This may seem like a niche top 5 but I have always been fascinated by identical twins. When they crop up in a book I’m reading, my interest is always sparked just that little bit more. Hence this list I’ve compiled!
If you also like reading books that feature identical twins, or now realise you maybe haven’t read any that do – take a look!
5 books with identical twins as lead characters
/ The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
Iris and Rose work in a doll shop, making the clothes for and painting the faces onto the dolls. Iris catches the eye of two men – an artist and a taxidermist – for very different reasons.
This is a dark yet often beautiful story that weaves the gritty reality of Victorian London with art, love and brilliantly crafted characters that are genuine, loving and deeply disturbing. An excellent mix.
/ The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Stella and Desiree Vignes are born in Mallard, Louisiana. It is a town of light-skinned black people, so light-skinned that when the twins are teenagers, Stella chooses to pass as white. Desiree does not.
Themes of identity, race, family ties and belonging feature strongly throughout this great read. Desiree is heartbroken when Stella abandons her, and her roots, to live her new life, while Stella lives in fear of her truth being revealed and sacrifices all her family ties for white privilege. It is wholly evocative, thought-provoking and truly heart-capturing.
/ The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A haunting and Gothic story that contains many elements I love: Identical twins (obviously) Adeline and Emmeline, hidden family secrets, an ambiguous narrator and a story that slowly and enticingly unravels itself. At its heart, The Thirteenth Tale is a classic ‘character has an incurable illness so decides to spill their deepest secrets’ story and I am here for it.
Wonderfully written, suspenseful, with genuine moments of mouth-open wonder and heart-breaking tragedy, all rounded off with an intriguing plot line I didn’t see coming.
/ The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
Historical fiction at its best. Set in 1941, this is the story of Dot and Con and their encounter with Italian prisoner’s of war, who were sent to a remote island just off Orkney, Scotland.
It is a beautiful story that blends facts and real events (the amazing Italian chapel) with the poetic licence of fiction and it really captivated me. Mix in Caroline Lea’s amazing ability to weave an emotive love story – both the romantic kind and the one between sisters – and I’m addicted!
/ Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone
This is a story about identical mirror twins who have a dark, damaged childhood, re-start their lives aged 12 and are in love with the same man.
If that isn’t enough to hook you in, it’s all set to a deliciously Gothic backdrop of 36 Westeryk Road in Scotland – a huge house with an imaginatively creative secret – Mirrorland. SURELY that is enough to make you add this book to your TBR list immediately?
I’ll my twins in literature special end with a special shout out to the first set of identical twins I met in fiction – Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield from the iconic Sweet Valley High series by Francine Pascal. I LOVED these books growing up (Sweet Valley Twins too) and they played a big role in cementing my love of reading.
So tell me – who are your favourite fictional twins?