Reading lists

9 books exploring the trope of the ‘unhinged woman’ to read this Halloween

This Halloween, we’ve selected nine thrilling reads featuring complicated anti-heroines to add to your reading list.

Carmella Lowkis
Stack of 9 books on a wooden shelf against a blue background, surrounded by gourds and a white candle.

From Lady Macbeth to Lizzie Borden, we’ve always been culturally fascinated by stories about vengeful, angry or murderous women. In the past, these figures have served as a cautionary tale against breaking from gendered expectations, but recent pop culture has reclaimed the trope of the ‘unhinged’ anti-heroine as a feminist icon. In a society that so often denies women their agency, the trope asks whether these characters are really unhinged at all, or just living out our darkest fantasies of empowerment and catharsis.

If you’re looking to read about female rage and bloodshed for Halloween, here are nine books to get you started.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more