It may seem easy for an author to amass 2000+ ratings on Goodreads. After all, look at how many these books have (I chose a handful of my favorites):
The Stand (412886), Jane Eyre (1,164,015!), Empire Falls (86,492), Deliverance (42,487), even The Girls – which was just released on June 14th – has 5,967.
The following were accurate when I wrote the list (July 3, 2016) and they are woefully underrated, yet I’d highly recommend them!
Daredevils by Shawn Vestal (223). A teenager is swiftly married off as a sister wife to a fundmentalist with a wife and a horde of children. She meets his nephew and they try to make a break for it.
Donnybrook by Frank Bill (920). Three days. Twenty men. One wire ring fence in the middle of nowhere. Bare-knuckled fighting until the last man is left standing.
The Rathbones by Janice Clark (1111). A mysterious whaling family with an even more mysterious family history is slowly revealed by the diminutive lady of the house.
Hitchers by Will McIntosh (448). After a terrorist attack, people find themselves talking in others’ voices. It turns out dead souls are hitching a ride on the living. Now to get the dead back to Deadland…
The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan (1023). “A young sheriff and a hardened killer form an uneasy and complicated bond in this mesmerizing first novel set on the plains of Montana…”
The Marauders by Tom Cooper (1447). Funnier than any novel set in post-Katrina Louisiana has a right to be.
A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrienne Harun (623). “In this intoxicatingly lush debut novel, Adrianne Harun weaves together folklore, mythology, and elements of magical realism to create a compelling and unsettling portrait of life in a dead-end town.”
Smonk by Tom Franklin (808). Smonk. How would you describe Smonk…? “Syphilitic, consumptive, gouty and goitered, Smonk is also an expert with explosives and knives. He abhors horses, goats and the Irish. Every Saturday night for a year he’s been riding his mule into Old Texas, destroying property, killing livestock, seducing women, cheating and beating men—all from behind the twin barrels of his Winchester 45-70 caliber over and under rifle. At last the desperate citizens of the town, themselves harboring a terrible secret, put Smonk on trial, with disastrous and shocking results.”
Only Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington (1,028). Aside from all the Neil Young references, this novel is worth reading for the southern Gothic mystery goodness.
Haints Stay by Colin Winette (226). Oddly humorous for the western, reimagined.
For more undervalued books, visit these lists.