Books Like Sharp Objects (6 Recommendations)

Dark psychological thrillers are all about creating a suspenseful, twisted, and memorable narrative based around characters who may not always have the best intentions or positive characteristics.

Books Like Sharp Objects (6 Recommendations)

But with whom we can still sympathize in one way or another thanks to how the author portrays them, and one of the best to do it is Gillian Flynn in her classic novel Sharp Objects.

This story puts an incredibly unique twist on the typical plot of a squeaky-clean detective looking into a murder mystery or a disappearance.

Instead, we follow Camille Preaker, a reporter fresh out of the psych hospital who has a torn family she barely speaks to, a devastating past that haunts her to the core, and above all of this.

An unsolved mystery of two girls who are either murdered or missing that she has been assigned to look into. 

Sharp Objects (Sharp Objects: A Novel)

With so many murder-mystery psychological thriller books on the market these days, Gillian Flynn manages to be one of the authors in this genre that stands out most for her dark and grounded approach that makes her stories so intriguing and also relatable. 

The good news is that there are several writers similar to Flynn who also put their own unique take on this popular genre that have written some must-read books if you enjoyed Sharp Objects, including the likes of Amy Engel and Claire Douglas. 

Themes In Sharp Objects

Themes In Sharp Objects


Rather than being the bright and shining detective who is dedicated to nothing else but their mission, Camille Preaker is instead written to be a confident and brave.

But also fragile and scarred woman who starts to become more engaged in the story of the two girls she is searching for as she begins to feel some sense of relatability with them as the story goes on.

Camille is dogged by her own demons from her past which makes her feel all the more sympathetic towards the two girls she’s tracing, especially because her own sister died when Camille was only thirteen, something that has caused her immense amounts of grief and trauma which are very prominent themes within this story. 


Not only does Camille come to realize that she must overcome her own trauma and take mature decisions to ease the pain that has haunted her for so long, but the story also focuses on the idea of children growing older and realizing that their parents may not be as caring and innocent as they once thought,

Making for a dark and suspenseful story with themes of individuality and growing up weaved into the wider narrative. 


One of the main themes that drives a lot of the plot forward in Sharp Objects is parenthood, especially the darker side of it and the effect it can have on children.

This is primarily shown through Adora, Camille and Amma’s mother, a character who we learn more about as the story goes on and about how spiteful and harsh she acted towards her daughters.

While she is undoubtedly made out to be an unlikeable character, Gillian Flynn still gives us an insight into the mind of people who act this way, not to sympathize with them, but to give the readers a little more clarity on why exactly they might act the way they do. 

Books Like Sharp Objects

Unraveling Oliver By Liz Nugent

Unraveling Oliver: A Novel

Gillian Flynn excels at diving deep into the mind of characters in Sharp Objects, whether it’s someone with a troubled past that we should root for, or a character we are led to dislike with twisted habits and desires, and if this is a part of Flynn’s writing that you enjoy reading the most.

You won’t want to miss out on Unraveling Oliver, a fascinating character study full of mystery and suspense on every page. 

When Oliver Ryan, a seemingly well-mannered, charming, and successful writer of children’s books suddenly attacks his wife and puts her in a coma after an evening dinner, we follow the couple’s neighbors.

Friends and close acquaintances who try to understand why Oliver, a man they believed to have no ill intent for anyone, would commit such a devastating and heinous act to the person he claims to love the most. 


  • Deep and detailed character study 
  • Oliver is written to be an incredibly complex and intriguing character to read about
  • Many subplots keep the story from ever getting stale 


  • Many inner monologues can become tiresome after a while 

Themes: Envy, obsession, love, vulnerability 

The Roanoke Girls By Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel

“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die”, these are the words of fifteen-year-old Lana Roanoke who may live a very privileged life in her family’s estate.

However, she soon comes to realize that all the Roanoke girls face the same fate at one point or another due to the darkness that has surrounded the family name for generations, and it’s up to Lana to decide if she wants to accept that same fate and become just like all the girls before her, or if she will decide to break the cycle in this heart-pounding novel by Amy Engel. 

The Roanoke Girls is a story centered around maturity and coming to terms with who you are, with the story following Lana as she is caught in a thrilling psychological war between her family reputation.

And her own identity, sharing many of the same themes of overcoming past trauma and experiences that are so prevalent in Sharp Objects. 

Gillian Flynn also takes a very detailed and honest look into privilege, and more specifically, how thrusting a child into a privileged position can mold their mind into thinking a certain way, adding even more interesting themes in this already incredibly engaging story. 


  • Mystery never becomes predictable and keeps you guessing until the last few pages 
  • The Roanoke family are very well written and all given a good amount of focus in the book
  • Very honest look into maturity and breaking away from family tradition and expectations 
  • Lana gets plenty of character development 


  • Story could have benefited from a few extra subplots 

Themes: Privilege, expectations, tradition, envy 

The Girls Who Disappeared By Claire Douglas

The Girls Who Disappeared: A Novel

While a lot of thriller novels will focus on the mystery of the characters who are missing or how they were killed, it takes a very talented writer to be able to keep this part of the story intriguing.

While still also adding some mystery onto the detective or the reporter themselves, and while this is a writing style Gillian Flynn excels in, Claire Douglas is another author who writes these types of back-and-forth stories just as well, especially in The Girls Who Disappeared.

When reputable and well-known journalist Jenna Halliday looks into the mysterious disappearance of four girls that occurred twenty years ago in a small rural town in Wiltshire, she quickly starts receiving threatening notes from the locals, warning her to stay away. 

While the overarching mystery is undoubtedly the focus of this gripping and dark tale, the sub-plot surrounding why the locals have such a strong disdain for Jenna, and Jenna’s mysterious backstory are just as interesting in this story that shares a similar writing style to Gillian Flynn’s in Sharp Objects. 


  • Perfectly balances an intriguing mystery with a fascinating character study 
  • Pacing from beginning to end never feels rushed 
  • Good world building around the Wilshire town setting and especially the mysterious Devil’s Corridor 


  • Lack of interesting side characters 

Themes: Regret, trust, companionship, hope, faith


Gillian Flynn may be most well known for writing the immensely popular Gone Girl, but she has also written a few other novels with plots that are just as mysterious and compelling.

Along with characters who manage to be twisted and obsessive while still earning some amount of sympathy from the readers because of how expertly they are written and developed. 

If you’re looking to expand your reading list and are hoping to get stuck into books that share similar themes and a comparable writing style to Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, especially in how she portrays her characters in that story, you’re going to love these suggestions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Any Of Gillian Flynn’s Books Feature Paranormal Elements?

In Gillian Flynn’s four fictional mystery books, she tends to remain a lot more grounded rather than delving into anything that could be considered paranormal.

The closest Flynn comes to including elements of the paranormal in her books is religious cults such as in Dark Places.

Has Gillian Flynn Written Any Non-Fiction?

While she is most well known for her works of fiction, Gillian Flynn has also written a few non-fiction short stories which tend to be a lot more lighthearted and centered around her own life and experiences outside of writing. 

One of her most popular non-fiction short stories, I Was Not a Nice Little Girl, goes into detail on how Gillian would spend her summers as a young girl.

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Noah Burton