They say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but for this reader, it is a dish best served inside of a juicy novel. After all, there are few things as gripping as
thrillers about revenge, in which one character — who is as likely to be the hero of the story as they are to be the villain — will stop at nothing to get the justice they think they deserve.
Literature is rife with revenge novels. From Homer's
The Illiad and Shakespeare's Hamlet to Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express and Stephen King's Carrie, there are countless tales of vengeance, retribution, and characters living by the old "An eye for an eye" law of retaliation. And while every genre has them, it's the thriller genre where revenge stories really thrive. Whether it's in a dark murder-mystery or a tense domestic noir, revenge can be a fascinating motivation for victims and evil-doers alike. As British novelist William Makepeace Thackeray famously put it, "Revenge may be wicked, but it's natural."
From empowering stories about women getting even with their abusers to twisted tales about sociopaths and serial killers seeking retaliation for wrongs real and imagined, here are nine
thriller novels all about revenge. 'The Exes' Revenge' by Jo Jakeman
In this dark debut, a mother desperate to protect her beloved son makes a rash decision that finally gives her power over her soon-to-be ex-husband. When his ex-wife and new girlfriend get involved, the unlikely allies team up to take revenge on a man who has hurt them all, and to make sure he can never hurt them again.
Click here to buy. 'The Female of the Species' by Mindy McGinnis
Adults aren't the only ones out for revenge, at least according to
The Female of the Species. In this gripping YA thriller, a teenage seeks out revenge on her sister's killer, but what happens when she gets it? How will it change her life, and the lives of the people around her? Click here to buy. 'Gone Girl' by Gillian Flynn
When Amy Dunne goes missing on the morning of her fifth wedding anniversary, all eyes (and all suspicions) are on her husband, Nick, especially after damning diary entries reveal their relationship was anything but the picture-perfect one they tried to show the world. But is Nick guilty of hurting his wife, or does Amy have secret motivations of her own? You'll have to read this twisty revenge thriller (or watch the excellent film adaptation) to find out.
Click here to buy. 'Blindsighted' by Karin Slaughter
In her first Grant Country Thriller, bestselling author Karin Slaughter spins a dark tale about a small town rocked by the brutal murder of a young local professor. Police chief Jeffrey Tolliver is on the case, but between the ongoing investigation and the hidden agenda of the county's sole female detective Lena Adams, who won't stop until she gets the justice she thinks she deserves, he has his hands more than full.
Click here to buy. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Stieg Larsson
Revenge is at the heart of every book in Stieg Larsson's bestselling Millennium series, but it's an especially important part of
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's what motivates Lisbeth Salander in her many crusades, and it is in part what drives the central mystery in the novel — a missing girl — forward. Click here to buy. 'Different Class' by Joanne Harris
In this slick psychological suspense tale, a sociopathic young man plots revenge against the antiquated prep school that he believes wronged him in the past. When Latin teacher Roy Straitley uncovers his secret, it's up to the old curmudgeon to stop his former pupil from committing truly terrible acts.
Click here to buy. 'Sadie' by Courtney Summers
New York Times bestseller follows Sadie, a missing young girl on a mission to get revenge for her sister Mattie's death. Fascinated with her story, radio personality West McCray starts his own podcast that tracks Sadie's journey and searches for answers about her sister's murder and her own disappearance. Click here to buy. 'The Woman Inside' by E.G. Scott (Jan. 22)
This twisted domestic thriller hasn't even hit shelves yet, but it's already being adapted as a TV series by Blumhouse, the producers of
Sharp Objects. Told from the perspective of a husband and wife who are the most perfect, and possibly the most dangerous, match for one another, The Woman Inside is a dark tale of secrets, lies, unfaithfulness, and revenge that keeps readers guessing until the very end. Click here to buy. 'Save Me from Dangerous Men' by S.A. Lelchuk (Mar. 19)
This promising debut follows Nikki Griffin, a private investigator who tracks the behavior of dangerous men so that she can deliver them lessons and show them what it feels like to be victimized. But when one of her regular PI cases forces her to intervene on behalf of a threatened woman, Nikki isn't just solving a case anymore — she becomes part of it.
Click here to buy.