The Silent Patient created a fan frenzy by putting the “psychology” back into the psychological thriller. Narrated by a dubious talk therapist who becomes obsessed with his pathologically silent patient, The Silent Patient thrilled readers with its unusual premise and plot twists. Fortunately, there are more books like The Silent Patient out there for those of us who couldn’t get enough!
Our list of books similar to The Silent Patient covers all the attractive angles of the novel. We’ve included more thrillers with sharp plot twists, a few deep reads covering mental health and institutionalization, an exploration of infidelity from a fresh new perspective, and plenty of brilliant, stubborn female characters à la Alicia Berenson. If you enjoyed The Silent Patient, we’re sure you’ll find a new book to love on our list.
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11 Books Like The Silent Patient
Read Alex Michaelides’ thriller for book club and use our discussion guide for The Silent Patient to get the conversation started.
Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan
Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, Small Things Like These elevates the quiet, urgent eeriness that readers loved in The Silent Patient to new literary heights.
An everyday Irish father is unsettled when he arrives at a local convent to deliver a load of coal and finds a young girl crying in a shed. Though his neighbors gently push him to forget what he saw, the man cannot rest without learning more about the girl’s story–and trying to give her a happy ending.
Inspired by the true story of Ireland’s notorious Magdalene Laundries, Small Things Like These probes themes that should be familiar to readers of The Silent Patient, including the demonization of young women who veer from social norms and the silencing of vulnerable women by powerful institutions.
The Witch Elm, Tana French
If your imagination ran circles around Alicia Berenson’s “silence” in The Silent Patient, you may be similarly fascinated by Toby Hennessy, the narrator of The Witch Elm.
Toby’s happy-go-lucky life is violently interrupted when he walks in on a pair of burglars in his Dublin flat and suffers a brutal assault. Reeling from emotional trauma, memory loss, and a budding addiction to pain medicine, Toby flees to his family’s estate to give himself time to heal. Unfortunately, he’s taken refuge in the wrong place. The discovery of skeletal remains buried in the garden opens a murder investigation in which Toby, with his new brain injury, finds it difficult to clear his name.
Like The Silent Patient, The Witch Elm offers a plot full of twists and turns around Toby’s inconveniently silent memory. The story is also enriched by a warmer, more realistic family dynamic than readers get from The Silent Patient, which adds interest to the cast of characters.
Both Witch Elm and Small Things are set in Ireland. If you’d like more of that moody setting, check out our list of books set in Ireland.
Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
A behemoth in the psychological thriller genre, we couldn’t leave Gone Girl off our list of suggestions for fans of The Silent Patient.
Gone Girl established many of the literary devices that The Silent Patient uses to pull off its breathless plot. Both books feature male narrators with sensitive, hardworking (possibly too good to be true?) personas. Both narrators are investigating the lives of women who have “gone” or “gone silent.” Both women have left behind tantalizing diaries, with clues leading up to explosive reveals.
If you liked reading The Silent Patient and haven’t already read Gone Girl, you’re in for a wild ride! In terms of plot development, this book definitely tops the list of books similar to The Silent Patient.
Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen
As a fan of psychological thrillers, you’ve signed your consent to sensationalized plots. Still, you might be pleasantly surprised by the deeper, more nuanced flavor of some non-fiction books exploring the topics that thrillers love to sensationalize.
Girl, Interrupted is the memoir of a gifted eighteen-year-old writer who was placed in a psychiatric hospital after her first encounter with a psychiatrist in 1967. For the next two years, Susanna Kaysen studied the psychiatric system, her fellow inmates, and her own psyche. When she was released, she wrote a memoir that touched millions of readers with its plain yet resonant images of the inside of a psychiatric ward.
If you’d like to hear what the real Alicia Berenson might have to say about institutionalization, Girl, Interrupted is waiting to break the silence for you.
Verity, Colleen Hoover
Like The Silent Patient, the plot of Colleen Hoover’s bestselling thriller, Verity, unfolds in the void left behind by a brilliantly artistic woman who has fallen silent after a violent crime.
Verity Crawford had the perfect life: a series of bestselling mystery novels, a doting husband, a gorgeous estate in the countryside of Vermont, and two precocious daughters. In the space of a few years, she lost everything. When mid-list author Lowen Ashleigh is hired to complete a novel for Verity (paralyzed in a room upstairs), she falls in love with the life Verity has left behind and begins to fantasize about filling Verity’s place permanently.
In keeping with The Silent Patient’s themes, Verity examines the potentially dangerous space where fantasy and reality become blurred in art. If you found yourself rooting for Alicia Berenson, despite her troubled past and muddled future, you’re bound to be drawn in by Verity Crawford as well!
Read it for book club and use our Verity discussion guide. And if you want more dark psychological thrillers, we’ve also got a list of books similar to Verity.
An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
Extramarital affairs set off vicious plot twists in The Silent Patient, but they are only examined from the perspective of the betrayed partner. An American Marriage brings more soul to the subject of infidelity by giving voice to the “unfaithful” partners.
Celestial and Roy have been married for less than a year when Roy, a Black man in a southern town beleaguered by systemic racism, is found guilty of a murder he didn’t commit. With Roy serving a twelve-year prison sentence, Celestial struggles to find meaning and joy in a life she didn’t choose for herself. She is comforted by a childhood friend, Andre, but when Roy is released from prison unexpectedly, Celestial no longer knows where her loyalty lies.
In addition to expanding on The Silent Patient ’s treatment of infidelity, An American Marriage is also a chance for you to diversify your reading list with a story about strong Black characters written by a Black author.
Read it for book club and use our American Marriage book club guide.
The Wife Between Us, Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks
If The Silent Patient ’s ethically-dubious therapist, Theo Faber, gave you chills with his tendency to obsess over and stalk his patients, The Wife Between Us is ready to pick up where The Silent Patient left off.
Vanessa Thompson is a recent divorcee trying to make ends meet on her own in New York City. Between shifts at the clothing store where she works, Vanessa obsesses over her ex-husband’s fiancée, the beautiful, innocent, and shy Nellie. Just when Vanessa makes up her mind to intervene and stop the marriage, she has a revelation that makes everything more complicated–and dangerous.
Another darling of the psychological thriller genre, The Wife Between Us is about as close a match to The Silent Patient as you can hope to find. If you enjoy one, you’ll enjoy the other.
The Secret History, Donna Tartt
Alex Michaelides adds a special layer of allure to both his thrillers, The Silent Patient and The Maidens, by incorporating tragic Greek myths into his characters’ psyches. Donna Tartt uses this same trick in her highly atmospheric murder-mystery The Secret History.
Coming from a run-of-the-mill town in California, Richard Papen is enamored by his new college in rural Vermont. He quickly picks out the most elite (and eccentric) bunch of students at Hampden and worms his way into their exclusive courses in Greek mythology. But Richard’s desire to fit in with his brilliant peers entangles him in a web of secrets far more dangerous than he could have predicted.
With it’s rich, dark atmosphere, you might find yourself imagining a young Alicia Berenson as a student hidden just off the page in the halls of Hampden College. She could fit into The Secret History as well as The Silent Patient.
Room, Emma Donoghue
If Alicia Berenson’s institutionalization gave you flashes of claustrophobia, Room takes the experience to a whole new level.
To five-year-old Jack, the whole world is contained in one Room. Jack shares Room with his mother, a devoted caretaker whose love for Jack almost masks her despair at being confined to one Room. As Jack grows older and increasingly sensitive to his mother’s desperation, the time for the two of them to escape Room–or die trying–closes in on them.
Like The Silent Patient, Room manages to build a world of emotion inside extremely confined characters. Room offers a brighter look at the bond between parents and their children than The Silent Patient, so you might find it more uplifting, though equally thrilling.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larson
Steig Larson gave the literary world a shock when he conjured up Lisbeth Salander, the titular character in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, just as Alex Michaelides later gripped our attention with Alicia Berenson in The Silent Patient. Like Alicia, Lisbeth is a brilliant and misunderstood woman, largely because of her tight-lipped response to trauma.
But while The Silent Patient only offers us a glimpse into the power of an intelligent and passionate woman like Alicia, Lisbeth Salander allows that power to come to full fruition. If you found yourself dissatisfied with Alicia’s resignation to her fate, you will be cheering for Lisbeth as she dares to take full control of her story and delivers darkly poetic justice to her would-be oppressors.
The Maidens, Alex Michaelides
Last but not least on our list of suggestions: here’s Michaelides’ long-awaited second novel, The Maidens. If you’ve fallen head-over-heels for the authorial voice in The Silent Patient, Alex Michaelides second book will keep the love-fest going.
Mariana Fosca is a group therapist driven by her compassion for her clients. The more vulnerable she finds a person, the more she obsesses over healing and protecting them. When a string of murders occurs in a group of secretive young women who call themselves the Maidens, Mariana becomes convinced that the Maidens’ Greek mythology professor is to blame. Proving her case and saving the Maidens may cost Mariana her credibility as a therapist or even her life.
In The Maidens, Alex Michaelides preserves many of the elements that made The Silent Patient a runaway success: exploration of the role of therapists in modern society, secretive and stubborn young women, an intellectual/artistic atmosphere, and of course, plot twists galore.
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Read More Thrillers
We have a list of books set in Iceland which is chock full of chilly thrillers and Scandi-noir. We have a book club guide for A Flicker in the Dark, which is another twisty one featuring a psychologist and some murderous intent. And our discussion guide for The Paris Apartment can help your book group discuss this seriously messed up and murder-y family.
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Authored by Mallory Miles
Mallory Miles is a biologist for the US Forest Service and an avid reader since childhood. When she’s not combing the woods for endangered salamanders and orchids, she can be found at home, reading novels or writing her own stories, which have been published in Ecotone and The Stringybark Anthology.