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There’s something both exciting and terrifying about psychic powers. To be able to see through walls, move things without touching them, read minds, hypnotize people…well, the list goes on and on. The titles I’ve collected for you today all have to do with some form of mental powers. Whether the character is a hypnotist, a psychic, or otherwise supernaturally gifted, I hope you find something here to enjoy!

2023 Reading Challenge, these books will complete the prompt: “A book about a psychic, mesmerist, or hypnotist”

Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar (Edgar Allan Poe) We’ll start this off with a chilling short story (for the busy reader). Our unnamed narrator reveals that he has performed a remarkable experiment in hypnotism. Taking his friend, M. Valdemar, who is at the point of death, the narrator plunges him into a hypnotic trance just before he dies. What follows is the horrifying and gruesome story of Valdemar’s condition, following his death.

The Shining (Stephen King) Writer and recovering alcoholic, Jack Torrance, takes a new job working as the winter caretaker at the Overlook Hotel, a position which will involve staying at the hotel all winter, and eventually getting snowed in. To make matters worse, it is clear that Jack’s son Danny has some sort of psychic gift, called “the Shining,” and there are forces at work at the Overlook that will do everything they can to get him and keep him there, forever.

Trilby (George du Maurier) Diva Trilby O’Ferrall falls under the powerful spell of her manipulative mentor, Svengali, who uses hypnosis in order to transform her from a tone-deaf laundrywoman to a beautiful and talented singer by putting her into a powerful trance every time she goes on stage.

The Parasite (Arthur Conan Doyle) Another chilling short story, this one features a young man who becomes deeply entrenched in the field of physiology and the occult. In order to study the physical aspects of mesmerism, our narrator, Austin Gilroy, agrees to be put into a hypnotic trance by Miss Penclosa, a terrifying psychic. But, when she falls in love with him and Gilroy spurns her affections, he finds her exerting her hypnotic force upon him, forcing him to do things that he never would have done.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story (Lianne Moriarty) Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. Life is good, except for a lack of a solid love-life. Not that she’s bitter or anything. But, then she meets Patrick. Handsome, single, and best of all, he actually likes her back! But, there’s one problem, he tells her: he’s being stalked by his ex. But, that’s okay to Ellen. In fact, it only makes him more attractive–he’s worth stalking. Ellen decides she would love to meet this stalker…not realizing that she already has.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway (Ruth Ware) Hal is a psychic working on the docks. Not that she has any legitimate psychic powers, of course, but she has a real knack for reading people. When a letter arrives, bequeathing her a substantial inheritance, Hal quickly realizes that it was sent to the wrong person. But, she’s in desperate need of money, especially now that she has to pay off a ruthless loan shark who is coming to collect. Hal has conned people before and she’s confident that she can do it again– all she needs to do is pretend that she’s the real Harriet Westaway, and the fortune is hers. But, nothing is ever easy, and Hal soon realizes that she’s in greater danger than before.


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.