6 Modern Novels That Tell a Story Within A Story

There’s nothing like cuddling up with a good book. But it would be even better if you could have two-in-one. Read on for some embedded narrative recommendations!

Adult Fiction Fantasy Fiction Recommendations Thriller & Mystery
An open book with yellow letters flying out of the pages. Book covers for "The Thirteenth Tale", "Inkheart", and "Good Omens" are in the center of the image.

From nail-biting thrillers to hidden romance tales, the story-within-a-story trope is an ever-popular method of storytelling. Also known as an embedded narrative, it allows authors to flex their creative muscles by creating two varying storylines that combine into one cohesive narrative. It adds to the world that has been created by giving characters a hobby that all book lovers know well. So, if you love stories like The Princess Bride, this is the article for you! Continue reading to discover some hidden gems of the embedded narrative process.

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

A woman lies on her back in bed with her face towards the view. A book lies on her chest with a silhouette of a castle in the background.

Preferring to spend her days in the school library, Delilah is a bit of a loner. But Prince Oliver from her favorite book, Between the Lines, speaks to her as no real person can…Until he actually speaks to her.

More than the figment of the author’s fascination, Prince Oliver is a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates his pre-determined fate. He’s sure that the real world has more for him. And Delilah just may be the key to his freedom.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

An angel sits against a black background in the center of the cover with an open book and halo above their head. "Good Omens" is written in yellow text at the bottom of the cover with "Terry Pratchett" and "Neil Gaiman" in yellow at the top.

Since the beginning, it was God’s ineffable plan that the world should end. And Agnes Nutter, author of the only completely accurate prophecies that were written just before she exploded, purported that the world will end next Saturday. Just before dinner.

But as the armies of Good and Evil prepare, a fussy angel and a fast-living demon who have lived amongst the mortals since the creation, aren’t quite ready to see the world end and seek to stop it by teaching the harbinger of the apocalypse, the antichrist, to see the goodness in the world.

Except someone has misplaced him.


The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

"The Woman in the Library" is written in white across the cover. A book is opened by two hands in the center of the image as dust flys from between the pages.

For many, the library is a place for peace, quiet, and good books.

Until a woman’s horrified scream breaks it.

As investigators work out who did it, four strangers pass the time in conversation and strike up friendships. All four were in the room where the murder occurred. And one of them is the murderer.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

A white cutout of a girl is in the center of the cover with three cutout figures on the sides. A black castle stands in the background. An open book with red pages is below the figure.

As Meggie’s father reads “Inkheart,” the evil ruler from the story jumps from the book and into their living room. Smacked into the middle of an adventure she’s only read about; Meggie must learn to control the magic that has created this nightmare, for only she can change the course of the story that has changed her life.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

A key-hole shaped door in a brownish-yellow wall. A blue sky and ocean with ships appears just beyond.

When grad student Zachary Ezra Rollins discovers a mysterious book, he realizes that it is a story of his own life. Following the novel’s three clues, he’s led to a masquerade party in New York before being led to a secret doorway to an ancient library under the earth’s surface. Here he finds lost cities, seas, lovers, and whispers from the dead. With Mirabel, a pink-haired protector of this beautiful place, and Dorian, a handsome man with shifting alliances, Zachary learns to find his purpose in fiction and reality.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A stack of old books is the background. "The Thirteenth Tale" is written in yellow text.

After 60 years, popular author Vida Winter is ready to reveal her extraordinary existence and the tragic past she has kept hidden. Calling on young biographer, Margaret Lea, Vida reveals the life she meant to leave buried. With tales filled with gothic strangeness, the beautiful, the wily, a garden, and a fire, Margaret and Vida finally confront the ghosts that have haunted them and transformed them.

Click here to explore other books by inspiring storytellers.

Browse these books and more on our Writer Inspiration shelf on Bookshop!