So you just watched Saltburn, and you’re looking for something else decadent and deranged? Luckily for you the decadent and deranged are some of fiction's favorite subjects.
Here are sixteen books to read after watching Saltburn:
These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever
If you watched Saltburn and thought Hm Jacob Elordi could afford to be more obsessed with Barry Keoghan, have I got the book for you! The love is definitely reciprocal in this book, but that doesn’t make it any less obsessive or violent.
Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval translated by Marjam Idriss
Don’t ask me to summarize the plot of this novel, but it has some of that visceral, tactile squirminess so many of us experienced watching Saltburn – come for the weird obsessive roommate situation, stay for the rotting, mushroom-filled apartment.
When We Lost Our Heads by Heather O’Neill
Marie and Sadie are best friends, obsessed with – and jealous of – each other. One is wealthy, one poor. Both are somewhat sadistic. Their story will take you across 19th century Montreal, from finishing schools, to factories, to brothels, as they grow from girls to young women. If you loved Saltburn, what’s a better follow up than a period piece about best friends whose obsession with each other has a body count?
A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G Summers
This tracks the life of food critic Dorothy Daniels, from her farmhouse childhood to the moment she murders a man in order to – well, I won’t spoil it, but if you loved Saltburn’s combination of gross and horny, check this out.
Paradais by Fernanda Melchin, translated by Sophie Hughes
We’ve discussed this book on this blog before, but it’s perfect for this list, too. Two misfit and miserable teens sneak out in a luxury housing community to drink. Each has their own obsession – one with a beautiful, married neighbor, the other with escaping his mother and their village. Together they hatch a scheme to get what they want – with harrowing consequences. If you loved the reveal at the end of Saltburn, grab a copy of this.
My Husband by Maud Ventura, translated by Emma Ramadan
Even after fifteen years of marriage, the main character of this book is still obsessively in love with her perfect husband. So obsessed that she watches him closely, and lays intricate little traps to make sure he still loves her as much as she loves him. But what happens when her little traps go too far? Booklist called this an addition to the “relationship suspense” genre, alongside books like Gone Girl and You, so if you loved Saltburn’s obsessive main character, this might be the perfect follow up.
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Originally published in 1946, this is the story of Oxford student Charles Ryder, who falls in love with the eccentric, aristocratic Flyte family and their beautiful old house, Brideshead. Sound familiar? There’s less blood and bathwater in Brideshead Revisited, and a whole lot more Catholicism, but if you love yearning this book is full of it.
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Two young men, one wealthy, one pretending. Add a nice dose of obsession and death, and we have the perfect sinister concoction – for this book, and Saltburn, too.
Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh
My theory, which is based in 0% fact, is that when everyone became obsessed with My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa decided to push the boundaries of her fandom by publishing something disgusting. Almost as if to say, Oh you like my work, do you? Well how do you like THIS?! The result is a foul, fascinating book about power and revenge.
The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
A schoolboy spends the summer with his fabulously wealthy classmate and spends the summer eating cucumber sandwiches and helping his friend’s beautiful older sister pass messages to her illicit lover as a heatwave beats down on them all.
Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
This book tugs apart issues of class like wool and looks closely at the fibers, exploring the ways that wealth and power impacts the various characters. It’s also a page turner, full of all the glamor, scheming and revenge you could hope for, so if you’re looking for a family saga to follow up the Cattons, check out the Wadias next.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Infamous dark academia darling If We Were Villains spends its time actually at the elite school rather than on holiday from the elite school, but don’t worry because that just means the spiraling obsession and violence is happening on stage during various Shakespeare plays rather than in the privacy of their own homes. It’s just as lush and romantic as you’re hoping, so grab this for the theater drama — especially if you’re a Shakespeare nerd.
House of Cotton by Monica Brashears
Get this: a young woman is offered a modeling job at a funeral home, posing as clients' deceased loved ones. As she’s currently scraping by at a gas station, she accepts the job, but soon, despite making more money than she ever has before in her life, she realizes that her mysterious employer isn’t quite what he seems – especially as her tasks become stranger.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
In order to pay back her adopted family of petty thieves, Sue agrees to help a suave confidence man seduce, marry, and then dispatch wealthy Maud Lilly. But Maud Lilly turns out to be different than Sue expected, and Sue can’t help but begin to pity – among other things – her mark. I’ve seen this billed as Dickens with lesbians, and as with Dickens, characters are not quite what they seem at first glance. Brace yourself for plot twists, secrets, betrayals – you know, Saltburn stuff.
The Houseguest by Amparo Davila, translated by Matthew Gleeson, Audrey Harris
Dark, sometimes scary short stories full of devious twists from one of Mexico’s great writers. To quote bookseller Sofia, "This little book got me. I was mesmerized by the discomfort these stories brought me, in small doses and somehow overwhelmingly. She leans into the eeriness of the everyday and the miniscule uncanniness that lingers in her juicy and transfixing prose."
The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis
Bret and his circle of wealthy, beautiful friends are high school seniors enjoying their parties and privilege, while a serial killer known as the Trawler leaves a path of carnage through LA. When the Trawler strikes close to home, killing a classmate – who closeted Bret was sleeping with – Bret begins to spiral into paranoia. At the center of this paranoia is the new kid, Robert Mallory, who Bret is increasingly convinced is somehow involved with the murder.