For the people like me, who some times have a hard time separating reality and fiction after they put a book down— serial killer novels are the worst. Why? Because serial killers AREN'T fiction. They are one of the scariest and real threats out there (reading these can leave me paranoid for daaaays).
At the same time, researching the psychology and motives that drive serial killers is disturbingly fascinating. Also, reading or watching scary situations allows us to experience emotions and situations in a safe space.
From USA Today, "Why we like to be scared"
"On a psychological level there’s an appeal to vicariously experience what’s forbidden, bizarre or dark. Horror films in particular allow us to explore the experience of fear in an enjoyable and safe way. They also allow us to identify with the bad guy without getting ourselves into too much trouble. Many of us have a need to expose ourselves to sensations which are different from our daily routine. This helps us to feel more stimulated by life. Identifying with the dark side of human nature can be quite cathartic for us as well.
Creepy stories help us to release strong emotions. Let’s face it, most of us, in our daily lives, don’t have a way to release these types of intense and unimaginable feelings (which is probably a good thing). There are benefits to let go of these pent up fears and let them run their course when we have the chance."
So whether you're like me and can't handle something too scary, but still enjoy the thrill—or are someone who revels in the terrifying— today I thought I would put together three degrees of serial killer fiction to wrap up your summer!
1. I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous, and he knows it.
He's spent his life doing his best not to live up to his potential.
He's obsessed with serial killers, but really doesn't want to become one. So for his own sake, and the safety of those around him, he lives by rigid rules he's written for himself, practicing normal life as if it were a private religion that could save him from damnation.
Dead bodies are normal to John. He likes them, actually. They don't demand or expect the empathy he's unable to offer. Perhaps that's what gives him the objectivity to recognize that there's something different about the body the police have just found behind the Wash-n-Dry Laundromat---and to appreciate what that difference means.
Now, for the first time, John has to confront a danger outside himself, a threat he can't control, a menace to everything and everyone he would love, if only he could.
I am a personal fan of this series. It's creepy, it's disturbing, the main character is named after real life serial killer,John Wayne Gacy.
..but it's also a YA and I would recommend it to teens looking for a thriller appropriate to their age. So while it still is unsettling, the overall message I got from these is about a boy with serial killer tendencies trying his hardest to be good. Perfect for someone who enjoys a thrill, but isn't life-ruining or too graphic.
2. Eeny Meeny by MJ Arlige
Two people are abducted, imprisoned, and left with a gun. As hunger and thirst set in, only one walks away alive.
It’s a game more twisted than any Detective Helen Grace has ever seen. If she hadn’t spoken with the shattered survivors herself, she almost wouldn’t believe them.
Helen is familiar with the dark sides of human nature, including her own, but this case—with its seemingly random victims—has her baffled. But as more people go missing, nothing will be more terrifying than when it all starts making sense....
This is where we take it a level up. A fast-paced psychological thriller full of mind games and murder. For these last two books, I consulted some of my favorite thriller reviewers, since they are out of my realm of comfort.
Crime by the Book,
one of my top favorite reviewers for thrillers said this in her review
:"So what exactly makes EENY MEENY great? A strong female lead, a story unburdened by unnecessary details, a satisfyingly twisted villain, short chapters that keep you turning the pages as quickly as you can… these are just a few of the things I loved about this book. Mainly, this book is fun. (As much as a book about a serial killer can be.) Bring it with you on your next vacation, and you’ll fly through it before you arrive at your destination. It will leave you wanting more, and it will keep you hooked. At the end of the day, that’s what makes a great thriller."3. The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund
It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.
Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.
This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.
This is the world of the Crow Girl.
I'm going to admit straight up that I could never ever bring myself to read this one. All my friends who read this agreed that it was not for the beginning thrill reader. This is for those with a strong stomach and ability to really detach reality from fiction. This one is brutal, as it mainly deals with the brutal murders of children.
Thank you to Folded Pages Distillery for collaborating with us! All text and photos credited to her. Make sure to keep up with FPD through the blog and Instagram. You can pick up the Cereal Killer Dolman Tee that she is wearing here.
Probably drinking her third cup of tea and watching Gossip Girl.