10 Darkly Comedic Books to Shock You

These black humor novels are perfect if you don't know whether you want to laugh or cry.

dark comedy books

Delving into topics such as illness, suffering, and death, dark comedies explore some of the most uncomfortable aspects of human nature and use humor and satire to dissolve some of the despair. If you’re looking for something that makes you cackle and cringe in equal measure, this list has something for you. 

sleepwalk, a dark comedy book


By Dan Chaon

If your phone rang right now and the woman on the other end claimed to be your daughter, what would you do? Would you believe her? Would you be concerned as to how she got your number? 

These are among Will Bear’s concerns when one of his several burner phones rings. A reclusive hitman who lives off the grid, Will lives a less than serene existence. Not only has he been contacted by a daughter that he never knew existed, but she claims to be embroiled in a conspiracy with the people Will works for. 

Sleepwalk is set in the United States in a not too distant future, exploring the effects of pandemics, climate change, and the shifting political landscape. Have you ever wondered what 1984 would be like if it was blended with Blade Runner and a little bit of John Wick? If you have, give Sleepwalk a try. 

dykette, a dark comedy book


By Jenny Fran Davis

Davis’ Dykette explores a range of sapphic partnerships, and how messy relationships can become. Set at an idyllic country home, three queer couples come together for a ten-day winter vacation. Sasha, a terminal pick-me femme with a preference for dating butches, is at the center of the novel. 

The relationships between the three couples become messier and messier as the lines between their partnerships blur over the course of the week and a half. Dykette delves into the shifting dynamics between different generations of queer couples, plunging what should be an idyllic holiday getaway into chaos. 



By John Brandon

This darkly comedic noir-adjacent novel is set in the gritty Ozarks. Arkansas tells the story of Swin and Kyle, two drug runners who work for a mysterious kingpin. Kyle and Swin do their jobs well enough and eke out a decent existence—until their boss is killed. The two rush to hide the body, determined not to let the operation’s kingpin, Frog, know anything about what’s happened. 

This may seem like a simple task, but people soon begin trying to find out where their former boss has gotten to. Swin and Kyle are determined to get the hell out of Dodge without anyone knowing the grizzly truth. 

Dead Girl Walking

Dead Girl Walking

By Christopher Brookmyre

The sixth of the Jack Parlabane Thrillers series finds the Scottish journalist looking into the case of a missing rock star. Dead Girl Walking plunges Jack Parlabane into the deep end of the gritty, dizzying world of the music industry. Jack has recently come off a case that left his reputation in tatters, and when the sister of a friend contacts him to investigate the disappearance of Heike Gunn, he sees an opportunity for redemption. 

Jack combs through the roadies, the band members, the managers—anyone that he can think of that may have had something to do with Gunn’s disappearance. 

Crooked Heart

Crooked Heart

By Lissa Evans

Crooked Heart is great for fans of the HBO series Hacks. It follows the friendship of a young orphan named Noel Bostock and an older, resourceful woman named Vee Sedge. Noel is sent to live with Vee after the tragic death of his godmother. Vee has her own struggles, ranging from financial difficulties to the challenges of raising her son.

As London faces the upheaval of the Blitz, Noel and Vee embark on a series of schemes to navigate the difficulties of wartime life.

The Dice Man

The Dice Man

By Luke Rhinehart

The Dice Man is the story of Dr. Luke Rhinehart, a psychiatrist who becomes increasingly disillusioned with his monotonous and predictable existence. Determined to escape his one-note existence, he takes on a new approach to his life: making decisions based on the roll of dice.

As Dr. Rhinehart gives himself and his life over to the randomness of the dice, he finds that the choices that they make for him aren’t always the most morally or socially responsible. 

Don't Point That Thing at Me

Don't Point That Thing at Me

By Kyril Bonfiglioli

Perfect for fans of true crime and art history, Don’t Point That Thing at Me highlights some of the darker aspects of the art trade. The novel follows Mortdecai as he becomes embroiled in a plot involving a stolen Goya painting and a secret Nazi conspiracy.

Mortdecai and his loyal manservant Jock navigate a world of eccentric characters, deceit, and absurdity, all while dealing with their own financial troubles and amorous entanglements.

The Last Resort

The Last Resort

By Alison Lurie

Determined to bring life back into her marriage, Jenny Walker convinces her reclusive, depressed husband to take a trip to Key West. Wilkie Walker may not leap at the chance initially; he comes to realize that this little trip may suit his plans perfectly. While Jenny sees this trip as an opportunity for a bonding experience, Wilkie sees it as a chance to end his own life. 

When they arrive at the resort, Jenny is quickly drawn into the community there, taking on a part time job and ingratiating herself with the locals. Wilkie, on the other hand, does his best to plan his death—and to avoid the persistent fans of his writing. 

I, Lucifer

I, Lucifer

By Glen Duncan

An excellent pick for fans of Lucifer and Good Omens, Duncan’s novel is narrated by the fallen angel himself. Given a final chance at redemption by God, Lucifer gives it up in favor of experiencing life as a human one last time. He takes over the body of a failed novelist named Declan Gunn. 

Taking Declan’s form allows him to experience self-discovery, and to explore the human condition, desires, and morality.

After Birth

After Birth

By Elisa Albert

While becoming a mother is typically portrayed as a joyous occasion, the realities are influenced by personal circumstances. Having recently given birth, Ari finds herself struggling with isolation and postpartum depression in a small town. 

As Ari battles postpartum depression and attempts to reconcile her loss of autonomy with the demands of motherhood, she forges an unlikely friendship with Mina, a charismatic poet. Together, they navigate the often harsh realities of modern motherhood.