Has the news of Netflix’s revival of Daphne du Maurier’s renowned novel got you craving more books like Rebecca? It’s not surprising, the 1938 novel which introduced us to the debonair Maxim de Winter, his second wife our nervous narrator, the sinister Mrs Danvers and (of course) the ghost of Maxim’s first wife Rebecca, is a classic!
Luckily there are plenty of novels like Rebecca out there just waiting to be read, perhaps because du Maurier touches on elements across different genres making the narrative versatile and accessible to different readerships.
It is a winner for those who like a Victorian classic, with pages packed full of destructive passion, a tangled web of relationships, revenge, death and a struggle of social hierarchy, but it’s also popular with fans of psychological thrillers due to Mrs Danvers gaslighting of poor Mrs. de Winter the second, then for the mystery fanatics, there’s the seemingly mysterious death of Rebecca it is even a bit spooky at times for the horror lovers out there.
With this in mind, this list of books like Rebecca consists of a mixture of classic and contemporary novels to suit any fan of du Maurier’s classic.
10 Books like Rebecca
My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier
I’ll kick this list of books like Rebecca off with a lesser know Daphne du Maurier novel but one that is perhaps slightly more sinister, it is the haunting My Cousin Rachel.
Set predominantly on another Cornwall estate where Philip Ashley, orphaned at a young age, happily lives with his kindly elder cousin, the steadfast and single Ambrose. Philip is set to be the heir of the estate and both cousins are content with the arrangement until, Ambrose takes a trip to Florence where he surprisingly falls in love, gets married and then shockingly dies!
Racked with grief and hatred, Philip awaits the arrival of his cousin’s widow and is resolute on finding out whether she’d had a hand in Ambrose’s death, yet nothing could quite prepare him for the arrival of the hauntingly beautiful and mysterious Rachel.
Though the plot of Rebecca is more complex, the simplicity of My Cousin Rachel along with its air of an old-style mystery – the clues and insinuations make it a bewitching joy to read.
The Binding, by Bridget Collins
Bridget Collins’s 2018 novel The Binding is the first contemporary novel on this list of books similar to Rebecca. Set in an alternate universe reminiscent of England in the 19th Century,
Collins describes a world where books are dangerous, as are the words and memories with which they are written. People come to book binders to relieve themselves of their most painful, harrowing, guilty memories, once these memories are put down on paper and bound into books these memories lose their power as if erased like the slate is wiped clean.
Our protagonist Emmett is sent away from his family to work as an apprentice at a book binders after suffering some sort of curious mental episode, here he becomes infatuated by the magic involved in ridding these people of their weighty secrets, the forbidden room where all their stories get stored and the strangely familiar gentleman, Lucien Darnay.
With a plot that twists and turns, an intriguing narrative that will leave you gasping The Binding is the escape we all need at the moment, (if only we could bind, shelf and forget the memories of the year 2020!)
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
Another classic novel is next on the list in the form of Emily Brontë’s outstanding Wuthering Heights, the epitome of Victorian literature. Centring around the Wuthering Heights estate where the infamous Heathcliff now resides as an old man, sad and alone save for a few servants and tortured, estranged family members.
The splintered narrative slowly reveals the events of Heathcliff’s life; his penury, troubling childhood being orphaned at a young age, his ascent into wealth and the obsessive feelings he harbours for his adoptive sister Catherine, feelings which once shunned led him to do the unspeakable and turned him into the bitter, twisted antihero we know so well and have learnt to love today.
The eerie thematic setting, gothic features and complex narrative of Brontë’s Wuthering Heights makes it an ideal read for anyone looking for more obsessive novels like Rebecca, with Heathcliff’s infatuation, vengeful nature and the ghost of Catherine haunting the estate being a particular attraction.
Already know and love this classic gothic novel? Check out our list of more books like Wuthering Heights!
The Confession, by Jessie Burton
Next is the third novel to come from the bestselling author Jessie Burton which involves another juicy narrative steeped in mystery, forbidden secrets and ghosts, The Confession is a powerful read set to enchant fans of novels similar to Rebecca.
The novel begins in Hampstead Heath in the 1980s where timid waif Elise Morceau the drifter meets bold alluring Constance Holden, the successful writer. Elise quickly falls under Connie’s spell and follows her and her fame to America but though the glamour, the parties and bright lights are enough for Connie, Elise struggles with their new life and impulsively leaves, disappearing without a trace…
Fast forward thirty years and to a young lady, Rose Simmonds, who is in search of information about her mother, she learns that a reclusive writer named Constance Holden was the last person to see her so she sets out to unearth what happened all those years ago and draw out a confession.
The Confession is a deeply moving novel, luminously written in dual timeframes which truly captures the essence of storytelling.
The Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins
Written in 1859, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins is said to be one of the most influential Victorian novels to combine psychological realism and Gothic horror its the next classic on the list!
Walter Hartright recalls his eerie encounter one night in London with a woman in white, said to be a patient escaped from a mental asylum by local police. He takes up a new post at Limmeridge House as a drawing teacher where he is introduced to the tangled web of the Fairlie family; Frederick Fairlie, his niece Laura Fairlie (who bears a striking resemblance to the woman in white) and Marian Halcombe who is Laura’s older half-sister.
The story starts to unfold via multiple narratives which slowly reveal who the woman in white really is and the lengths people will go to keep secrets hidden including committing those you allegedly love. If you like the explorations into paranoia, identity and insanity in Rebecca then The Woman in White will make a great next read for you.
Wakenhyrst, by Michelle Paver
If you like Rebecca for the atmospheric gothic, the blurred boundaries of what is and isn’t real and the peek into one’s psyche then carry on through to Wakenhyrst, a creepy novel by Michelle Paver.
Edmund Stearn appears to be an upstanding member of the town of Wakenhyrst, he is a scholar, historian, landowner, husband and father, but behind the doors of Wake’s End his large manor house, Edmund is anything but upstanding, he’s a tyrannical disciplinarian that bullies his family.
One day Edmund stumbles upon an eye in the undergrowth during a walk through a churchyard, and realises it is part of a doom painting, a terrifying depiction of hell, presumably taken from the church. Despite its historical significance Edmund leaves the painting where he found it but unfortunately the doom doesn’t stray far from his mind and we see him begin to slip further and further into madness.
A superb novel, Wakenhyrst will keep you on the edge of your seat, your coffee ignored and turned cold and paper cuts from flipping pages too quickly, enjoy.
The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
The next classic novel like Rebecca again errs more on the scarier side of fiction, it’s Henry James’s iconic The Turn of the Screw.
James’s 1898 novella tells the story of a young governess whose first job was at a rather forlorn-looking estate taking care of two strange and distant orphan children named Miles and Flora. Both children are captivating in their beauty yet oddly silent, particularly about Miles’ recent expulsion from boarding school and the strange phantom-like figures which keep appearing in and around the grounds.
The governess fears these ghostly creatures want the children, to possess their bodies, minds and souls, and tries her best to protect them which soon seems fruitless as the children are just as drawn to these half-seen figures as they are to them.
Originally released as a serial in Colliers Weekly Magazine (which to me seems like a good idea due to the level of scary) The Turn of the Screw is utterly chilling for all the right reasons.
The Lost Ones, by Anita Frank
We are transported to 1917 England in our next novel, the disquieting The Lost Ones in a startlingly brilliant debut from author Anita Frank.
Stella Marcham is grieving the death of her fiancé, seeking comfort and solace she goes to stay with her pregnant sister Madeleine at Greyswick her arresting mansion in the country, unfortunately, all she finds there is an air of unease and her sister riddled with paranoia and trepidation.
A series of strange events begin troubling Stella too, strange noises in the night which sound like crying and the patter of footsteps up and down the stairs, so much so that she becomes obsessed with the history of the house and intent on uncovering its tragic past and dark secrets, even if these secrets are revealed as whispers from the dead…
Stella’s intoxicating fascination with the house is reminiscent of du Maurier’s Manderly, fans of the aforementioned Henry James will enjoy The Lost Ones as well as those (of course) on the hunt for more books like Rebecca.
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie
For the mystery element of books similar to Rebecca, I have included a classic murder mystery brought to you by the queen of crime Agatha Christie and her vastly popular Murder on the Orient Express.
A Hercule Poirot mystery, we find the renowned Detective amidst a peculiar assortment of passengers onboard a luxurious sleeper train the Orient Express travelling from the Middle East to London. One night a huge snowdrift stops the train mid-journey as plans need to be made to clear the tracks, by morning most passengers emerge from their cabins none the wiser to the disruptions of the previous night, but one passenger fails to wake.
Ratchett, an American tycoon, lies dead in his cabin from multiple stab wounds his door locked from the inside, and so it is down to Poirot to solve the mystery, identify the murderer and put a stop to any potential killing spree.
Though incredibly popular and remade into a variety of media, Murder on the Orient Express remains a classic today set to engross you until the very last page.
Love Agatha Christie? Check out our list of books like And Then There Were None!
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Gillian Flynn’s vastly popular psychological thriller Gone Girl has the potential to offer readers a potential glimpse of Rebecca’s perspective thanks to the central characters toxic marriage and the prevailing question; how well do you really know your spouse?
Amy and Nick Dunne are about to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary together, that is until the clever, charming and beautiful Amy mysteriously disappears leaving Nick looking suspicious and guilty. Though he harbours secrets of his own, inappropriately daydreams and behaves particularly evasively to police questioning, Nick did not have anything to do with his wife’s disappearance.
So who did?
Told in alternating perspectives from Amy and Nick we slowly find out who is the calculating, scheming psychopath in an utterly suspenseful novel with a shocking twist to keep readers on their toes. Books like Rebecca draw you in, keep you guessing (and fray your nerves) and Flynn’s critically acclaimed Gone Girl is no exception!
Have you read this novel already? Check out our list of books like Gone Girl!
There you have it 5 classics and 5 contemporary novels like Rebecca! This list is not exhaustive there are so many I could have included I hope you enjoy and please let us know if you have any more suggestions.
Are you searching for more books like Rebecca? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!