10 Settings to Give you the Creeps
Call me a thrill seeker, but there’s nothing better than a great book with a creepy setting that compels you to turn the page, even when all you want to do is stuff the book in the freezer like Joey on Friends. Here are ten recent, and less recent, novels that made me check that I’d locked the front door again before heading to bed (to read another chapter):
- THE BASEMENT in Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
A missing fifteen-year-old girl + a distraught mother = a character walking into the bowels of an old house in London, England. You know things won’t end well (do they ever…?). Let’s just say I’m glad our basement has no dark corners! Speaking of…
- AN APARTMENT in Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
You’re supposed to feel safe in your house, but Catherine Bailey is terrified in hers. Just like you want to shout at the kid not to toddle down the hallway in a horror movie, you’ll want to yell at Catherine to watch her back whenever she gets home.
- A CAR in Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
Right from page one you realize protagonist Paul is pure evil, and his plans for the best day ever are even worse. As he goes for a drive with his wife, you’ll practically beg her to get out and run without ever looking back.
- A MENTAL INSTITUTION in Burying the Honeysuckle Girls by Emily Carpenter
Not just any mental institution, but an abandoned, derelict one where bad things have happened, and worse is yet to come. Althea Bell realizes it’s where her mother was taken, very likely where she died, and that she herself might be next.
- A MILL in The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
A dark, gloomy, and defunct mill with broken windows, abandoned items belonging to a missing girl, and, potentially, a corpse…and yet, the protagonist still goes inside alone (which is exactly what we want, of course). Creepy!
- AN ISLAND in Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
How can an open space feel claustrophobic? By surrounding it with water, making it impossible for kidnapped fifteen-year-old Cassandra and her older sister Emma to escape. You may never want to get in a boat again, which nicely leads me to…
- A CRUISE SHIP in The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Is your idea of a relaxing vacation a gentle cruise? Not if Ruth Ware has anything to do with it. There’s a monster in the house—okay, on board—unless protagonist Lo Blacklock is mistaken, and it wasn’t really a body being tossed overboard. When’s the next stop, please? I’m feeling a little seasick.
- A FOREST in Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
Dark forests can be eerie places at the best of times, but what made this book utterly compelling was that the heroine, Amelia Winn, is deaf. Imagine being chased by your assailant, but you can’t see him for the dark, or hear where he is, either. Yup. Creepy!
- THE WELSH COAST in I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
The Welsh coast is spectacularly beautiful. But add in Jenna Gray, who’s desperate to escape her past, a freezing, run-down cottage, and an antagonist who wants to silence Jenna for good, and suddenly it’s not looking quite so appealing anymore!
- THE WATER in Jaws by Peter Benchley
Okay, okay, I know there are no sharks lurking under my bed (unless it’s Sharknado, in which case all bets are off). But this creepy book—this dang book—made me fear the ocean longer than I’ve feared anything else in my life. It’s been 35 years since I read it, but as far as I’m concerned, it’ll never be safe to go back in the water.
If you’re not creeped out yet, please tell me your favorite creepy settings. Because I need to know what makes you sleep with the lights on!