8 thrillers that pack an emotional punch

We're delighted to welcome Sam Lloyd over to Caboodlers' Corner. Sam is the author of the chilling, moving and unputdownable thriller The Memory Wood, and he's recommended eight thrillers that pack an emotional punch. 

What are your favourites? Tell us in the comments below.

Sam Lloyd

"We read thrillers for excitement, but some of them leave an emotional imprint far outlasting the thrills.

The Memory Wood follows two incredibly gifted kids who find themselves playing a life-or-death game of deception. Elissa, a thirteen-year-old chess prodigy, is snatched from a world-ranking tournament on the most important day of her life. Hours later she wakes in darkness, tethered to a metal post. When twelve-year-old Elijah discovers her underground cell, Elissa thinks she’s saved. But Elijah thinks he’s found his first true friend, and is reluctant to give her up.

I knew how Elissa and Elijah’s relationship would end before I even put pen to paper. And while there are twists and turns aplenty along the way, reaching that denouement was what motivated me to start. If readers feel anything of what I felt as I wrote their final scene, the effort will have been worthwhile. Below, I've listed some of my favourite stories that are both page-turners and memorable emotional experiences."




11/22/63 by Stephen King

While helping a dying friend, teacher Jake Epping discovers a time portal in a disused diner. Travelling back to 1963, he tries to prevent the murder of President John F. Kennedy. While Epping’s hunting of Lee Harvey Oswald takes centre stage, it's the effect on his personal relationships that makes this book so special.


Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton

A mother runs into a burning school to save her daughter. Afterwards, she tries to identify the arsonist and permanently end the threat. The beautiful and devastating conclusion made me a Lupton fan for life.

Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Koontz's tale of a short-order fry cook who sees dead people spawned five sequels, three graphic novels and a Hollywood film. But it's the first book of the series which truly stands out, with an ending that's different to anything Koontz had written before.


Room by Emma Donoghue

Jack is five. He lives with his mother in a single locked room, and has never set foot outside it. At night, she shuts him in the wardrobe, to keep him safe during the visits. A book that’s memorable for so many reasons, but particularly the examination of love in the most difficult circumstances.

The Whisper Man

The Whisper Man by Alex North

A widower and his young son move to a new village and try to rebuild their lives. But sleepy Featherbank has a dark past. Fifteen years ago, five boys were murdered by the killer known as 'The Whisper Man'. When another boy goes missing, the father and son discover something horrific in the garage of their new home.

The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

In 1973, Susie Salmon is murdered. From heaven, she witnesses the impact of her death on her family, and does what she can to put things right. Published in 2002, the book became an international sensation.

The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

In the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, a man travels across America with one goal: keeping his son alive. Terrible, heartrending, shocking; it’s not an easy read, but once started you cannot look away.

Then She Was Gone

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

A grieving mother walks into a coffee shop and meets an enigmatic stranger. As their relationship develops, he introduces her to his nine-year-old daughter, who’s the spitting image of the daughter she lost years earlier.


About The Memory Wood

Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

Win a signed copy of The Memory Wood

Post a comment below telling us which emotional thrillers are your favourites and we will pick five readers to each receive a signed copy of Sam Lloyd's The Memory Wood. We'll pick winners after Thursday 5th March 2020. Congratulations fdrinkell, Kirsty Mcinroy, hitchcocked, Jeantte1979 & Lisa Storm-Olsen, please get in touch with us.

The Memory Wood

Terms and Conditions

5 x winners will each receive a signed copy of Sam Lloyd's The Memory Wood

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Only one entry per person will be accepted.
  • The prizes are non-transferable and there are no cash alternatives. The Promoter reserves the right to amend the specification of the prize or offer an alternative prize.
  • Closing date 11:59pm, Thursday 5th March 2020. 
  • The competition is open to UK and Republic of Ireland residents except employees of the Booksellers Association and Book Tokens Ltd., and employees of participating bookshops.
  • Entrants must be aged 16 or over.
  • Entrants agree to Book Tokens Ltd. using their details in post-competition publicity. Your details will not be used for any other purpose, or passed onto any third parties, unless specified. Winners’ details may be shared securely with a third-party in order to fulfil the dispatch of competition prizes.
  • We will contact winners by replying to their original comment below. Winners must contact the email address we provide. In the event of a winner not responding after 14 days, we reserve the right to allocate the prize to another winner.
  • The promoters’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Unsuccessful entrants will not be contacted.
  • Book Tokens Ltd. will only use your email address and other personal information as outlined in our privacy policy.
  • Promoter: Book Tokens Ltd, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR.


Caboodlers' Corner

Caboodlers' Corner

Browse quizzes, reading lists, and recommendations from our guest booksellers.

Caboodlers' Corner
Caboodle Firsts

Caboodle Firsts

Be one of 100 booklovers to read the next big thing before anyone else.

Caboodle Firsts
National book token cookie themed gift card

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single visitor in possession of a good website, must be in want of a cookie."
Pride and Prejudice* by Jane Austen

We use cookies to make our website work, understand how visitors use our website, and display relevant marketing to you.