I haven’t read a lot of gothic novels (I don’t think) and unfortunately my list will largely be limited to reads documented in Blogger on Books over the last several years – though I do have vague recollections of drafty halls, shadows, and spectres in books from my reading past. Time for a little literary play.
My list (such as it is) using the definition of gothic as stories in dark, picturesque settings with a general sense of dread, often involving a house:
- Interview with the Vampire… hear me out…okay, so I read this all the way back in college (way-way-way pre-Blogger on Books) but…it made an impression… as with The Witching Hour, in which a modern woman has corporeal interactions with an incorporeal being in an old house in New Orleans’ garden district, also by Anne Rice, the moody tome spends a great deal of time in an old house in this atmospheric city with all of the attendant eeriness as a young vampire is born …and then in the dark corners of old Europe… it’s historical fantasy, yes, but there are gothic qualities in the settings and general strangeness in this opener to the Vampire chronicles.
- I’m going to cheat a bit and pair Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte with the book it inspired Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys which tells the tale of the woman in the attic, pre-Jane Eyre. Both books bear the hallmarks of gothic horror, picturesque settings to atmosphere of dread to old houses that seem to have an energy of their own.
- The definitive book by the definitive writer in the horror genre: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. From my review, speaking of the house: “In the end, there’s a sense that once it has ensnared your mind, you can’t really escape it – and for at least one of the characters, it ended quite tragically because of this.”
- My most recent read in this genre is an author Foxes and Fairytales also mentions Daphne Du Maurier (Rebecca), in my case The Rendezvous and Other Stories, about which I said: “But just as it started strong with a compelling whyshedunit triggered by a suicide, the book rallied with the last couple of stories, especially the hauntingly sad, even creepy, final story of the woman who lost her way and, maybe, fell out of time.”
- The White Witch of Rosehall by Herbert G. de Lisser is, like Wide Sargasso Sea, Caribbean-set, historical, and spooky. I said in my review: “One of the book’s strengths is its effective handling of the supernatural elements – there is a spook factor that both the characters and readers are aware of – though with reactions ranging from fear to doubt to something like, well maybe.” (sidebar this makes me think of Derry Sandy’s modern Caribbean supernatural horror-fantasy , Greyborn Rising, which does have a couple of houses where eerie things happen and a generally odd narrative but it’s more of an action-adventure then gothic horror…I think).
- My bonus mention – bonus because it’s not a book – is ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gillman in which you are trapped with a mentally declining character trapped in a room in a house. It is the story on this list that filled me with the most dread.
This Top 5 series is a weekly meme created by Amanda @ Devouring Books. Each week we’ll 5 book featuring the common theme provided. These can be books that we’ve read, or ones that are still on our TBRs. I’ll note beside each one if I’ve read the book yet or not, and provide a […]Top Five Great Gothic Novels — Foxes and Fairy Tales