I am always talking about how much I love Gothic fiction, but what makes a book Gothic? I am not sure that I even have a full understanding of the genre, despite how much I love it.
It has evolved over the years, but I found this list of the top ten elements of Gothic Literature to be very helpful. The reason I gravitate towards the genre is that it is largely focused on setting and atmosphere. There is nothing I love more than an atmospheric novel set in a spooky house or that has a layer of tension where the mystery slowly builds.
Today, I am going to share some of my favourite Gothic novels (or what I believe to be Gothic novels), as well as a few that are on my TBR.
Though I had read some Gothic novels before picking up The Essex Serpent, it is the book that really made me fall in love with the genre. Sarah Perry’s writing is so lush and, as is typical of the genre, both The Essex Serpent and Melmoth have a strong sense of place. They also have a mystery woven in and you never quite know what is true and what is fiction.
This is probably an obvious choice, as the word Gothic is right there in the title. Mexican Gothic takes place in one of the weirdest houses I have ever read about, to the point where it almost feels alive. You are constantly questioning whether or not there is a supernatural element to the story or if something completely different was going on in this house and with these characters.
I have not read a great deal of classic Gothic literature, but I hope to change that this month! I have plans to read both Jane Eyre and Rebecca. One classic Gothic novel I have read is We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which is a book I think about often. It such a strange book with a focus on sisterhood. Shirley Jackson is a master at the genre, and I also have The Haunting of Hill House on my TBR.
Diane Setterfield is such a talented author and The Thirteenth Tale is a book that has stayed with me years after reading it. This is a book about books that also has ghosts and is extremely atmospheric- what more could you ask for!?
Bitter Orange might be my favourite book on this list. It takes place in the dead of summer and you can physically feel the heat as you are reading. The tension slowly builds and there are many reveals throughout the novel. I would describe this book as suffocating, but in the best way possible!
I have seen a few reviewers say that Horrid is Gothic, and that is what really sold me on it! I know that a spooky house is involved, and that is all I need to know!
The Foundling is about a woman who has not left her home in a decade and she has a mysterious past. Sounds like my kind of read!
I have heard amazing things about Jess Kidd’s novels, and I believe they all have Gothic themes. I really could have put any of them on this list because I want to read them all, but the following line from the synopsis is why I want to read Things in Jars first:
Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary.
Kate Morton is another author whose books I have been meaning to read for years- I even own a few! She has quite an extensive backlist, but I believe quite a few have Gothic themes. The Forgotten Garden is one I own and one I have heard amazing things about and is highly rated on Goodreads.
Have you read any Gothic fiction? I would love recommendations!