Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Epistolary Style Novels for National Letter Writing Day!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blog meme now hosted by Jana over at The Artsy Reader Girl!

This week's topic is: FreebieEpistolary Style Novels

This week's topic was a freebie, and apparently–thanks to one of those completely random and made up holidays (who comes up with these??)–today is National Letter Writing Day! Because of that, I decided to create a list of books written in epistolary/epistolary-adjacent format. In case you are wondering what the heck epistolary format is, it typically refers to stories that are written in the form of letters, but also can include books written as diary entries, records, etc. As you will see, I'm working a little loosely with the epistolary definition in order to include a nice variety of books, but I think that's okay since I've just made up this week's theme anyway. Now, let's check out some books! 


Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula is probably the most classic of the epistolary novels on this list, as it is written in letters. I think I've heard a number of people consider this book a bit boring, but I actually think the format of journal entries, letters, newspaper clippings, etc. helps add a bit of a intrigue to the story by format alone. Also, it's a great story!

The Turn of the Key

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
The Turn of the Key's epistolary format is what I think really helped make it as compelling as it was. The story is mainly told via the main character's desperate letters to a lawyer as she sits in prison awaiting trial. How captivating does that sound? And it was! I really enjoyed this book. 

I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
I Capture the Castle is not told via letters, but it is told through the diary entries of our main characters, Cassandra. This was a really enjoyable story that was so ridiculously readable that it's hard not to just keep reading. Cassandra tells her journal all about her family and life living at a castle, and sometimes it's a little weird, but it's also very fun. 

The Historian

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
This would be a pretty ideal Dracula follow-up, and I really adore this book. Kostova uses the epistolary style largely through letters and journals, and even the way in which the protagonist tells her narrative feels as though it is more of a journal entry. 

The Woman in White

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White does not have quite as many letters as some of these previous books do, but it is written in a somewhat modified style from various characters who recount their perspectives of the events of this book. I loved the way this book was written and think it really added so much to the mystery and intrigue.

 Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
This book isn't exactly the most epistolary, but some parts are indeed written as a letter to anther, and I think this format lends itself perfectly to the sort of creepy and mysterious atmosphere that permeates this book. 

The Supernatural Enhancements 
The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Canto
This book has a lot of mixed media elements in it, and I think the letters and other written documents really complement the more mysterious nature of this book as well. (I think I'm starting to notice a bit of a pattern with the epistolary format and the style of novel it works well in!) This is one that I read quite a number of years ago and really need/want to re-read soon, because my memory is a bit fuzzy at this point. 

 The Justice of Kings (Empire of the Wolf, #1)
The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan
This one is not specifically a journal or diary entry, but the way it's written is one of those narratives where the it is apparent that the narrator is writing this story at a later date, which therefore makes it feel somewhat like a journal to me. Also, this is an awesome new fantasy that comes out next year so you can find out what I mean for yourself!

The Dead House
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
This young adult horror is told predominately from a girl's diary entries, although the diary itself seems to be from a girl who doesn't exactly exist. There are also transcribed videos, interviews, and emails that make of the rest of this book, and I think Kurtagich did a great job with this unique storytelling format. 

Terrier (Beka Cooper, #1)

Terrier (Beka Cooper #1) by Tamora Pierce
Terrier is told mainly through journal entries, and I think this style worked really well for this particular story, despite the fact that it can be a difficult style. Tamora Pierce did a great job with this journal style entry, even if you're someone who doesn't tend to like the style. 

Have you read any of these books? What epistolary style novels do you like?


  1. Fun topic! I enjoy epistolary novels. I think they're actually making kind of a comeback, as more and more authors are including text messages, podcasts, emails, etc. as alternate ways to tell a story or make a story more interesting.

    Happy TTT!

    1. That's true, there's definitely an evolution of epistolary styles nowadays!

  2. I never knew Dracula was an epistolary novel! I'm not a massive fan of the format, I find that it makes me feel slightly disconnected from the story.
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2021/12/07/top-ten-tuesday-345/

    1. Yeah, I totally get that. It has to be done really carefully to work well.

  3. What an interesting take on this week's topic! Novels by Richard Paul Evans, while not strictly epistolary, fall loosely into the category and are always uplifting, inspiring reads with a generous dose of hope. Thanks for sharing!

    My post:

    1. I actually think I read one of his books ages ago, but I don't remember which one. They sound great!

  4. The Turn of the Key sounds good! I need to put that on my TBR. I love books that are written in epistolary style. The ones I read are usually romances, so it's fun to see some other choices.

  5. The Turn of the Key sounds great!

    My freebie is here: https://fiftytwo.blog/2021/12/07/ttt-ten-books-i-feel-like-everyone-has-read-but-me/

    Happy TTT!

  6. I read I Capture the Castle this year and absolutely loved it. I DNf-ed The Historian, I was very bored by it honestly. Happy reading! My TTT https://readwithstefani.com/10-middle-grade-fantasy-books-set-in-winter-and-christmas-book-recommendations/

    1. I do not blame you for finding it boring, haha, it's super slow!

  7. The Turn of the Key does sound good!

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.

  8. I really enjoyed the Griffin and Sabine books. The fact that you can actally pull the letters out of the envelopes and read them is awesome! Thank you for this post, I now have new books to check out.

  9. The only one I read on your list is The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which I don't even recall letters but then I didn't really like it much. It was rather short.

    The one book that I like that was in epistolary style is Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. It was a bit ridiculous because the letters of the alphabet keeps getting removed so the letters are written without certain alphabets and toward the end of the book, the letters are a bit weirdly written because of lack of letters. It was a fun read.

    Have a lovely day.

    1. That sounds like such an interesting book! I'll have to check it out, sounds very unique.

  10. I read Jekyll and Hyde. I like epistolary style novels. I loved Things We Didn't Say by Amy Lynn Greene that came out last year. https://cindysbookcorner.blogspot.com/2021/12/top-ten-tuesday-free-little-library.html

  11. The Historian is one of my favorite books, and We Capture the Castle is such a charming story!

  12. I never knew that Dracula was written in this style. I never picked it up, because I don't do well with creepy or spooky books.

    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  13. Before blogging I didn't even know about epistolary type books lol but I'm glad I discovered them! Although I had read Dracula so I guess I had and didn't know it. :) Anyway... The dead House looks like a trip, I was looking at another of her books so that one kinda leapt out at me.

  14. I love epistolary style books, but I'm not sure I could come up with a list like this! Great idea😁

  15. I adore I Capture the Castle! I keep telling myself that I'm going to get to Dracula soon, and I really am determined to do so at some point; I'm just not sure I'll actually do it anytime in the near future. One can hope though.

    Here's my TTT: https://ofpensandswords.com/top-ten-books-to-read-if-you-love-fairytales/