10 books like The Darkest Secret

By Alex Marwood,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Darkest Secret. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The New Wilderness

By Diane Cook,

Book cover of The New Wilderness

This book changed my mind. 

Bea’s five-year-old daughter is frail and sickly, a victim of rampant air pollution. In an effort to save her, Bea and her family join an experimental program that requires them to live in the wild as nomadic hunters and gatherers. I must admit, I was initially drawn to the idea of trading the rat race for the wilderness. (No more alarm clocks! No more traffic jams!) But by the time I finished the book, that notion had lost its appeal. (No food pantries! No hospitals! Starvation! Death!) Exploring this intriguing but brutal scenario from the comfort of my living room is as close as I care to get!

The New Wilderness

By Diane Cook,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The New Wilderness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'THE ENVIRONMENTAL NOVEL OF OUR TIMES.' Lemn Sissay, Booker Prize judge

From an acclaimed Guardian First Book Award finalist comes a debut novel 'brutal and beautiful in equal measure' (Emily St. John Mandel)

Longlisted for the DUBLIN Literary Award 2022

A Guardian Best Science Fiction Book of the Year

A 'Best Book of the Year 2020' according to BBC Culture * An Irish Times Best Debut Fiction of 2020

Bea's daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away, her lungs ravaged by the smog and pollution of the overpopulated metropolis they call home.

The only alternative is to build a life in…


American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins,

Book cover of American Dirt

This book rocked my world.

Lydia and her young son begin a harrowing journey from Mexico to the United States after being targeted for death by a drug cartel. American Dirt has everything I relish in a story: a riveting plot, top-notch writing, believable characters, and spot-on dialogue. What’s more, it drives home the plight of migrants in a way that news stories can’t. I didn’t just read this book; I lived it. I became that desperate mother. And I too would trek across deserts and leap onto moving trains to save my child.

American Dirt

By Jeanine Cummins,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked American Dirt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*NOW A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK AT BEDTIME*
'Breathtaking... I haven't been so entirely consumed by a book for years' Telegraph
'I'll never stop thinking about it' Ann Patchett

FEAR KEEPS THEM RUNNING. HOPE KEEPS THEM ALIVE.

Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is an unforgettable story of a mother and son's attempt to cross the US-Mexico border. Described as 'impossible to put down' (Saturday Review) and 'essential reading' (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved…


The Chain

By Adrian McKinty,

Book cover of The Chain

This book made me wonder.

Rachel’s daughter has been kidnapped, and to get her back, Rachel must pay a ransom and abduct another child. The kidnapper is another mother whose child has been kidnapped—by someone else whose child has been kidnapped, by someone else whose... Well. You get the idea. As I tore through this novel, I couldn’t help wondering what I would do in that situation. Could I actually kidnap somebody else’s child? I still don’t have an answer, but watching this ingenious plot unfold was a rollercoaster ride I’ll never forget.

The Chain

By Adrian McKinty,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Chain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


When a mother is targeted by a dangerous group of masterminds, she must commit a crime to save her kidnapped daughter—or risk losing her forever—in this "propulsive and original" award-winning thriller (Stephen King).

It's something parents do every morning: Rachel Klein drops her daughter at the bus stop and heads into her day. But a cell phone call from an unknown number changes everything: it's a woman on the line, informing her that she has Kylie bound and gagged in her back seat, and the only way Rachel will see her again is to follow her instructions exactly: pay a…

Do Not Become Alarmed

By Maile Meloy,

Book cover of Do Not Become Alarmed: A Novel

This book made me shudder. 

Three families on a cruise go ashore in Central America. Then the unthinkable happens: their children vanish. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced that particular nightmare, but years ago my four-year-old son went AWOL for about five minutes while we were at the airport. I was a quivering blob of panic until kiddo turned up safe and sound. Of course, for the parents in this story, the terror stretches on for much longer than five minutes—and, believe me, you wouldn’t want it any other way. The unrelenting tension is just one of the elements that make this novel such a compelling read.

Do Not Become Alarmed

By Maile Meloy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Do Not Become Alarmed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship's comforts and possibilities seem infinite. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor mishaps lead the families further from the ship's safety.

One minute the children are there, and the next they're gone.

What follows is a heart-racing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the distraught parents - now turning on one another and blaming themselves - try to recover their children and their shattered lives.


The Lying Game

By Sara Shepard,

Book cover of The Lying Game

Mystery. Suspense. The fear of getting found out at any moment. The Lying Game has it all and it's got it in a heart stopping read. You want to keep unraveling the mystery and finding clues right along with the main character. It's impossible to call her by her name because even her name has to change as the events of the story unfold. 

The idea of switching places definitely wasn't new by the time this book came out but in this version of the classic plot, you're terrified every minute and on your guard the entire time. This is delightfully tense and suspenseful in a way that captures classic Hitchcock movies and that feeling that you're alone...but you're not alone.

The Lying Game

By Sara Shepard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the New York Times bestselling PRETTY LITTLE LIARS comes a killer new series, THE LYING GAME.

Sutton Mercer had a life anyone would kill for - and someone did. But thanks to a view from the afterlife and Emma Paxton, her long-lost twin sister, Sutton has a chance to solve her own murder. Emma slips into Sutton's old life to piece together her disappearance. But can Emma keep up the charade long enough to discover what really happened to Sutton...or will she become the next victim?

Let the lying games begin.


A Face for Picasso

By Ariel Henley,

Book cover of A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome

This first-person account of what it’s like to grow up visibly different is beautifully written, and manages to be both heartrending and uplifting at the same time. Henley does a stellar job of keeping the reader invested in her struggles, and her musings on how pervasive the idea of arbitrary physical traits and one’s value as an individual is, makes for an uncomfortable but necessary read. A must-read for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t fit in.

A Face for Picasso

By Ariel Henley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Face for Picasso as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Raw and unflinching . . . A must-read!" --Marieke Nijkamp, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends

"[It] cuts to the heart of our bogus ideas of beauty." -Scott Westerfeld, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Uglies

I am ugly. There's a mathematical equation to prove it.

At only eight months old, identical twin sisters Ariel and Zan were diagnosed with Crouzon syndrome -- a rare condition where the bones in the head fuse prematurely. They were the first twins known to survive it.

Growing up, Ariel and her sister endured numerous appearance-altering procedures. Surgeons would…

The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Book cover of The City of Ember

This book is closer to MG than YA, but great all the same. It takes place underground and the lights keep going out. How creepy is that! I couldn’t wait to find out why they were down there and see if they could get out! While I was reading it, I kept wondering what happened? What made them go underground, and why did they stay? I won’t tell you what happens, but I will say this book was thought-provoking and a really fascinating read.

The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The City of Ember as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ember is the only light in a dark world. But when its lamps begin to flicker, two friends must race to escape the dark. This highly acclaimed adventure series is a modern-day classic-with over 4 MILLION copies sold!

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to dim. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she's sure it holds a secret that will save the city. Now, she and her friend Doon must race to figure out the clues to…

Luck of the Titanic

By Stacey Lee,

Book cover of Luck of the Titanic

Sometimes you think you know all about a famous incident, I mean the Titanic has been overdone in films and books, right? Well, Stacey Lee gives it a totally fresh approach from the point of view of a young Chinese-English teen, Valora Luck. And while this is a fictional take on what might have happened, the fact that there were Chinese people onboard The Titanic, who at that time would not have been allowed into the USA makes for a gripping and thought-provoking read. And then of course there’s Stacey Lee’s wonderful storytelling!

Valora Luck has a dream that one day she and her brother will be famous acrobats, touring America. But once she’s on board The Titanic, she soon discovers she must hide her identity, both as a girl and as a servant, and use her talents to save her brother and his motley band of friends. But like…

Luck of the Titanic

By Stacey Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luck of the Titanic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Downstairs Girl comes the richly imagined story of Valora and Jamie Luck, twin British-Chinese acrobats travelling aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise though, she's turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese people aren't allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother…


Loot

By Jude Watson,

Book cover of Loot

Loot is a really fun book about kids for whom thievery runs in the family. Twelve-year-old March sees his father die during a heist, and now March is on a mission to find the precious stones that will reverse the curse on his family. On the way, he meets the twin sister he never knew he had, and together, they set out to find the jewels. What I love most about this book is that March is kind of an anti-hero. He’s not the all-around good guy that readers find in so many middle grade books. He loves being a thief and wants to carry on his father’s legacy. But, of course, March is a great kid at heart, and I couldn’t help but root for him all the way through this maze of a mystery.

Loot

By Jude Watson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"LOOT hits the jackpot." -- Rick Riordan, #1 New York Times bestselling author

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It's Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he's dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: "Find jewels."But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He's talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they're picked up by the police…

The Black Tides of Heaven

By Neon Yang,

Book cover of The Black Tides of Heaven

As a fellow genderqueer/non-binary Asian writer, I’m happy to champion the first in Neon Yang’s Tensorate series. A YA novella set in a non-Western fantasy landscape, this book tackles issues of gender identity and choice head-on, introducing us to a society where children are referred to individually using they/them pronouns, and can select one of the binary genders when they come of age or chose to remain non-binary. We see the world through the eyes of twins Mokoya and Akeha as they come into their gender expressions and their powers in a feudal, monastic society largely reminiscent of those found in Asian history.

The Black Tides of Heaven

By Neon Yang,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Black Tides of Heaven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Joyously wild stuff. Highly recommended." ―The New York Times

One of the 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time, according to Time Magazine

A Finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards for Best Novella

The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to Neon Yang's Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls "effortlessly fascinating." For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune, available simultaneously.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as infants. While Mokoya developed her…


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