8 queer novels that will keep you awake at night

In past thrillers, if weird characters were mentioned, they were usually delegated to the victims or the villains. But over the past few years, mainstream publishers have finally let LGBTQIA+ writers have a voice in the thriller genre, with queer lead characters in unique and chilling situations.

In my own thriller, So happy for you, Robin is a queer college girl who reluctantly agrees to be bridesmaid for her best friend, Ellie, who would kill for a perfect wedding, literally. It highlights the absurdity of the marriage industrial complex and the intricacies of female friendship between someone who is queer and someone who is cishet.

When I started to write So happy for you, I was so grateful that there were recent queer thrillers I could turn to for research, and since writing the book, I’ve been happy to read even more. The following list isn’t all thrillers, technically – some are more mystery or crime reads – but they’re all guaranteed to keep you up at night!

These violent delights by Micah Nemerever

My elevator pitch for this one is usually “gay boys who want to do murder together”. SOLD, right? But more specifically, it’s about Paul and Julian, who meet as freshmen in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and are drawn to each other, first as equals. intellectuals, then as something more. In an effort to deepen and maintain their bond, they hatch a violent plan to carry out together. You’ll violently turn the pages to find out if they go all the way – the novel is both delightfully plotted and delightfully written.

leave the world behind by Ruman Alam

When I started reading this, I wondered why Alam was writing about a white cishet family vacationing at a posh Airbnb on Long Island. Boring. But as I got into it, I realized it was because he was going to screw up their lives. One night there’s a knock on the door and it turns out it’s the owners, an elderly black couple who fled New York after a sudden power outage – they didn’t know where to go. Renters and landlords have to decide if they can trust each other, especially as more and more bizarre and disturbing things start to happen. You’ll grit your teeth (and have nightmares about them falling) as you descend deeper and deeper into this hellish vacation.

The luminous lands by John Fram

Friday night lights meets Stephen King, but queer, in this story. Joel, a gay man living in New York, returns to the small, football-obsessed Texas town he escaped from years ago after his younger brother, the star quarterback, disappeared. You know the deal: dark, long-buried secrets come to light as Joel tries to uncover the truth about what happened to his brother. The ending will make you SCREAM.

Auditors by Jane Pek

This one could probably be classed more as a mystery – it’s about Claudia Lin, a Chinese-American lesbian who is recruited by an online dating detective agency that checks to see if people are really who they say they are. on their dating profiles. When a customer goes missing, Claudia breaks the rules and investigates, unearthing deception on many levels. The central mystery of what happened to the client is only a large part of this book – another is the complex dynamics of Claudia’s family.

razor tears by SA Cosby

I think this one had about the best premise of the year: After an interracial gay couple is murdered, their (not super accepting) ex-con dads reunite in a bloody, action-packed quest to the truth. If you think revenge is a dish best served on someone’s skull, you’ll love this ass-kicking crime read.

Yes Dad by Jonathan Parks Ramage

Presented as a modern queer goth, Yes Dad tells the story of Jonah, an aspiring writer with big ambitions and his sugar daddy from hell, Richard. After Jonah is invited to stay at Richard’s sprawling estate in the Hamptons, he thinks his life is finally back on track, but – DUN DUN DUNNNN – he couldn’t be more wrong. Be advised, this book needs around 4,389,242 trigger warnings, but if you can do that, you’ll be rewarded with a (kinda, oddly) happy ending.

bath house by PJ Vernon

fans of Yes Dad will probably also be fans of bath house, as the two tread similar territory: Oliver, a young, recovering drug addict, finally has what seems like the perfect life with his older, successful partner. But one evening, while his partner is away, temptation prevails and he goes to a public bath, where he has a violent encounter that ends up changing everything.

We watch Eliza Bright by A. E. Osworth

When video game coder Eliza reports workplace harassment and it isn’t taken seriously, she’s forced to tell a reporter, who airs her story on the internet. A mob of angry male gamers begin threatening Eliza and stalking her with every move, online and offline. One of the most interesting things about this book is that it says in the first person plural of male players, which of course is unreliable. It provides a searing, uncomfortable reflection of the toxic masculinity that permeates gaming culture.

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