13 Thriller Books Set In The Woods

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What better setting is there than the woods for a murder mystery? There is probably something but today is all about thriller books set in the woods which are sufficiently creepy.

I’ve read all but three on this list and I can’t wait to read those. I have two of them and will eventually get the third. There are three of my all-time favorite books on this list (No Exit, The Ruins, and Ruthless).

These all are atmospheric and perfect if you want a creepy book set in the woods. This is a mix of YA and regular adult thrillers and a couple that lean more toward horror.

I’ll definitely add more to this list as I find them and I hope I find a lot of them because creepy thrillers set in the woods are my jam. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

  • If you want to listen to some of these, consider trying Audible! You can get your first month free (one free book) plus tons of others they have for free.  Get that Audible deal here.
  • If you’re on more of a budget, try Scribd!  You can get your first month free there. You can read books and listen to audiobooks. It is unlimited (especially the reading) but if you listen to tons of new audiobooks you may be restricted after a few. I don’t listen to enough to confirm this, but I do use Scribd myself and like it a lot. Sign up for Scribd here!
  • Shop my collection of bookish goodies on Etsy! These aren’t my shop items, but other shops I’ve curated into a book-themed collection. Shop my Etsy bookish goodies here!
  • If you want to read more on your Kindle but don’t want to buy books, Kindle Unlimited is a wonderful option. It’s $9.99 a month but if you read a lot and like to read more than just new releases, it could be worth it. Get Kindle Unlimited here!
  • Get $5 off of $25 from BookOutlet! This is a great place to find new books for pretty cheap. They also have sales quite a bit, so keep an eye out for those. I tend to check here for books I want if they’re more expensive other places. They don’t have everything but they do have a lot. Shop BookOutlet here!
  • Thrift Books has become my go-to when I’m looking for a book and want it cheap. It’s great if you like buying used books. With this you can get a free book after spending $30!
  • Shop my book lists here! You can find every book list I have on Bookshop.org (except my monthly round-ups) and I add everything I can but they occasionally won’t have some. I do occasionally add extras though. If any lists are empty, they’ll be filled in shortly! Shop my bookshop.org book lists here.
  • Shopping internationally? Check out Book Depository!

No Exit

Darby is on her way to see her dying mother back home in Utah when she gets caught in a blizzard in the Colorado mountains. She’s forced to wait out the storm at a rest stop with four total strangers.

Trying to find a signal to call home, Darby goes to the parking lot and instead finds a little girl locked in an animal crate in the van parked next to her.

Now she is determined to find a way to get the girl out of the van and escape since one of her fellow travelers is a kidnapper. She has to decide who she can trust now.

This is one of my favorite books ever and most of it technically takes place in a rest area but it’s in the middle of nowhere so I’m counting it as a woodsy thriller book.

Dead of Winter

I got an ARC of this from Net Galley and I’m reading it right now! So far I really like it but I’ll update in my March round-up post. My only major complaint so far is who joins a tour group to stay at one hotel with no activities for two weeks? Just go on your own?

Christa and her boyfriend Kiernan joined a tour group heading into the Rocky Mountains and she hopes it’s her chance to move forward, leaving the ghosts of her past behind.

A snowstorm sweeps through the region leaving them stranded in an abandoned cabin. They plan to just wait out the storm but on the first morning, they realize their guide is missing. They go out to look for him and find his severed head up in a tree. Now she is trapped with eight strangers and one of them is a killer.

The Woods are Always Watching

Neena and Josie were outsiders in high school but they always had each other. Now, as college approaches, they’re going to lose that, too, as Neena gets ready to move away.

They have one last chance to spend time together and settle on a three-day backpacking trip in the Pisgah National Forest.

They take an off-trail detour to get back that turns into a living nightmare.

I won’t lie, I didn’t love the second half of this one but I was definitely freaked out before we actually met the villain.

Five Total Strangers

Mira desperately needs to get home but a blizzard traps her at the airport after her connecting flight indefinitely. Then Harper, her glamorous seatmate from the flight, offers her a ride. Harper and her three friends can drop Mira off on their way home.

Once they set off, she realizes one of them is hiding something. The roads go from slippery to terrifying when things start disappearing and she realizes someone in the car is lying. Will she make it home or will the nightmare turn fatal?

This is a YA thriller book set in the woods and I enjoyed it. It’s not 10/10 but it’s a fun woodsy read.

These Silent Woods

This is another one I would love to read! Cooper and his young daughter Finch have lived isolated in his cabin in the northern Appalachian woods for eight years. It’s exactly how he wants it because he has a lot to hide.

Scotland, a local hermit, and Jake, Cooper’s old friend, are the only two people who know they exist. Every winter Jake visits to bring supplies but this year he didn’t show up which set off an irreversible chain of events showing how precarious their position really is.

The boundaries of their safe haven are blurred when one day, a stranger wanders into their woods. Finch develops an obsession with the stranger that could put them all in danger and Cooper is forced to face the sins of his past to keep them safe.

Little Heaven

A trio of mismatched mercenaries are hired by Ellen for a seemingly simple task: to check on her nephew who may be taken against his will to a backwoods settlement in New Mexico called Little Heaven, a religious cult.

As soon as they arrive things start to get strange, particularly from the Black Rock. Paranoia sets in and escape routes are cut off as the settlement spirals toward madness.

Everyone present is forced to fight back as the closest thing to hell invades Little Heaven.

Harrow County

Emmy always knew ghosts and monsters prowled the woods near her house but on the night of her 18th birthday, she learns she’s connected to them in a way she never imagined.

I really liked this one and would definitely recommend reading it in the dark. It’s a great creepy graphic novel to read in autumn.

The Troop

Every year, Tim Riggs leads a group of scouts on a camping trip near Prince Edward Island. But this year was different.

A horrendously hungry, pale, and skinny man shows up on the island and exposes them all to the nightmare bioengineered bug. It’s a harrowing struggle for survival to fight infection and each other.

I read this one last year and it’s very creepy! If you’re looking for horror books that will actually scare you, this is a good option.

The Memory Wood

Elijah has never had a friend in his twelve years of life so when he finds Elissa in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police.

He knows it can end. She isn’t even the first girl he’s found in the Memory Wood.

As things escalate with her abductor, she realizes outsmarting Elijah is her only hope of surviving.

I would really like to read this one, it sounds super interesting.

Wilder Girls

Eighteen months ago the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine when the Tox hit.

Teachers were dying one by one, but then the students started getting infected and were left to fend for themselves on their island home.

They don’t dare wander from the school’s fence where the woods have become wild and dangerous from the Tox as they wait for a cure.

But Hetty will break quarantine and brave the horrors beyond the fence to find Byatt where she learns there is more to their life at Raxter than she ever imagined.


On Marin’s island, the day lasts for fourteen years, the night lasts for fourteen more. The sun is going down and everyone is preparing to leave for the Desert Lands. They prepare the houses with strange rituals that none of the adults will discuss.

Just as the ships are preparing to leave, Line, Marin, and her brother’s best friend is found to be missing. They run off to find him since they’re the only ones that know the truth of where he is. But night is falling, the island is changing, and when they return to the ships, it may be too late.

This is kind of fantasy/thriller but its sufficiently creepy and set in the woods so I’m counting it.


Ruth Carver is ambitious, tough, and ruthless, so when she wakes up in a truck bed with a concussion, she will do whatever it takes to get away. 

When the blindfold comes off in a rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she comes face to face with the man who thinks he needs to teach her a lesson, just like the six girls before.  Ruth escapes into the wilderness, but her captor is hot on her trail and that is when the real battle begins and she has to decide how far she’ll go to survive.

I loved this book. It’s a favorite for sure and one I might even read again soon.

The Ruins

A group of four American friends are on vacation in Mexico when they meet some Greeks, Pablo, Juan, and Don Quixote, and a German, Mathias.

Mathias’s brother is missing after looking for some ruins with an archaeologist he met so the Americans and Pablo set out to look for the ruins and his brother. They get to Coba and what starts as a fun day trip slowly turns into an inescapable nightmare leaving the group hopeless in the jungle fighting the terrifying presence that lurks on the hill.

I loved this one. I understand how people don’t but I loved it, and the ending. So good! It’s one of my favorite books ever.

Have you read any of these thriller books set in the woods? Which ones? Any others I should check out?

Author: Megan Johnson

I'm Megan, a cheesehead at heart currently residing in the Sunshine State. You can probably find me reading, watching Forensic Files, or both.

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