19 Books With Plot Twists You Never Saw Coming

Warning: don’t read these books while standing up.

woman reading books with plot twists
  • camera-icon
  • Photo Credit: Gabriella Dickson / Unsplash

Let’s face it: stories can be predictable. We all expect the detective will solve the crime, the couple will get their happily ever after, and the hero will save the day. And while a good author will create characters who we love to read about—even when we know what will happen next—sometimes you just want the shock and awe of a final, brilliant twist.

Enter the plot twist. Most often used in thriller novels, a good plot twist won't come totally out of left field, and will make everything in the story click. A great classic example is Jane Eyre—spoiler alert, it's not a ghost in the attic!

Which book has the best plot twist?

Determining the “best” plot twist is tricky—do you prefer an unreliable narrator, a murderous mystery, or a psychological suspense novel? Whatever your cup of tea is, we bet you'll love one of the unpredictable books below.

From police procedurals that take a dark turn to young adult novels that may have you shedding a tear, these books are full of cunning plot twists.

You’ll be guessing until the very last page.

authors like liane moriarty

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s thriller reinvented the genre and became a worldwide phenomenon thanks to its now-legendary twist. But aside from that jaw-dropping reveal that inspired a million think-pieces, Gone Girl is also a tightly-wound crime novel about the perils of marriage and whether or not you can ever truly know the person to whom you say “I do.” 

Nick Dunne’s wife Amy goes missing, and immediately, the vultures of the press think he’s killed her. Through the first half of the novel, we see Nick’s inadequacies and jealousy in full form, contrasted with the meek and fearful diary entries of Amy. And then it all changes… 

And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie

If you want suspense and twists, who better to check out than the grandmother of the entire crime genre? Agatha Christie is the biggest-selling author of all-time for a reason. Her dozens of golden age mystery novels defined the form for decades to come, and her best ones have long stood the test of time. Just read And Then There Were None for proof of that. 

Ten strangers, seemingly unconnected, are summoned to a private island off the coast of Devon for a party. Their host, an eccentric millionaire unknown to all of them, is nowhere to be found. They all have secrets, and as the weekend unfolds, they will die one by one as penance. But who is the killer? And can they be stopped in time?

the other black girl beach read

The Other Black Girl

By Zakiya Dalila Harris

Nella Rogers is an editorial assistant at Wagner Books, and the only Black employee in the entire organization. She's sick of being alone amid a sea of white, where everyone is constantly making microaggressive comments about her. Then Hazel arrives and she feels like she might finally have an ally. 

But then a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left behind. Soon, notes are being left on Nella's desk, threats with an ominous message: "LEAVE WAGNER NOW."

Gold of Our Fathers

Gold of Our Fathers

By Kwei Quartey

After years of hard work, officer Darko Dawson has just been promoted to Chief Inspector in the Ghana Police Service. It's a dream come true, right up until his new boss announces that he's transferring Darko from Accra, Ghana’s capital, out to remote Obuasi in the Ashanti region, an area now notorious for the illegal exploitation of its gold mines. 

Obuasi's police headquarters are a mess, morale among his new colleagues is low, and the body of a Chinese mine owner has just been unearthed in his own gold quarry. Seeking justice for this man will be hard in a land where illegal gold mines are common and bribes are expected.

atonement sad books


By Ian McEwan

Cecilia Turner, an upper class young woman, lounges around her family's stately home on a hot summer's day in 1935. Robbie Turner, the son of a servant, has long had his eye on her, gazing from afar. After years of tension, the pair finally give into their desires. 

But Briony, Cecilia's precocious teenage sister, sees their coupling and doesn't entirely understand what's happening. Her active imagination leads her to accuse Robbie of a terrible crime, one whose repercussions will haunt her as she ages and becomes a nurse during the Second World War.

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?

By Paula Daly

Lisa Kallisto is struggling. Between running an animal shelter, raising three children, and trying to keep her marriage together, she’s just trying to stay afloat. When she lets her guard down for just a moment, the unimaginable happens: her best friend’s thirteen-year-old daughter goes missing.

Lucinda is the second teenage girl to disappear in town over the past two weeks, and Lisa is wracked with guilt over what could be her fate. Determined to bring Lucinda home, Lisa begins to dig into the disappearances. But she never could have imagined what she would discover…

The Silent Tower

The Silent Tower

By Barbara Hambly

In a world where magic exists, wizards have been sidelined and forced to live in rundown suburbs. Nobody is surprised when someone is murdered in the middle of the street. Stonne Caris, a young warrior monk who sees the killing and gives chase to the culprit, watches as the murderer disappears into an interdimensional portal. 

Who is this killer and what powers dies he wield? For answers, he goes in search of Antryg Windrose, a mage with knowledge of these mysterious passages. On the other side of them is Joanna, a computer programmer who is normal in every way, right up until she finds herself battling to save a whole other world she didn't know existed.

Before He Finds Her

Before He Finds Her

By Michael Kardos

On a Sunday evening in 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a legendary party, then murdered his wife and daughter. Well, that's how the story goes in Silver Bay, New Jersey. In truth, the daughter got away and is now living under he Witness Protection Program. 

Now known as Melanie, she has never been allowed to travel, go to a school dance, or even have internet at home. But she still managed to get pregnant and wants her child to have the life she was robbed of. Ramsey Miller is still on the run and looking for his kid. If Melanie can find him before he finds her, maybe she can reclaim what he stole from her.



By Burl Barer

Private eye and author Jeff Reynolds is used to being thrown into the middle of wild situations in Walla Walla, Washington, but this case is different. A paranoid recluse has lured him in with a unique case. He wants Reynolds to find out whether or not his father was murdered. 

Several popular mystery writers, including G.M. Ford and Tony Fennelly, make cameo appearances in Reynolds' world as he explores the Washington underworld to uncover the tricky truth of this deceptive case.



By Hilary Norman

Liza Plain is a Boston-based journalist spending Christmas in Shiloh, Rhode Island, with her difficult grandfather. Her career's in a rut and life has ground to a halt. When a retired local priest goes missing, she thinks this could be a big story, one she could relaunch her career with. His disappearance seems to be linked to a series of unsolved missing persons cases involving churches. 

Aiding her is Michael Rider, a man with a dark past who has started receiving strange emails from an organization calling itself Whirlwind, offering him the chance to avenge himself on those who've done him wrong. When a wild blizzard seals Shiloh off from the rest of the world, they must uncover the truth and do it quickly, lest they be the next victims.

The Creeper

The Creeper

By Tania Carver

Suzanne Perry is being watched. When she wakes from a nightmare that someone is in her bedroom, watching her, touching her, she is relieved to put the disturbance behind her. But after she discovers a Polaroid on her window with an image of her sleeping and a haunting message, she knows her nightmare is only just beginning.

Phil Brennan has a serial killer to hunt. One who’s stalking women, entangling himself into their lives. But as Phil closes in on the monster, he may find that the hunt is eerily close to home…

Loaded with twist after shocking twist, you’ll never expect this police procedural’s final act.



By Kevin O'Brien

On Willow Tree Court, things are picture-perfect. But behind these modern, inviting homes lie dark secrets and disturbing scandals. And they are about to catch up with their residents.

When Molly Dennehy moves onto the street, she knows her neighbors favor her husband’s ex-wife. But after the psychopathic Cul-De-Sac Killer begins murdering families in homes just like her own, and in her stepson’s school, she’s faced with bigger worries.

From New York Times bestselling author Kevin O’Brien comes this novel of intricate plot twists and turns, and a stunning conclusion you’ll never see coming.

books with plot twists dangerous girls abigail haas

Dangerous Girls (I'll Never Tell)

By Abigail Haas

Spring break. Senior year. Anna, her boyfriend, and her best friend Elise are off to Aruba for the vacation of their dreams. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, this idyllic island sours.

Stuck in a country not her own and fighting to convince her friends, her family, and a judge of her innocence, Anna is on the verge of discovering just how far some loyalties can go. As she awaits her sentencing, it becomes clear that people don’t just think Anna is guilty—they think she’s dangerous.

And when the truth finally comes roaring out, you’ll never expect this YA beach read’s final moments.

we were liars

We Were Liars

By E. Lockhart

On a private island off Martha’s Vineyard, darkness simmers under Cadence Sinclair and her family’s wealth and luxury.

Cadence and her cousins—”The Liars”—spend every summer together. But after suffering a head injury one summer, Cadence loses most of her memories of their times together.

When Cadence returns to find out what happened to her, and why her family changed so dramatically, the answers will have your jaw on the floor.

One of YA’s best-kept plot twists, this novel is perfect for any fan of the brilliant, the eerie, and an ending full of both heart and horror.

books with plot twists give me your hand by megan abbott

Give Me Your Hand

By Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott is at her best in this chilling, twisty novel of female friendships and competition.

Best friends for a stint in high school, Kit Owens and Diane Fleming were ripped apart after Diane revealed a terrifying secret. When the two cross paths again a decade later, vying for the same competitive research position, their past threatens to come spilling out.

And when a crime is committed, both women’s lives are on the brink of destruction. You’ll be asking just how this book ends until the very last page.

books with plot twists the silent patient

The Silent Patient

By Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson’s life is perfect. A famous painter married to a highly sought-after fashion photographer, her home, her work, and her life is lavish and beautiful. Until one night, Alicia’s husband comes home and she shoots him in the face five times. And never speaks another word again.

Her refusal to talk skyrockets her to a new kind of fame. When criminal psychotherapist Theo Faber begins meeting with Alicia, he is determined to get her talking. But once he begins unraveling her secrets, and her crimes, they’ll take him down a path he never saw coming…

suspenseful books

In a Dark, Dark Wood

By Ruth Ware

Nora hasn’t seen Clare since the day she walked out of school, never to return.

Now, ten years later, Nora receives an invitation to Clare’s hen do—her bachelorette party. Hoping the two can finally put the past behind them, Nora attends. But something goes terribly, terribly wrong.

And some secrets are finally about to be revealed.



By Sarah Waters

Left in the care of Mrs. Sucksby as an orphaned infant, Sue Trinder was raised in a home of petty thieves. And when Gentleman, an elegant con man, arrives with an offer Sue cannot refuse, the two enter into the longest con of them all.

Sue will become the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve heiress, and aid Gentleman in her seduction. They’ll secure her inheritance and dispose of Maud in an insane asylum, never to be heard from again. What could possibly go wrong?

But as Sue gets closer to Maud, she begins to pity and care for her in unexpected ways. But nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian tale that will thrill, delight, and shock you.

The sheer number of brilliant plot twists this book has to offer will keep you on your toes to the very end.

the centre, book with a plot twist

The Centre

By Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi

Anisa Ellahi is a Pakistani translator who mostly works in subtitling schlocky Bollywood movies from her London flat. She dreams of translating great works of literature and being an important cultural figure, but worries she lacks the necessary language skills. Then she meets Adam, a savant who apparently learned how to speak Urdu overnight. 

Adam tells Anisa about the Centre, an elite, invite-only program that guarantees absolute fluency in any language in just ten days. It's the solution to her problems, clearly, but as she descends further into the culture of the Centure, she realizes the horrible cost of this gift.

This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for Early Bird Books to continue publishing the book stories you love.

Featured photo: Gabriella Dickson / Unsplash