Gateway to Thriller/Horror // Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme that was created by Lainey @ gingerreadslainey but is now being hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes. For more information on how to participate go check out the Goodreads group!

This Week’s Theme: Gateway Books to Your Favorite Genre

Since Halloween is coming up and I love horror more than you probably should I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about some books that are a good place to start if you want to get into the genre!

I know there a lot more renowned and well known horror/thrillers out there but I decided to keep this list full of quick and easy reads. I know some people can’t handle horror and I wanted to show that it’s not all scary and meaningless gore.

Also, in case you missed it: I’m hosting a Halloween Read-A-Thon so if you need recs… I got you covered #DatPromo 😏


Covers = Goodreads

anna-dressed-in-blood-by-kendare-blakeAnna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Yet she spares Cas’s life.

This is one of my favourite books EVER. It’s a great first horror read because whilst there is potentially scary stuff there’s also an amazing focus on a friendship group. It’s seriously so wonderful. A lot of the times in thrillers/horrors characters aren’t as developed, but Cas, Thomas & Carmel are seriously #SquadGoals. Anna is such a well developed and interesting character considering she’s, y’know, a ghost. Cas has a really sarcastic sense of humour too which is fun.



The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned

Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream.
Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed.
Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . .

This book is marketed a lot as Mean Girls meet The Craft and it’s actually 100% accurate. If you loved those films then I’m almost certain you’ll love this. There are quite a few disturbing scenes in this one, but there’s also some humour. Saying this is a ‘fun read’ might sound weird, but it really is a fun, quick, read. Perfect to read at night for a certain challenge in a certain readathon 😏.


say-her-name-by-james-dawsonSay Her Name by Juno Dawson

Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before…

Another one of my favourites. I’ve always loved the Bloody Mary urban legend and this is such a great take on it. There’s a creepy boarding school and pop culture references. You may not want to use your bathroom for a while after reading it, but that’s what makes it fun. There’s also a great female friendship between Bobbie and Naya. What more could you want?  Juno Dawson is also a transwoman. So you’ll be supporting diverse authors as well! If you’ve seen the Bloody Mary episode of Supernatural this is a lot like that!!


night-film-by-marisha-pessl1Night Film by Marisha Pessl

Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an enigma. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.

For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.

The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lose his grip on reality.


I read Night Film this year and I fell in love. It is such an interesting and clever book. It’s really psychological and genre bending. The book is also mixed media and shows you case files ect. so it feels like you’re trying to solve it. Stanislas Cordova seems so real you’ll probably end up Googling him to make sure he isn’t (…yeah, I did that). Like Anna Dressed in Blood one of the main things that made me fall in love with this book (and actually made me cry) was the friendship between the three main characters. Once again, they’re #SquadGoals. This was not your typical detective story and I can’t recommend it enough.


Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz.pngWelcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.

This is pretty much a teen slasher in book form and I LOVE IT. There’s multi-POVs and all the characters are interesting and have their own unique voice. Plus, it’s about a fake horror franchise AND IS SET IN AN ABANDONED THEME PARK. It’s another quick, fun and easy read. Perfect for your first horror/thriller!

Have you read any of these or are they on your TBR?

Leave a link to your T5W and I’ll be sure to drop by!

I hope you’re all having a fantastic day xx

P.S. I just realised these are all written by female authors. Hell yeah. 💅🏻

41 thoughts on “Gateway to Thriller/Horror // Top 5 Wednesday

  1. When you have your own place so you’re too scared to read half of these books but you want to so badly! Say Her Name sounds soooo good!


  2. I haven’t read any of these but Anna Dressed In Blood have been on my TBR since forever. I have both books collecting dust on my shelves. I need to get to them especially since it’s Fall now in NYC which means perfect time to read it.


  3. I haven’t actually read any of these myself but I do have both Anna Dressed in Blood on my to-read list, and have ever since I read Kendare Blake’s Goddess War series, and The Merciless, ever since I saw a review for it on another blog. Hopefully if these books are what you would call gateway’s to the thriller/horror genre than maybe when I read them I’ll be interested in picking up more! They both sound amazing and I’m sure the rest of your picks for this week are just as amazing! 😀


  4. I came here for horror recommendations since I don’t really read the genre and I’m leaving here a little paranoid haha. Horror is SO not my genre. I only ever watch horror movies at Halloween and that’s only because my best friend usually stays over! Great list, though. If I ever have the guts to actually attempt a horror read, I’ll try to pick something from this list 🙂


    1. 😂😂😂 Sorry!! I totally get that though. I’m such a wuss, but for some reason I have a fascination with scaring myself. If you wanted to try any of these I defs recommend Anna (or Night Film). They’re not really scary at all imo and have such a great focus on characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never read any of these books – totally not a horror fan here – but I’m intrigued by Anna Dressed in Blood, after Three Dark Crowns! TDC wasn’t amazing but I heard that Anna is better. I’m glad to hear that it’s one of your favourite books because now I really must check it out. 😉


    1. It honestly felt like TDC was written by a totally different author compared to Anna. It’s such a great book! I don’t think it’s too scary either. It’s more of a darker paranormal. There’s such a great focus on characters. I really hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it!!


  6. I’ve been looking for great thriller/horror recommendations because of October and Halloween! Anna Dressed in Blood, Night Film, and Welcome to the Dark House all sound especially interesting so I’ll definitely be adding them to my TBR. I have to admit the second I saw the cover for Say Her Name I knew it was going to be about Bloody Mary. That is the only urban legend that terrifies. I can’t even have mirrors in my room or watch horror movies about mirrors. That is my irrational fear haha. I actually covered my eyes when I read the synopsis. So, I’m not sure if I’ll be picking that one up. I’d probably never be able to sleep after reading it 😂. Either way, amazing picks! I’m so glad someone did a horror-themed Top 5. 😊


      1. I’m actually the same 😂. There are a few scary things I steer clear of, Blood Mary being one of them, but I’m always watching horror movies even though I know I’ll regret it later lol. You’re welcome! 😊


  7. I have read NONE of these books but they are all on my TBR! Hopefully I can get my hands on them soon – especially for the month of Halloween! *CHEERS* I love getting myself scared ESPECIALLY when its at night time because I love torturing myself that much 😉 Especially excited for Say Her Name!


  8. Great idea to do a gateway list! I love horror and people always tell me they aren’t into scary books, so what a cool post idea. I’ve only read Anna (loved it), but I want to read all of the others on your list. 🙂


  9. I was looking for the Kendare book in my library today, and they have a couple others, but not that one. ::hangs head in disappointment::
    I guess we can’t always get what we want…I mean, we can try sometimes…but you might be find, you get what you need…sorry, my mind just broke into song right there. It happens from time to time, lol! 😂


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