Spooky season is here and, to me, that means one thing: Gothic reads. I’m not a huge fan of straight up horror, much preferring the subtly, suspense and dark intrigue that the Gothic genre gives.
So, to celebrate all things Halloween, here’s my list of…
5 Gothic novels you MUST read
/ Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Starting with a classic: Wuthering Heights is a tale of the passionate yet highly disturbing romance between Heathcliffe and Cathy Linton (nee Earnshaw). Their love is intense – with consequences for them both. Set on the dramatic, isolated, weather-beaten Yorkshire moors, there is menace, there are visions, there are tempers, there is a story that’s so iconic it has its own song.
/ We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Featuring one of my favourite characters, Merricat. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a dark story of family ties. Sisters Mary Katherine (Merricat) and Constance Blackwood become the village pariahs after the rest of their family die, leaving them alone in their crumbling family home, with their sinister secrets and lies. The last book by the brilliant Shirley Jackson, she wrote it while she was suffering from agoraphobia and her paranoia comes across in these pages.
/ Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A Gothic story but make it Mexican. Mexican Gothic is a homage to the great Gothic tales. You’ll pick up vibes of Dracula, The Fall of the House of Usher and lots of direct references scattered throughout, especially to the above mentioned Heights and Mary Shelley.
Set in 1950s Mexico, Noemi Taboadas is our heroine. A feminist when women were very much supposed to be in their place, she wonderfully drives this book. When she finds herself in her cousin’s isolated home with her cousin’s new husband and his more than a little sinister family, strange things start to happen. But what exactly is going on in High Place? Noemi is going to find out. Every gruesome detail.
/ Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
This novel ticks all the Gothic boxes, while giving us a unique and riveting story. 16-year old Maud witnesses her father descend into madness, ending with him in an insane asylum. Wakenhyrst is her story of what happened and the consequences. Steeped in history, folklore, devil-infused paintings and the blurred lines of what is real and what is imaginary. It’s brilliant.
/ The Corset by Laura Purcell
Set in Victorian London, the suspense and atmosphere just thrums from The Corset. Told from the point-of-view of two women: 16-year-old Ruth Butterham, accused of murder and in prison awaiting her trial and 25-year-old Dorothea Truelove, a wealthy, compassionate woman who visits prisoners as part of her charity work.
Seamstress Ruth has had an unsettling life and she believes that she is responsible for many deaths due to a dark power she possesses. So, is Ruth delusional and confused, or is something else really happening? A real visceral story that grabs you from page 1.
What Gothic novels would you add to this list? Let me know!