9 Books With Unreliable Narrators To Read Now

Have you ever read a book and started to question the narrator’s credibility? Their perspective can shift one way to another throughout the text so you’re never quite sure how to interpret events.

9 Books To Read Now With Unreliable Narrators

This may sound confusing because it often is! But, it also keeps you, as the reader, on your toes throughout, not knowing what is going to happen next. Here at RTBook Review, I love these types of stories.

Unreliable narrators can add layers of complexity to a story, leaving the reader trying to determine what is true and what is not.

I decided to pick my favorite books with unreliable narrators for you to read and enjoy. Before I get down to the duplicitous nature of the book’s narrators, let’s find out exactly what an unreliable narrator is.

What Is An Unreliable Narrator?

An unreliable narrator is a narrator in a story whose credibility is questionable. This means that the reader cannot always trust the narrator’s perspective or interpretation of events.

This type of narrator often has limited or biased perspectives, and their recollections or interpretations of events may be flawed, deliberately misleading, or inaccurate. Sometimes, the reader never finds out which it is.

An unreliable narrator can add an intriguing layer of complexity to a story, as the reader must determine whether the narrator is telling the truth or not. It is up to the reader to piece together the events of the story based on their own interpretation.

This creates a heightened level of suspense and intrigue and can challenge the reader’s perceptions and understanding of the events and characters in the story. Have you ever read a book, invested days in its text, only to want to scream when you finish it?

More often than not, it’s because the narrator has been unreliable throughout, and even after you have read it, you’re not sure what happened and if you could trust them all along.

Just as you think you know what is going to happen next, your perception is twisted by the narrator and it’s back to the drawing board to rethink everything.

Generally speaking, unreliable narrators are most common in thrillers, but they do appear in other genres. So, let’s delve into the frenzied world of unreliable narrators with our favorite examples below.

Books With Unreliable Narrators

Gone Girl

Gone Girl

Written by esteemed author Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl immerses us in a marriage that has regressed from rocky to disastrous. The wife, Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary but her seemingly perfect husband becomes the number one suspect.

Of course, like any good mystery, the couple are not who they seem to be and we are led down a path of twists and turns, not knowing what to expect, let alone what will actually happen.

Because the story is told from the perspectives of two characters, the husband Nick Dunne, and the missing wife, Amy Dunne, it becomes clear that both narrators are unreliable as the events of the story unfold.

Both perspectives are flawed and biased. This creates a sense of tension and suspense keeping you on the edge.


  • Suspense and tension throughout
  • Never sure of what will happen next
  • Many twists and turns with both narrators


  • Both narrators seem unsympathetic which can be difficult to connect with as a reader

Dear Child

Dear Child: A Novel

Written by award-winning German author Romy Hausmann, this is a creepy psychological thriller that builds throughout before culminating in an astonishing thrilling ending.

We follow the story of Lena and her two kids who are locked in a windowless shack in the woods by her “husband.” The stuff of nightmares and, of course, horror movies.

Dear Child is told from the perspective of Lena, a young woman who is writing letters to her daughter about the events leading up to her birth.

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Lena is an unreliable narrator and her perspective is biased and flawed. Lena finally escapes but this does not mean her nightmare is over.

From Lena’s perspective, things just don’t add up and we find out that Lena herself is not who she claims to be.

Lena’s letters to her daughter are filled with lies and half-truths, and she deliberately withholds information and manipulates the truth to present herself in a favorable light.

Her descriptions of events and the people in her life are often distorted and unreliable, and the reader is left to question the validity of her recollections and interpretations of events.


  • Very engaging throughout
  • Complex, multi-layered characters
  • Many themes are explored, including family, motherhood, secrets, and lies


  •  Some of the themes are very dark, such as trauma and violence

The House In The Pines

The House in the Pines: A Novel

If you love an unreliable narrator, this is a must-read. Written by acclaimed author Ana Reyes, this story follows Maya who is moving away to college in a few days but her best friend, Aubrey, suddenly and mysteriously drops dead in front of her.

Reading from Maya’s perspective, we find that she blames an older man named Frank, even though there is no evidence to prove he has anything to do with Aubrey’s death.

Aubrey’s death leaves a mark on Maya as she is overcoming addiction to prescribed medication to help her deal with the death of her friend. Maya then sees a video of a woman dropping dead in a café with Frank sitting beside her.

This leads Maya into another spiral, trying to prove Frank is responsible. Maya is a very likable character but a truly unreliable narrator.

As the reader, you feel you can not trust her instincts, especially after learning of her addiction issues. But, you want to believe her, no matter how flawed her perspective is at times.


  • Very likable character
  • Mysteries around every corner to keep you on the edge of your seat
  • Purely eerie and atmospheric


  • Bounces back and forth between the present and the past which can be confusing

We Were Liars

We Were Liars

I can’t go into too much detail with the plot of this book as I could easily spoil it for you. But, vaguely speaking, the book follows a family as they vacation on a private island, something they do every summer.

A group of friends named the “Liars”, spend the summer together whilst their parents go through their own private drama. But, we pick up the story after a tragic incident that occurred the summer before.

The protagonist, Cadence, a privileged teenager, slowly begins to regain her memory, and fragments of what happened last summer start to become clearer.

But, as the reader, you have to try and figure out a lot of it yourself through her unreliable narration. But, this is something very fun to experience.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Cadence is an unreliable narrator, and her perspective is distorted by her memory loss and the influence of her powerful and dysfunctional family.

Her recollections of events and the people in her life are often flawed, and the reader is left to question the validity of her interpretations of the events she describes.


  • Layers of mystery and tension throughout
  • An unpredictable storyline that is hard to put down
  • Multidimensional, interesting characters


  • The ending is too open-ended for many readers

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient

Written by bestselling British Cypriot author Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient is about Alicia Berenson, a famous painter who shoots her husband five times, murdering him, and then mysteriously not uttering a word ever again.

Step in Theo Faber, a criminal physiotherapist who aims to get to the bottom of this death through this silent patient. However, he has to do this whilst his personal life is crumbling around him.

The story is told from the perspectives of several characters, including the titular silent patient, Alicia Berenson. Alicia’s silence and the mystery surrounding the events that led to her husband’s death make her an unreliable narrator.

As the story unfolds, the reader is left to question her motivations and her version of events, adding a layer of suspense and intrigue to the story.

The shifting perspectives and the uncertainty surrounding Alicia’s version of events keep the reader engaged and add to the sense of mystery that pervades the story.


  • A compelling story that you won’t want to put down
  • Went viral on social media
  • Full of twists and turns that you won’t see coming


  • Some readers thought that the women characters weren’t written well

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

Agatha Christie knew how to write a classic mystery novel, and this book is a perfect example with twists and turns and an unreliable narrator.

The fun of And Then There Were None lies in trying to find out “whodunit” as suspects of murder start to die, one by one, in a mansion on a secluded island.

As soon as you think you have figured out the mystery, something else happens and you are left utterly perplexed once again. This is mainly down to the unreliable narration.

Although a short story, it is told from the first-person perspective of several characters, each of whom serves as an unreliable narrator at different points in the novel.

Their credibility is questionable, meaning that the reader cannot fully trust the information being provided. Each character seems to be hiding something or has a limited perspective on the events they are describing, leaving you with more questions than answers.


  • A classic from one of the best mystery novelists ever
  • Keeps you guessing until the very last page
  • Well-written characters and  compelling storytelling


  • The writing might be too aged for some readers

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries)

In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, award-winning author Mark Haddon writes about an extremely logical and gifted teenager, Christopher John Francis Boone.

Christopher is on the autism spectrum and has difficulty understanding human emotions but connects with animals far more easily.

When his neighbor’s dog dies mysteriously, Christopher is determined to solve the case but takes us down a path of unexpected finds and secrets. In truth, Christopher is not an unreliable narrator like many others on our list.

But because of his struggles with emotions, we view events from his unique perspective which gives the reader a distinct interpretation of the story. Christopher’s point of view is limited by his condition, leading to misinterpretations and misunderstandings about unfolding events.

Because Christopher has difficulty understanding other people’s emotions and perspectives, it affects how he perceives and communicates with surrounding events.

Additionally, Christopher is not always aware of the full context of a situation, which results in incomplete or inaccurate information from time to time. For example, he may not understand the significance of a conversation or a piece of information that another character is sharing.

Gripping from the first page to the last, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time gives us a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with autism.


  • Provides a unique perspective on autism giving the reader a better understanding of the condition
  • Fresh and interesting perspective of events from the storyteller
  • Full of complex twists and turns to engage you as a reader


  • Some criticize the representation of autism and believe it to be an inaccurate depiction of the condition

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Elizabeth Wein creates a world of intrigue and drama in Code Name Verity. The story is based around Verity, a British spy who is captured when she crashes her plane in occupied France during the Second World War.

Verity is then questioned by the Gestapo who wants to learn more about what she knows and her mission. Verity endures torture and confesses secrets to the enemy.

As the reader, you are on edge the entire time as you wonder what secrets she will share to save her life. Are the secrets she tells actually true or is she lying to save her mission?

Told from two perspectives, Verity and an unnamed spy trying to piece together what happened after the war, both are considered unreliable. Verity writes her story as a confession in the hope that it will be used as propaganda against the British.

However, her account is also colored by her feelings of guilt and fear, which affect her interpretation of events. The second narrator, an unnamed British spy, tried to piece together Verity’s story after the war.

This narrator is also unreliable, as they are working with limited information and have their own biases and assumptions that influence their understanding of the events.

As a result of these narrations, you must interpret the events of the story with caution and question the accuracy of the information being presented. Brilliant and emotional, this is an excellent complex story to provoke many questions as you read.


  • Dual perspective
  • Unreliable narrator adds some fun to the reading experience
  • Interesting take on women after the war


  • Some of the characters aren’t as fleshed out as others

The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us: A Novel

Written by two authors, Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, The Wide Between explores the story of Nellie as she is just days away from marrying her wealthy, attentive fiancé. But, Nellie believes someone is following her.

Could this be something to do with her fiancé’s obsessive ex-wife Vanessa who wants to stop the wedding? The unreliable narration keeps you scratching your head.

You may think you know how this thriller will end but the unreliable nature of the narrators will soon deceive you. We read from the perspectives of three characters, but only two are regarded as unreliable narrators.

Vanessa, the obsessive ex, is emotionally unstable and has a distorted view of her relationship with her ex-husband whereas Nellie’s narration is also unreliable due to her secrets being kept hidden from her fiancé.

Because of her own biases and motivations, her account of events is somewhat colored. The author acts as the third narrator, providing a more objective perspective on the events of the story.

Thanks to the two unreliable narrators in The Wife Between Us, tension, and uncertainty lies behind every corner, leaving you to question the accuracy of the information being presented.


  • Three narrators to keep you on your toes as you read
  • Never know what is going to happen next, adding to the suspense
  • Well-developed and complex characters that are somewhat relatable at times


  • Familiar, clichéd plot points and themes in certain chapters

In Summary

Plot twists, unpredictable characters, and engaging storylines are just some of the reasons we love an unreliable narrator. Check out these books above and I am sure you will enjoy the ride and the shock that is waiting on every page.

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Noah Burton