You may be craving more books like Rebecca after Netflix’s announcement of a revival of Daphne du Maurier’s acclaimed novel. To be expected since the 1938 novel that introduced us to the dashing Maxim, his jittery narrator, the sinister Mrs. Danvers and (of course) the ghost of Maxim’s first wife Rebecca is a classic!
For some reason, du Maurier’s novels like Rebecca have a lot of unsold copies, which may be due to the fact that they cover so many different genres that the story can be enjoyed by a wide range of people.
A Victorian classic, it’s a must-read for anyone who enjoys a tangled web of relationships, revenge, death, and a struggle for social hierarchy, but it’s also popular with fans of psychological thrillers because of Mrs. Danvers’ gaslighting of poor Mrs. de Winter the second, and then there’s the seemingly mysterious death of Rebecca.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of books similar to Rebecca that includes both classic and contemporary works.
Books like Rebecca
My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier
First up on my list of books like Rebecca is Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel, a lesser-known but no less sinister novel.
On another Cornish estate, young orphan Philip Ashley lives happily with his kind elder cousin, the unwavering and single Ambrose. While both cousins are happy with the arrangement, Ambrose goes on a trip to Florence and unexpectedly falls in love and gets married, before tragically dying there.
Nothing prepared Philip for the arrival of the mysterious and hauntingly beautiful Rachel, the widow of his cousin Ambrose, who he believes may have been involved in Ambrose’s death.
My Cousin Rachel has an air of an old-style mystery, but the simplicity of Rebecca’s plot makes it a bewitching pleasure to read.
The Binding, by Bridget Collins
The Binding, by Bridget Collins, is the first contemporary novel on this list of books that resemble Rebecca in terms of plot. Taking place in a parallel universe not unlike nineteenth-century England,
Books and the words and memories they contain can be lethal in a world populated by Collins’s vision. People seek out book binders in order to rid themselves of their most agonizing, traumatic, and shame-inducing memories. Once these memories are penned down and bound into books, they are effectively erased.
Following an unusual mental episode, Emmett is sent to work as an apprentice at a book binders. While there, he becomes infatuated with the magic involved in ridding these people of their weighty secrets, the forbidden room where all their stories are stored, and the strangely familiar gentleman, Lucien Darnay.
Intriguing narrative that will leave you gasping at the twists and turns of the plot. All of us need an escape right now, (if only we could bind, shelf, and forget about the year 2020!)
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
Emily Bront’s outstanding Wuthering Heights, the pinnacle of Victorian literature, is the next must-read on this list. With the exception of a few servants and tortured, estranged relatives, Heathcliff now lives in the Wuthering Heights estate as an old man.
A piecemeal account of Heathcliff’s life slowly reveals the events that shaped him into the bitter antihero we know and love today: his poverty-plagued childhood, his rise to wealth and the obsessive feelings he harbors for his adoptive sister Catherine that were once shunned led to his doing the unspeakable.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is a great choice for fans of Rebecca and other dark, obsessive novels because of its gothic setting, creepy characters, and intricate plot. Heathcliff’s lust for revenge and the specter of Catherine, who haunts the estate, are particular draws.
Have you read and enjoyed this well-known work of Gothic literature? Other books like Wuthering Heights can be found on our recommended reading list.
The Confession, by Jessie Burton
The Confession, the third book from bestselling author Jessie Burton, is a powerful read sure to enchant fans of novels like Rebecca. It features another juicy narrative steeped in mystery, forbidden secrets, and ghosts.
Elise Morceau, a naive young woman, meets Constance Holden, a successful author, on Hampstead Heath in the 1980s. It was only a matter of time before Connie’s spell on Elise was broken when she impulsively left their new life in New York, disappearing without a trace…
Time travels back three decades, and a young woman named Rose Simmonds discovers that a reclusive writer named Constance Holden was the last person to see her mother, and she sets out to uncover the truth and elicit a confession from her.
One of the best novels of the year, The Confession is an eloquently written story that captures the essence of storytelling.
The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
When Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White was published, it was widely considered to be an influential Victorian novel that incorporated both psychological realism and Gothic horror.
Walter Hartright recalls an eerie encounter with a woman dressed in white, who was supposedly a patient who had escaped from a mental asylum and was being chased by the police in London. When he accepts a position as a drawing instructor at Limmeridge House, he is introduced to the Fairlie family, which includes Frederick Fairlie, his niece Laura Fairlie, and Marian Halcombe, Laura’s older half-sister.
We gradually learn more about who the woman in white is and how far people will go to keep secrets, even if it means murdering those they claim to love. For those who enjoyed Rebecca’s explorations of paranoia, identity, and insanity, The Woman in White is an excellent choice for your next read.
Wakenhyrst, by Michelle Paver
If you enjoyed Rebecca’s atmospheric gothic, the fuzziness of what is real and what isn’t, and the peek into the mind of the protagonist, you’ll enjoy Michelle Paver’s chilling novel Wakenhyrst.
Despite the fact that Edmund Stearn appears to be an upstanding member of Wakenhyrst, he is a tyrannical disciplinarian who bullies his family behind the doors of Wake’s End, his large manor house, where his family lives.
A doom painting, an ominous depiction of hell, is found by Edmund in the undergrowth of a churchyard, and he realizes that the eye he found is part of it. No matter how much he tries to leave the painting in its original location, Edmund can’t seem to get his thoughts away from the doom that awaits him, and we watch as he slowly descends into madness.
Enjoy Wakenhyrst, a fantastic novel that will keep you on your toes and leave you with paper cuts and cold coffee.
The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw is the next classic novel like Rebecca that takes a more spooky turn.
The young governess in James’ 1898 novella tells the story of two strange and distant orphans named Miles and Flora, whom she cares for on her first job at a rather forlorn-looking estate. Even though Miles was expelled from boarding school and a mysterious phantom-like figure keeps reappearing, both children are captivating in their beauty and oddly silent about it.
It soon becomes apparent that the governess’ best efforts to protect the children from these half-seen figures are futile, as the children are just as enthralled by them as the half-seen figures are.
The Turn of the Screw was originally serialized in Colliers Weekly Magazine, which I think is a good idea because of the level of scariness.
The Lost Ones, by Anita Frank
The Lost Ones, the unsettling debut novel from Anita Frank, takes us back to 1917 England. It’s a startlingly brilliant read.
When Stella Marcham’s fiancé dies, she goes to stay with her pregnant sister Madeleine at Greyswick, a stunning country mansion, in search of solace and comfort. However, she discovers an atmosphere of unease and a sister full of paranoia and trepidation there instead.
Stella is also disturbed by strange noises in the night that sound like crying and footsteps on the stairs, so much so that she becomes obsessed with the house’s tragic past and dark secrets, even if these secrets are revealed as whispers from the dead…
Henry James fans will enjoy The Lost Ones as well as those searching for more books like Rebecca.
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is a classic murder mystery that I’ve included in my list of books that are similar to Rebecca.
It’s time for another Hercule Poirot adventure, this time aboard the Orient Express, which is making its maiden voyage from Cairo to London with an unusual mix of passengers. While traveling late one night, a huge snowdrift causes the train to be delayed while plans are made to clear the tracks. The next morning, most passengers have no recollection of the previous night’s problems, but one passenger remains asleep.
With his cabin door locked from inside, Poirot is called upon to solve the mystery, identify the murderer, and put a stop to any potential killing spree that Ratchett may have been involved in.
Murder on the Orient Express is still a classic today, despite the fact that it has been remade in a variety of media.
Are you a fan of Agatha Christie’s work? Visit our And Then There Were None-like book list!
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
As a result of the couple’s toxic relationship and the question, “How well do you really know your spouse?” Gone Girl has the potential to give readers a glimpse into Rebecca’s perspective.
Amy and Nick Dunne are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary together, but Amy mysteriously vanishes, making Nick appear guilty and suspicious. Nick was not involved in his wife’s disappearance, despite the fact that he harbored secrets of his own, daydreamed inappropriately, and evaded police questioning.
So, who did it?
In an utterly suspenseful novel with a shocking twist, we learn who the calculating, scheming psychopath is in alternating perspectives from Amy and Nick. “Gone Girl” is no exception to books like Rebecca that keep you guessing (and fraying your nerves)!