Welcome back to another edition of Top 5 Tuesday! It was originally created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm but now has its home at the lovely Meeghan Reads. This week’s topic is books that revolve around a death! Ooooo…sounds dramatic. With this topic, I tried to mostly stay away from just using straight-up murder mystery books (because, duh, a death is the whole damn premise of the genre) in order to give the list a little more variety. So, here are five books that I really enjoyed whose plot rests largely on a significant death.
The Push – Ashley Audrain
To explain how this book is about a death would be a spoiler so I won’t. In truth, The Push is about so much more than that – the relationships between mothers and daughters, mental health, and societal conventions of motherhood, just to name a few things. However, it’s the death of a particular character that sets off a series of events that massively changes the life of the narrator. The book is about a woman named Blythe who struggles to connect with her daughter Violet after she’s born. As Violet grows, Blythe begins to worry there might be something…twisted and wrong with her child.
Sadie – Courtney Summers
Oh, Sadie. I feel like I haven’t spoken about this book in a while and since it’s a) fantastic and b) perfectly suited for this week’s topic, let’s rectify that right now. It’s just so darn heartbreaking and I don’t think I’ve really read many books like it. The death relevant here is that of Mattie, little sister to our 19-year-old protagonist, Sadie. Mattie meant everything to Sadie and with the two having grown up in a terrible home environment, Sadie felt responsible for keeping her sister safe. So, following her murder, Sadie sets out, determined to track down Mattie’s killer and get revenge. It’s a dark, raw, and expertly told story that won’t be for everyone but is well worth a read.
Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
While Rebecca is about a wedding, which was last week’s topic, it’s more importantly about the death of the titular character. The novel centers around an unnamed protagonist who after meeting wealthy widow Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo marries and returns with him to his famous English estate, Manderley. However, she soon finds that the presence of Maxim’s glamorous former wife, Rebecca, lingers over everything, aided by Manderley’s hostile housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, who refuses to allow her mistress’s precious memory to be papered over. Our protagonist begins to question whether she will ever measure up to the legendary first Mrs de Winter. But the real question is, is Rebecca truly gone?
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Secret History is one of those books that if you were to try and explain what it was about, you would probably say it’s about a death. A murder to be exact, committed by a group of university classics students against one of their friends to cover up another murder that took place during an ancient Roman ritual. In truth, it’s far more complicated and deals with a myriad of themes and ideas. It’s about group dynamics, the power of guilt and secrets, social class, the nature of beauty, fate vs choice, and so much more. The writing is dark, intense, intelligent, and wonderfully addictive. If you’re curious about the book that kicked off the dark academia genre, this is the one to read.
Vicious – V. E. Schwab
Another great read that I haven’t chatted about for a bit. So, technically there are a bunch of deaths in Vicious and that’s because the whole premise is people dying, being brought back, and developing special X-men type abilities as a result. Yet, these people don’t stay dead so the death I’m actually referring to is that of Angie, a university classmate of our leads Victor and Eli (& Eli’s girlfriend). While Victor and Eli have a friendship/rivalry before this event, it’s Angie’s death that puts their whole Professor X-Magneto conflict into full motion. The book follows the two men years later as Victor tries to get revenge on Eli for putting him in prison and Eli seeks to kill Victor as part of his plan to hunt down all ExtraOrdinary humans.
What are some of your favourite books that centre around the death of a particular character?