The best books about psychological manipulation

Sylvie Perry Author Of The Hawthorne School
By Sylvie Perry

Who am I?

Psychological manipulation is a special interest of mine. In my “day job,” I am a psychotherapist with a focus on survivors of narcissistic abuse. I understand this dynamic well; I seek to understand it better; and I continue to be fascinated by it, both in my therapy practice and in my writing.


I wrote...

The Hawthorne School

By Sylvie Perry,

Book cover of The Hawthorne School

What is my book about?

Claudia Vera is overwhelmed. She’s a single parent trying the best that she can, but her four-year-old son, Henry, is a handful–for her and for his preschool. When Claudia hears about a school with an atypical teaching style near her Chicagoland home, she has to visit. The Hawthorne School is beautiful and has everything she dreams of for Henry: time to play outside, music, and art.

The school is good for Henry: his “behavioral problems” disappear, and he comes home subdued instead of rageful. But there’s something a bit off about the school, its cold halls, and its enigmatic headmistress. When Henry brings home stories of ceremonies in the woods and odd rules, Claudia’s instincts tell her that something isn’t quite right. 

The books I picked & why

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Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Rebecca

Why this book?

This classic psychological thriller is a favorite of mine because of the strong atmosphere (the estate of Manderley, by the sea) and because of the beautiful writing (always a requirement for me).  Our narrator, whose name we never learn, is young, deferential, and lacking in confidence—and so was I many years ago when I first read this book. Since then I have read it half a dozen times. It does bear re-reading. The strongest personality in the book is that of Rebecca, who is dead. This is not a ghost story, but it might as well be. 

Rebecca

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

22 authors picked Rebecca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory…


The Hidden

By Melanie Golding,

Book cover of The Hidden

Why this book?

Golding is an excellent stylist and manages to combine the detective story with the fantastical element of Irish myth: the Selkie. Is the young mother truly a seal longing to return to the sea? Who is not fascinated by a creature from another world? I know I am. Like her, I have sometimes felt that I am only a visitor here, yearning for my true home. Maybe we have all known something of that feeling, and that’s why we know that on some level, the Selkie is real. The audiobook narration is superb.

The Hidden

By Melanie Golding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following her acclaimed debut Little Darlings, Melanie Golding's newest folkloric suspense is a spine-tingling twist on Celtic mythology.

One dark December night, in a small seaside town, a little girl is found abandoned. When her mother finally arrives, authorities release the pair, believing it to be an innocent case of a toddler running off.

Gregor, a seemingly single man, is found bludgeoned and left for dead in his apartment, but the discovery of children's toys raises more questions than answers.
 
Every night, Ruby gazes into Gregor’s apartment, leading to the discovery of his secret family: his unusually silent daughter and…

Goodnight Beautiful

By Aimee Molloy,

Book cover of Goodnight Beautiful

Why this book?

If you don’t mind having your notion of what is really going on upended—again and againthis is the book for you. Maybe what I love most is that the voice of our main actor is so authentic—and often funny. In my opinion, this novel is a masterpiece. Again, if you like audiobooks, this one is extremely well done.

Goodnight Beautiful

By Aimee Molloy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Goodnight Beautiful as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From 'master of clever misdirection' (Kirkus Reviews) Aimee Molloy, author of the New York Times bestseller The Perfect Mother, comes an irresistible psychological thriller featuring a newly married woman whose life is turned upside down when her husband goes missing.

'Aimee Molloy is a master of deception and Goodnight Beautiful is a thrill-ride packed with twists. Enthralling, sharp, and clever, this book will keep you guessing' SAMANTHA DOWNING, bestselling author of MY LOVELY WIFE

'Goodnight Beautiful isn't only the most suspenseful novel you'll read this year; it's likely to be the funniest, too. I wish that every book, in every…


Behind Her Eyes

By Sarah Pinborough,

Book cover of Behind Her Eyes

Why this book?

If, like me, and like the White Queen in Alice through the Looking Glass, you can believe six impossible things before breakfast, then you will certainly love this book. What you think is going on—is not. This is a book that turns all your assumptions upside down. You won’t be able to predict the ending: it’s beyond anything you could have guessed. And the characters are complex, enigmatic, yet real. You’re in for a wild journey. Highly recommend.

Behind Her Eyes

By Sarah Pinborough,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Behind Her Eyes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Don't Trust This Book Don't Trust These People Don't Trust Yourself And whatever you do, DON'T give away that ending...

Louise

Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets...

David

Young, successful and charming - Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife...

Adele

Beautiful, elegant and sweet - Louise's new friend seems perfect in every way. As she…


Rosemary's Baby

By Ira Levin,

Book cover of Rosemary's Baby

Why this book?

Written in 1967, this short book packs a psychological wallop. It also influenced so many thrillers to come. I love to laugh, and this is a little bit of comedy, and a little bit of social commentary, all wrapped up in a horror story. It’s not gory in a physical sense. But we recognize the universal experience: the murderous betrayal of trust, which is central to so much psychological suspense. People are not what they seem, it seems.

Rosemary's Baby

By Ira Levin,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Rosemary's Baby as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The Swiss watchmaker of the suspense novel' Stephen King

Rosemary Woodhouse and her struggling actor-husband, Guy, move into the Bramford, an old New York City apartment building with an ominous reputation and only elderly residents. Neighbours Roman and Minnie Castavet soon come nosing around to welcome them; despite Rosemary's reservations about their eccentricity and the weird noises that she keeps hearing, her husband starts spending time with them. Shortly after Guy lands a plum Broadway role, Rosemary becomes pregnant, and the Castavets start taking a special interest in her welfare.

As the sickened Rosemary becomes increasingly isolated, she begins to…


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