In my new novel, The Hiding Place, Joe Thorne’s eight-year-old sister returns after disappearing for forty-eight hours. But something about her isn’t the same. What happened to Annie Thorne? And why is Joe scared to death of his own little sister?
Here are my top 10 of other scary families in fiction!
Top 10 Scary Families in Fiction
- The Dollangangers (Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews)
Where to start? Incest, child abuse, rape, murder. The Dollanganger family has it all. After their father’s death, four children are forced by their mother to hide in the attic of their evil grandmother’s house in order to reclaim the family fortune. But days turns into years, brother and sister engage in an unwholesome sibling relationship, and their mother turns out to be as poisonous as granny.
- The Torrances (The Shining by Stephen King)
Dad is a recovering alcoholic having a breakdown/being possessed by the spirits of The Overlook Hotel where he is working as caretaker over the winter. His son, Danny, has an imaginary friend and possesses a psychic power called The Shining. Jack becomes convinced by the former (dead) caretaker of the Overlook that he must discipline (kill) his wife and son. It all ends up getting very heated: proof, if proof were needed, that spending too much time with your family is a very bad thing.
- The Bateses (Psycho by Robert Bloch)
Norman Bates is a shy, middle-aged bachelor dominated by his mean-tempered, puritanical mother who forbids him to have a life outside of her. They run a small motel together. However, Mother is so jealous of anyone Norman shows affection for that she’s been killing off the female guests. Or has she? Turns out Mother is actually a mummified corpse in the fruit cellar, and Norman has been dressing up as her to commit the murders. Rated “excellent” by Trip Advisor.
- The Whites (Carrie by Stephen King)
Shy, retiring teen Carrie White is cruelly bullied at school and abused by her tyrannically religious mother, Margaret, who rants about menstruation being the result of sinful thoughts and locks her daughter in a special “prayer closet” to pray for forgiveness. But Carrie has telekinetic powers that she soon uses to wreak her revenge on her tormentors. It’s the usual massacre-at-the-prom, mother-tries-to-kill-daughter, daughter-crucifies-mother story.
- The Cauldhames (The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks)
Meet the Cauldhames. Sixteen-year-old Francis killed three of his relatives: two cousins and his younger brother. He is haunted by a dog attack in his youth, which resulted in the loss of his genitalia. His hobbies include torturing animals. Frank’s older brother, Eric, has just escaped from a mental institution, having been arrested for setting fire to the town’s dogs and terrorizing local children by force-feeding them maggots and worms. Dad keeps the remains of his son’s genitals in a jar in his study. And you think your family is weird.
- The Blackwoods (We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson)
Eighteen-year-old Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her older sister, Constance, and eccentric, wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian. The rest of their family isn’t too dysfunctional because they’re dead, poisoned one night by a fatal dose of arsenic in the sugar bowl. But who spiked the sugar bowl? These are two sisters you really don’t want to invite around for tea.
- The Khatchadourians (We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver)
Eva never wanted to be a mother, which is never a great start. But was it her dislike of her own son that drove him to murder nine people at school before his sixteenth birthday? Eva attempts to come to terms with what happened in a series of correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Was Kevin “born bad” or formed through lack of love? Ultimately, you may wonder who is scarier: mother or her mass-murdering, patricidal son.
- The Woodhouses (Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin)
A young wife comes to believe that her offspring is the spawn of the devil. Turns out she’s right. Her struggling actor husband, Guy, sold his wife to Satan in return for acting success, and their odd neighbors in their new apartment block, Roman and Minnie Castevet, are actually part of a coven of Satan worshippers intent on resurrecting the devil. With a husband from hell and a newborn, quite literally, from hell, you might want to give this baby shower a miss.
- The Jensens (Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage)
On the outside, it looks like Suzette has it all. Lovely home, handsome Swedish husband, and a beautiful but silent seven-year-old daughter who is fiercely intelligent. Oh, and a total psycho. Hanna adores her father but wants Mummy out of the way. She tampers with her mother’s daily medication, imitates a rabid dog, sets Suzette on fire. Does she really want to kill her own mother? And does her mother want to save or kill her disturbed child? Makes your seven-year-old’s tantrums look like a breeze.
- The Preakers (Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn)
Camille Preaker works as a journalist at a small newspaper. She also has a history of self-harm. The murder of two girls takes her back to her hometown where she reconnects with her estranged mother, Adora, and half-sister, Amma. Amma is right little madam who behaves like a young child in front of her mother to hide her drinking, drug use, and promiscuity. Mummy is a manipulative head case. But is either a murderer? It’s fair to say that you’d probably rather have teeth pulled than spend quality time with this mother and daughter.
C. J. TUDOR is the author of The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place, and lives in England with her partner and daughter. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. Her second novel The Hiding Place publishes in the US on February 5, 2019.