone Girl took the book world by storm with its look at a marriage gone terribly wrong. On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears. At the top of the suspect list – her seemingly perfect husband Nick. Both husband and wife aren’t who they seem to be, so expect plenty of twists and turns (and lots of language) in this hit thriller. You might not end up loving the story or the characters, but I promise you, you’ll find them memorable enough to land it among the best books with a twist.
For years, Kya Clark has survived alone in the marshes of the North Carolina coast. Dubbed “The Marsh Girl” by the locals, she raises herself in nature after her family abandons her. Now, as she comes of age, she begins to yearn for something more than her loneliness – maybe even a connection with the locals. An exquisitely written tale, Where the Crawdads Sing is one of the best book club books with a twist to read.
M. L. Stedman
After years serving in World War I, Tom Sherbourne takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on a small island far off the Australian coast. Tom’s young and vivacious wife enjoys their life on the island until she is beaten down by years of miscarriages and stillbirths. When a baby is discovered washed ashore on a boat carrying a dead man, Tom and Isabel decide to keep her, setting up one of the most heart-wrenching conflicts you’ll ever read.
If you want a quick classic mystery, Agatha Christie is the way to go. You’ll have fun trying to figure out whodunit on an isolated island mansion where the suspects start dying off one by one. I’ll be impressed if you figure it out. I never do. A classic for a reason, this novel is surprisingly short, leaving you plenty to read even more books with a twist.
On the 19th anniversary of their son’s murder, Lord and Lady Hardcastle throw a party with the same guests as that fateful day long ago. At 11 pm, Evelyn Hardcastle is murdered. In a Groundhog Day-esque fashion, Aidan Bishop must relive this day 8 times, but from the perspective of eight different witnesses. His task: identify Evelyn’s murderer, or do it all over again. Evelyn Hardcastle will throw you into a brilliant game of Clue (plenty of book club ideas!) as you see the same events from multiple perspectives. Just ignore the why this happening and jump right into the mystery come to life, with plenty of fun twists and turns along the way.
Psychological Thriller Books with a Twist
When she was six years old, Margot’s next-door neighbor and best friend, January, was murdered in their small hometown. Now a big-city journalist, Margot returns home to help care for her uncle when another girl disappears. Convinced the two cases are connected, Margot begins to wonder how well she knows her neighbors as she searches for the truth.
After winning a trip to a remote Scotland getaway for the weekend, Adam and Amelia try one last-ditch effort to save their marriage. Amelia is tired of Adam putting his work as a screenwriter before her and Adam is just tired of Amelia. As things start to unravel and their past is revealed through secret anniversary letters Adam has never read, you find that someone is lying and someone doesn’t want them to end happily ever after. Of all the books with a twist from 2021, this is my top choice for a plot turn you won’t see coming.
One night, famous painter Alicia Berenson shoots her husband in the face 5 times, and then never utters another word again. Now criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber is determined to get the truth from this silent patient while his own life is falling apart. Even though I will admit the twist was well-done, I thought this was an overrated bestseller. Yet, with over fifty weeks on the bestseller list, most readers tend to disagree.
Taking the same train to work every day, Rachel is fascinated by a woman who lives along her route. Every day, Rachel gets a glimpse into this woman’s “perfect” life. Until one day, when Rachel witnesses something shocking. Unreliable narrators like Rachel make for the best page-turners because you can never figure out what is true and what is not. Love it or hate it, The Girl on the Train is one of the most talked-about books with a twist of the last decade.
When their babysitter bails at the last minute, new parents Anne and Marco Conti decide they can still attend a dinner party at their next-door neighbor’s house. Despite checking on baby Cora every half hour, when they return home, she is gone. Suspicion immediately falls on the panicked couple because they are both hiding secrets.
Shortly after her 25th birthday, Libby Jones learns that she has inherited an abandoned London mansion from her biological parents. Adopted as a baby, Libby is excited to learn about her birth family. But her family history is much more than she anticipates when she finds out her parents committed suicide as part of a cult, and her siblings vanished. As scary as that is, the truth is even darker. A dark and disturbing tale, you can’t look away as the truth of what happened so long ago gets more and more twisted.
When her roommate is murdered on campus, Charlie is desperate to get away. She posts a notice on her college rideshare board and snags a ride back to Ohio from a handsome stranger. However, Charlie quickly realizes that Josh isn’t who he seems. Charlie’s fragile state of mind will keep you gripped to this cat-and-mouse game.
As a child, Olivia disappeared one night while sleepwalking, only to be found safe days later. After years of enduring fame, Olivia moved away and changed her name. With the 20th anniversary of her miracle rescue coming up, she starts sleepwalking again, only to wake up to the dead body of someone she used to know. With well-rounded characters and surprises that just keep coming, it’s earned its place among the recent books with a twist.
Mystery & Thriller Books with a twist
It should be the golden years for Stan and Joy Delaney now that they’ve sold their tennis academy and settled into retirement, so why aren’t they happy? When they welcome a bleeding stranger into their home, her arrival begins a cascade of events. Now Joy is missing, and the four grown Delaney children wonder if their father might have done it.
To be near his mother in a dementia care facility, newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter move to his sleepy New York hometown. Working in a downstairs office, Sam doesn’t realize his therapy sessions with his mostly female clientele can be heard from a vent in the office upstairs, a temptation too big to resist. After Sam disappears one night in a storm, Annie wonders how well she really knew her husband. If you want a story with a twist, you can’t miss Goodnight Beautiful, a very quick read that will surprise you with not one, but two well-executed twists you will never see coming.
Rachel Krall, the host of a popular true-crime podcast, gets more than she expected when she reports on a rape trial in a small town. A mysterious woman named Hannah is stalking Rachel, leaving her notes begging her to investigate the death of Hannah’s sister twenty-five years ago. Could that cold case be connected to the current trial? The coverage of the rape trial gives the feel of a good legal thriller, keeping you wondering how the jury will decide. Add in the cold case, and you’ll be guessing how the two cases connect.
The creepiest award from the best new thrillers goes to Romy Hausmann’s German bestseller which builds to an incredibly thrilling ending. Kept locked in the woods in a windowless shack, Lena and her two children live as virtual prisoners to her “husband.” When Lena escapes, the nightmare should be over. Yet things don’t seem to be adding up, and Lena isn’t who she claims to be.
Emily has found the perfect man in Adam and is ready to tie the knot. Yet one thing stands in the way of their union – Adam’s mother. Pammie is determined to be the only woman in her son’s life, and you’ll be shocked to discover how far she is willing to go to eliminate the competition.
Pauline Green, the United States’ first female President, tries to avoid war when an act of aggression escalates and the world’s greatest powers are caught up in a tangled web of alliances. With the aid of a young intelligence officer in Chad, an undercover spy in Northern Africa, and a Chinese spymaster, Green must use all her political savvy to save the world in this political thriller book with a twist at the end.
“I need you.” Those three words send Isa Wilde running to her friend’s side. At boarding school as a teenager, Isa befriended Fatima, Thea, and Kate in a year that would change their lives. The three were inseparable and reckless, playing a game of their own making where they lied to everyone around them but not to each other. When a bone is found in the marsh, their childhood lies come back to haunt them.
In Biloxi, Mississippi, a landmark trial is underway, the first of its kind accusing a tobacco company for a man’s lung cancer death. With millions at stake, the jury begins to act oddly, with at least one claiming he is being watched. As the jury is sequestered, a mysterious woman claims she can manipulate the jury towards whichever side she wishes. Although this is one of my favorite books with a twist, I have to admit, the film adaptation is even better, swapping out a tobacco company for a gun company, whose weapon was used in a workplace shooting.
Exciting Books with Plot Twists
On the day of her father’s funeral, Lily meets Ryle, a handsome neurosurgeon, and sparks immediately fly. Although Ryle is notoriously commitment-phobic, he can’t seem to stay away from Lily. As Lily and Ryle’s relationship goes through ups and downs, Lily takes to reading her journals about her first love, Atlas. When Atlas reappears in her life, everything Lily has built with Ryle threatens to come tumbling down.
“The first rule about fight club is you don’t talk about fight club.” Although best known for its film adaptation, Palahniuk’s cynical book is also worth a read. Depressed by his lackluster job and lackluster life, the male narrator becomes enthralled by Tyler Durden, who holds secret underground boxing matches in the basement of bars.
When Kate develops leukemia as a child, her parents decide to have another child – one specifically with a perfect bone marrow match for Kate. Thus, all Anna’s life, she has undergone countless procedures to help her older sister. But now Anna has had enough and is ready to live her own life unconstrained by Kate’s illness. As Anna makes a life-or-death decision, you’ll feel torn between Anna’s needs, Kate’s needs, and the love and desperation of their mother.
Growing up, Piscine “Pi” Patel loves spending his time at the zoo his parents own. When his parents decide to move their zoo from India to Canada, he finds himself on a ship in the Pacific Ocean, never suspecting that a storm will leave him stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific struggling to survive for months at sea with a Bengal tiger as his only companion. As you near the end of this book, you’ll probably be wondering why I recommended it. Trust me, just push through to the end, for it’s the ending of this book that raises it above mediocrity. With just a few simple sentences, suddenly the author throws a plot twist so big that you must reevaluate everything you just read.
Nicholas Sparks’ books all follow the same formula, making them the best weekend reads because if you love one, you’ll love them all … and vice versa. Even though you know there will be a twist, you still don’t see it coming in this one. Kate appears in a small beachfront town in North Carolina, obviously with her guard up. But as she befriends her neighbor Jo and begins to fall for a local widower Alex, she must choose to risk letting others in and tell them of her dark past.
Sage Singer, a baker, meets Josef Weber, an old German gentleman in her grief support group. As she learns his history and his connection to her Jewish grandmother, she has to figure out the line between punishment and forgiveness. While the storytelling is interesting if not entirely believable, the moral questions raised are what sets this book apart on my lists of books with a twist.
Lawyer Dannie Cohan knows exactly where she’ll be in five years – until the night of her engagement. In her post-engagement bliss, she has a vision of herself in five years engaged to someone else. She doesn’t think much of it, until years later when she finds he is dating her best friend. While the premise sounds light-hearted, partway through the story, beach read goes out the window and thought-provoking steps in. You’ll feel compelled to know if the vision came true and surprised at how well Serle counters your expectations.
Historical Fiction Books with Best Plot Twists
One summer day in 1934, 13-year-old Briony Tallis misunderstands a flirtation between her older sister and a neighborhood boy, with devastating consequences. Now, as World War 2 rages, an older Briony starts to realize the reality of what happened and the full repercussions she has caused. Can Briony find atonement or is it too late? No matter what you do, make sure to read until the very end, because the ending is what makes this one of those books that move you to rethink everything you just read.
Code Name Verity immerses you in a world of intrigue with the story of a British spy, Agent “Verity.” Captured when her plane crashes in occupied France, Verity is interrogated by the Gestapo in an attempt to learn of her mission. As she confesses under torture, you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering what secrets she is willing to exchange for her life. How far is she willing to go for her mission? A brilliant and emotional read that makes a great book club recommendation.
An unforgettable story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy Afghan boy and the son of his father’s servant that beautifully describes love, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. Be warned that the novel is violent and graphic at times, so understand that while moving, the story is dark and disturbing. It’s that contrast between the worst of human nature and the best that truly brings out a remarkable tale that will stay with you for a long time.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In post-World War II Spain, Daniel receives a copy of the only surviving copy of the book, The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. When Daniel embarks on a quest to discover more of Carax’s history, he encounters a man determined to conceal everything about Carax. Books like this one remind me why I never want to write fiction; I could never come close to his exquisite use of the written word.
It all starts when sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson witnesses her mother Dorothy stab a man to death on a calm summer day. If that doesn’t get your interest piqued, I don’t know what will. Kate Morton masterfully unfolds the backstory of Dorothy’s life during World War II. The more you learn about Dorothy, the more you’ll keep wanting more.
YA Books with Plot Twists
You will have to settle for a vague description of this book, which is now a top TikTok recommendation because I don’t dare risk spoiling it for you. As the protagonist Cadence slowly starts regaining her memory and all the details of what happened start becoming clear, half the fun is in trying to figure out what is going on. I enjoyed trying to piece the mystery of this book together. All I can say is that at some point, this story will make you cry. But that is all the spoiler you will get from me.
Maddy lives her whole life in a bubble. She has a rare disease that causes her to be allergic to everything. Trapped in her house all day every day, she is curious when a cute boy moves in next door. Soon, Maddy has fallen head over heels for Olly and must decide how much she is willing to risk in this young adult novel.
Meet Thomas, a boy who wakes up among a group of boys inside a creepy labyrinth with no memory of his past. Every day, runners are sent out through the surrounding maze full of dark creatures desperate to find an escape. Until one day, a girl appears, with a message that time is running out.
Karen M. McManus
In her debut novel, Karen M. McManus gives you a fascinating young adult book with a twist. Five students walk into detention one afternoon: intelligent Bronwyn, gorgeous Addy, athletic Cooper, bad boy Nate, and outcast Simon, who dies before detention is over. The creator of the high school’s gossip app, Simon was just about to release exposes on the other four students, making each of them suspects in his death.
Megan Whalen Turner
Among the best fantasy ya books with a twist is The Queen’s Thief series. Sitting in the King’s prison is a young thief named Gen who claims he can steal anything. So the king and his Magus put him to the test, needing him to steal a treasure that will let the King control other lands. But Gen has an agenda of his own, and it’s anyone’s guess which side he is on.
A genetic twist of fate has split mankind into two castes. The Silvers are the ruling elite, with superhuman powers coursing through their silver-blooded veins. On the other hand, the regular red-blooded humans live as expendable commoners. While working at the Palace, Mare Barrow accidentally discovers she has unimaginable power, stronger than most Silvers. Can she successfully pass as a lost Silver princess or will she be discovered as a spy for the Red resistance movement?
Classic Books with a Twist
At the start of the French Revolution, one man, known only as The Scarlet Pimpernel, risks it all to save innocent men, women, and children from the Guillotine. Stuck in an estranged marriage to a dull British aristocrat, Marguerite is entranced by the Pimpernel’s daring deeds. Yet, when her brother is threatened, she agrees to help a ruthless French agent discover the Pimpernel’s true identity.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins Charles Dickens’ novel set amid the violence of the French Revolution. With wonderful characters and a gripping story, this classic tale reminds you that violence only begets violence and that it is never too late to find redemption.
Orphaned as a child, Jane Eyre has always felt like an outcast. She gladly accepts a position as a governess at Thornfield Hall, caring for Adele, the young ward of the brooding Mr. Rochester. Soon Jane has fallen in love with Rochester’s troubled but kind soul, but a lurking secret at Thornfield Hall threatens to leave her heartbroken.
I know I shouldn’t have two Dickens’s novels on my list of books with a twist, but I couldn’t resist adding the story of Pip, the humble orphan who dreams of becoming a gentleman. Pip’s fortune changes when an eccentric wealthy spinster asks for a boy to come visit her. Over the ensuing years, Pip spends time at Miss Havisham’s house and falls for her aloof adopted daughter, Estella. After years as an apprentice, Pip is anonymously given a sum of money that will let him live as a gentleman but feels the gift comes with great expectations of him.
Daphne du Maurier
Working as a lady’s maid in Monte Carlo, the narrator is swept off her feet by the handsome widower Maxim de Winter. After a rushed courtship and impulsive marriage, she returns as his wife to his beautiful estate, Manderley. Yet, she quickly learns she is not the true mistress of the estate, as the household will not let her forget the memory of Rebecca, de Winter’s first wife who drowned the year before.
What Do You Think Are the Best Books with a Twist?
What do you think? Do you love a good plot twist? What twist books did I forget to add to my list? As always, let me know in the comments!
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