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Unhinged Women in Literature

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Reading books about the righteous can get pretty stale, can’t it? Morals and rules tend to get boring after page 10. Instead, let me introduce you to the unhinged-woman side of book recommendations. These characters are messy, emotional, and eager to make the wrong choices. They’re unlikable and resistant to catering to others’ desires. Long story short—they make for very interesting protagonists.

Discover these great unhinged characters

Here’s a list of some of our favorite unhinged women in literature.“We Do What We Do in the Dark” by Michelle Hart. A sapphic tale about a woman and her affair with a much older married woman. Mallory is a freshman at college when she first meets the woman who works at the school. But years after the affair, she remains haunted by the relationship and must decide if she’ll stay in a life of isolation or step out of the shell and confess what this woman meant to her. “Out” by Natsuo KirinoAll you need to know? In the quiet Tokyo suburbs, a young mother who works the night shift making boxed lunches strangles her abusive husband and then seeks the help of her coworkers to dispose of the body and cover up her crime. It’s a wild ride worth taking. “Exalted” by Anna Dorn Emily is a self-hating lesbian who runs Exalted, a successful astrology account on Instagram. But Emily’s feeling burnt out, and she’s tired of making astrology memes and listicles. That is until she finds the perfect birth chart of one Beau Rubidoux, whose planets are so aligned that Emily’s convinced she’s the love of her life. Then there’s Dawn Webster, a single mother whose son has run off to Hollywood, and checking on Exalted is her one small joy. Switching between Dawn's and Emily’s perspectives, Exalted is dark, funny, and oh-so-relatable. “Homebodies” by Tembe Denton-Hurst Mickey Hayward seemingly has it all. A flashy, high-paying media job and a girlfriend who takes care of her. As a young Black writer, Mickey is frustrated and often feels overlooked, but she believes she might finally get the chance to prove herself—until she finds out she’s being replaced.Mickey fires back with a letter. It outlines the racism and sexism she’s endured as a Black woman in media, but it’s met with overwhelming silence - so she flees to the last place she ever dreamed she would run to: her hometown, where she reconnects with a former fling. When a media scandal catapults Mickey’s forgotten letter into the public zeitgeist, suddenly, everyone wants to hear what Mickey has to say. It’s what she’s always wanted—isn’t it?“Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-GarciaA gorgeous combination of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism, “Silver Nitrate” is a dark thriller about the curse that haunts a legendary lost film, whose director just so happens to be Montserrat’s best friend and Tristán’s neighbor. Together, Montserrat and Tristán help him shoot the missing scene from his movie and lift the curse… but Montserrat soon notices a dark presence following her, and Tristán begins seeing the ghost of his ex-girlfriend. Spooky!“Pizza Girl” by Jean Kyoung FrazierEighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl in suburban Los Angeles, our charmingly dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial. She's grieving the death of her father, avoiding her supportive mom and loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighborhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickle-covered pizzas for her son's happiness. As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.Other titles to check out!A Historical Fiction: ‘Plain Bad Heroines” by Emily M. Danforth and Sara LautmanA Foodie’s Nightmare: “A Certain Hunger” by Chelsea G. Sumner A Psychological Thriller: “In the Hands of Men” by Gin Sexsmith
We Do What We Do in the Dark by Michelle Hart digital book - Fable

We Do What We Do in the Dark

By Michelle Hart

A novel about a young woman’s life-altering affair with a much older, married woman.

Out by Natsuo Kirino digital book - Fable


By Natsuo Kirino

Winner of Japan's Grand Prix for Crime Fiction • Edgar Award Finalist • Nothing in Japanese literature prepares us for the stark, tension-filled, plot-driven realism of Natsuo Kirino’s award-winning literary mystery Out.

Exalted by Anna Dorn digital book - Fable


By Anna Dorn

"I highly enjoyed Exalted—a fun, funny, druggy, wise, and surprising page-turner about highs and lows and parents and relationships." —Tao Lin

Homebodies by Tembe Denton-Hurst digital book - Fable


By Tembe Denton-Hurst

Urgent, propulsive, and strikingly insightful, Homebodies is a thrilling debut novel about a young Black writer whose world is turned upside down when she loses her coveted job in media and pens a searing manifesto about racism in the industry.

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia digital book - Fable

Silver Nitrate

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

A fabulous meld of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism: a dark thriller about the curse that haunts a legendary lost film—and awakens one woman’s hidden powers.

Pizza Girl by  Jean Kyoung Frazier digital book - Fable

Pizza Girl

By Jean Kyoung Frazier

An audacious and wryly funny coming-of-age story about a pregnant pizza delivery girl who becomes obsessed with one of her customers.

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth and Sara Lautman digital book - Fable

Plain Bad Heroines

By Emily M. Danforth and Sara Lautman

A highly imaginative and original horror-comedy centered around a cursed New England boarding school for girls—a wickedly whimsical celebration of the art of storytelling, sapphic love, and the rebellious female spirit

A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers digital book - Fable

A Certain Hunger

By Chelsea G. Summers

Discerning, meticulous, and very, very smart, Dorothy’s clear mastery of the culinary arts make it likely that she could, on any given night, whip up a more inspired dish than any one of the chefs she writes about.

In the Hands of Men by Gin Sexsmith digital book - Fable

In the Hands of Men

By Gin Sexsmith

Haunted by the loss of her cousin, Cedar, Delilah has curated a world of revenge-playing judge, jury, and executioner while, you know, searching for love. Maybe murdering gives her the control she craves.

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