Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If You Like...

One of my most favorite genres is that of the gothic novel. The heightened suspense, the way information is slowly revealed, the uncertainty of the veracity of said information, I love it all. It takes a talented writer to create the atmosphere needed to make a great gothic story. It has to be the perfect blend of creepiness and beauty, otherwise you start to slip into the genre of horror story or it becomes simply a caricature. Without further ado, here are some of my favorites to get you started.

1. Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Brönte. This is the classic gothic romance novel. It involves an orphaned girl, a handsome and surly single father, and a house with a secret. It can get a bit wordy in places and it has a slow start, but once the action moves to Mr. Rochester's house it starts getting good.

 Just a little taste: "I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” 

2. Rebecca  by Daphne du Maurier. This book is deliciously creepy right from the get go. The book opens with our narrator and her husband far from home. We get a picture of them set in our mind, then Ms. du Maurier precedes to undo our preconceived notions. We find out that Rebecca was the husband's first wife (she is now deceased). Exactly who was Rebecca? Everyone has a different opinion and our protagonist must find the answer for herself, even as she fights to create her own identity and not to succumb to the ever-present memory of Rebecca. 

Just a little taste“We can never go back again, that much is certain. The past is still close to us. The things we have tried to forget and put behind us would stir again, and that sense of fear, of furtive unrest, struggling at length to blind unreasoning panic - now mercifully stilled, thank God - might in some manner unforeseen become a living companion as it had before.” 

3. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. My favorite thing about this book is the characters. You simply do not know who to trust. The descriptions of the countryside, the house, and the characters are so vivid it is as if you are there, right beside the heroine. Few people can create an atmosphere the way Mary Stewart can. 

Just a little taste:  “I'm very much to blame for not seeing it before, but who on earth goes about suspecting an impossible outlandish thing like murder? That's something that happens in books, not among people you know.” 

4. The Distant Hours  by Kate Morton. Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors. I would read the phone book if she wrote it. Her writing style is so lyrical and unique. This books spans two generations and multiple relationships. The story focuses on three sisters and their relationships with each other, their lovers, and their father. One could almost say the sisters' house is a character all of its own. It has kept its secrets for a long time and is slow in giving them up. 

Just a little taste: "It was the sibling thing, I suppose. I was fascinated by the intricate tangle of love and duty and resentment that tied them together. The glances they exchanged; the complicated balance of power established over decades; the games I would never play with rules I would never fully understand. And perhaps that was key: they were such a natural group that they made me feel remarkably singular by comparison. To watch them together was to know strongly, painfully, all that I'd been missing.” 

Those are just a few of my favorites. What about y'all? Any you would add to the list?


  1. One of my favorite gothic novels would be have to Wuthering Heights. I loved the complexity of the characters. I also enjoyed Jane Eyre.

    I haven't read any of the other ones on your list but I will when I am done with finals. :)

  2. I need to re-read Wuthering Heights. I read it in high school and didn't like it. I don't think I had lived enough of life yet to appreciate it lol

    1. I think I actually borrowed your copy when I had to read Wuthering Heights in high school, JMo! It was pretty obvious you didn't like it - your notes in the margins were cracking me up!

  3. I haven't read it yet, but I've heard that The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is similar in terms of tone to a few of these. Have you read that one? It's on my list to try!

    1. I have read it, but it wasn't my favorite. It really didn't make an impression; I'm having a hard time even remembering it and I read it last year lol.