In The Attic

‘What if locking the door won’t keep the bad things away?’ – Eva Holland on Domestic Thrillers

2014 Good Housekeeping novel writing competition winner, and author of The Daughter’s Secret, Eva Holland explores why we enjoy reading about bad things happening to nice people.
The Daughter’s Secret is out in paperback, ebook and audio on 13th August. Start reading now. 

Everyone’s talking about domestic thrillers, but what is it about these tales of seemingly nice, normal families imploding that has us all hooked?

From husbands with hidden pasts to teenagers with dangerous secrets, domestic thrillers deal in mistrust and betrayal of the most intimate kind. They take the familiar landscape of our everyday lives – the school runs and cups of tea, the joint bank accounts and family dinners – and cast it in a new and deeply unsettling light.

These novels challenge our assumptions that our homes are places of safety where we can go and lock the front door to keep the bad stuff outside and that our partners and families are the people we can turn to in times of trouble. They have all the page-turning pace and intrigue of a crime thriller with characters we can relate to because they are people just like us.

But I think their appeal runs deeper than this.

We build our families around us. We choose our lovers, partners, husbands, wives and bind ourselves to them. Together we build a life, a home; maybe we have children.

Domestic thrillers pose the question of what happens when we discover that what we have built through our choices and our love isn’t as perfect as we thought it to be.

What if our home is full of danger and our family full of secrets? What if locking the front door won’t keep the bad things away because they’re already here, because we’ve been eating breakfast with them and kissing them goodnight for years?

By telling these stories domestic thrillers give us more than just a gripping read. They give us the opportunity to glimpse some of our deepest fears – fears about how well we really know those we love and how well we really know ourselves.

The Daughter’s Secret is out in paperback, ebook and audio on 13th August. Start reading now. 

Love reading about bad things happening to nice people? Here’s our list of our favourite thrillers that bring danger to your doorstep.

Eva Holland’s The Daughter’s Secret

A gripping psychological thriller from the winner of the 2014 GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Novel Writing Competition.

When Rosalind’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie, ran away with her teacher, this ordinary family became something it had never asked to be.

Six years on, Ros takes a call that will change their lives all over again. He’s going to be released from prison. Years too early.

As the release creeps ever closer, the family are forced to confront the events that led them here and questions they didn’t want to answer. Why did she do it? Where does the blame lie? What happens next?

Maggy Mitchell’s Pretty Is

Maggy Mitchell’s Pretty Is is a dark, gripping and thoughtful novel about survival, girlhood, beauty, and whether or not you can ever really escape the past.

Lois and Carly-May are twelve years old when they’re abducted and imprisoned in a remote, isolated hunting lodge for two months with a strange man they don’t know. That summer they form a bond which will never be broken . . .

Decades after their abduction, both girls have built new lives and identities for themselves. Increasingly haunted by the devastating experience that shaped both their lives, and after years apart, Lois and Carly-May are drawn together once more.

Linwood Barclay’s No Safe House

No one relishes making horrible things happening to nice families quite like Linwood Barclay.

Not content with putting The Archers through hell once in his SUNDAY TIMES No.1 bestseller No Time For Goodbye, he decided to put them in peril once again in his new novel No Safe House.

Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal which nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. When their teenage daughter foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers are once again unwillingly drawn back into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown.

Harlan Coben’s Six Years

Six years have passed since Jake Fisher watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man.

Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.

But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for… but she is not Natalie – and Jake’s world is turned completely inside out.

John D. Macdonald’s Cape Fear

A dark, psychological thriller, first published in 1957 and filmed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro.

Max Cady, has been in prison for years, nursing his hatred for the man who put him away, attorney Sam Bowden. When Cady gets parole, he begins stalking Bowden’s family.

As Cady’s campaign of terror mounts, the police are powerless to protect the family who must use their wits to survive a psychopath bent on revenge.

Harriet Lane’s Her

How well can you ever know the people around you? ‘The ultimate frenemy thriller’ from the author of Alys Always.

Two women; two different worlds. Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold.  Nina is sophisticated and independent – entirely in control.

When the pair meet, Nina generously draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time the women’s paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and she remembers what Emma did.

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl

The ultimate thriller to make you question how well you know those close to you.

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

Eva Holland

Eva Holland is a freelance copywriter and public relations consultant with a lifelong love of words and stories. She grew up in Gloucestershire and studied in Leeds before moving to London, where she lives with her husband. The Daughter’s Secret is her first novel.