Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker: The Best Psychological Thriller I’ve Read Since Gone Girl

Emma in the night by Wendy WalkerFiction – Mystery / Thriller
Released August 8, 2017
320 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (St. Martin’s Press)


Emma in the Night‘s ending has the rare perfect balance between being surprising, yet still fitting with the story and it’s the first 5 star thriller I’ve read since Gone Girl.

Plot Summary

Three years after teenage sisters Emma and Cass disappeared from their home, Cass returns home without Emma and forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winters returns to help Cass find Emma.

Why I Read It

This was a lucky read. I’d read Walker’s debut thriller (All is Not Forgotten), but wasn’t a huge fan. St. Martin’s Press sent me an e-galley of Emma in the Night (thank you!) and I almost wasn’t motivated to pick it up. Then, Michelle at That’s What She Read said she read it in a day while floating in a pool…so, I decided to give it a try.

Major Themes

Childhood Trauma, Abuse, Family Secrets, Sisters, Narcissist Personality Disorder

What I Liked

  • I could not put this book down! And, I liked it so much better than All is Not Forgotten! If I had the kind of life where I could devote a whole day to reading, I could’ve read this book in one day. It’s the first 5 star thriller I’ve read since Gone Girl. If you’re looking for an immersive, edge-of-your-seat page turner for your last vacation of the summer, Emma in the Night is your book!
  • It’s a bit of a cross between a psychological thriller and a dysfunctional family novel. Both paths are extremely well-developed.
  • I was fascinated by the focus on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the psychology of how this affects a family. I love how Walker went deep with the psychology angle throughout the whole book and explored how this disorder can be passed down through generations.
  • This novel is full of ambiguity. I spent most of my time reading wondering who was telling the truth, who was the real manipulator, and how and why everything played out like it did. I literally changed my mind on these questions dozens of times throughout the story.
  • Finally…a thriller with an ending that is surprising, yet absolutely makes sense with the story!! This is the number one characteristic I look for in thrillers and the number one thing that often goes wrong (hence why I’ve been turned off by thrillers lately). Kudos, Wendy Walker, for getting this exactly right!

What I Didn’t Like

Not one thing.

A Defining Quote

And so they were fierce competitors in their secret club, for each other’s love, for the love of everyone around them. And all I could do was watch from a distance, one short enough that I could see the escalation. Two nation-states in a constant battle for power and control. It was unsustainable. And so it continued, this war between my mother and my sister, until the night we were gone.

Good for People Who Like…

Psychological thrillers, dysfunctional family novels, secrets / betrayal, unputdownable books

Other Books You May Like

The only other psychological thriller that left me the highest level of satisfied:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (my review)

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. vicki stokes wrote:

    great Sarah – i will get in to this one ! thank you

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  2. Wow! I think I have an e-galley of this as well.

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Get on it!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  3. Angela wrote:

    Every review I read of this book makes me more excited about it! I love psychological thrillers and dysfunctional family dramas, so this sounds right up my alley!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yay – I hope you love it!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  4. Taryn wrote:

    I really liked this one too. I haven’t been a huge fan of this type of book lately, but like you said, this one actually made sense in the end!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      It’s a rarity, right!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  5. Naomi wrote:

    I don’t read thrillers very often, but your high praise of this one is hard to ignore. If I’m going to read a thriller I want it to be good! I love ones that dig deep into the psychology, and narcissism is always fascinating! And now I’m curious about that ending…

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I don’t read many thrillers anymore either and there are even fewer that I actually like…I do think you’ll love the psych angle of this one. Pretty fascinating!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  6. Wow! That’s quite the comparison. Gone Girl is indeed high praise and even though for me Emma wasn’t quite there, I still liked it a lot and think it’s going to be a huge hit. I could see this as a really intense movie!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Yep, totally!

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply
  7. renee wrote:

    I just got this one! Looking forward to it after your high praise and endorsement!!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  8. Melinda wrote:

    Thanks for sharing this! I just added it to my wishlist!

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  9. Sassy wrote:

    Added to my serious long wish list. Thx

    Posted 8.10.17 Reply
  10. Catherine wrote:

    You’re invoking Gone Girl?! I never thought I’d see the day.

    I just finished this and can see why you’d say it. I liked it, but not loved it. Dead Letters is still my only 5 star psych thriller and the one to beat for me.

    Posted 8.11.17 Reply
  11. Andrea wrote:

    I was swearing off thrillers for a while, but now you have me intrigued! I know you wouldn’t throw out Gone Girl lightly 🙂

    Posted 8.12.17 Reply
  12. I’ve had my fill of thrillers for the summer, but this one sounds good. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews on other book blogs as well. I wonder if this one will be nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards in November…

    Posted 8.14.17 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I hope so! Bet it’ll be up against Behind Her Eyes…and, ugh, that was an atrocity…

      Posted 8.14.17 Reply

Get Weekly Email Updates!

Join our mailing list to receive all new blog posts in one weekly email. Plus, news of special updates and offers!

You have Successfully Subscribed!