I consider myself a gothic writer, novelist, and general life-liver. I love all things dark and mysterious and spend a good part of my impressionable youth reading that kind of literature. “Gothic” is a lifestyle, a mindset, and an aesthetic.
But what exactly is gothic? According to Google: “The adjective gothic describes something that is characterized by mystery, horror, and gloom — especially in literature. Gothic literature combines the genres of romance and horror. Some famous writers of Gothic fiction include Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe.”
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” - Edgar Allan Poe
Gothic works tend to carry specific themes, including but not limited to, the unreliable narrator, acute emphasis on intense emotions, and the pairing of joy and terror, death and love. Much of gothic literature also includes science fiction, making the two genres kind of like cousins (looking at you, Frankenstein).
The paranormal is also a huge influence in gothic literature. Hauntings, apparitions, and supernatural occurrences of all kinds can make the foundation for an amazing gothic tale. Through in a tragic past or two and you are ready to go.
Whether you are new to the gothic world or consider yourself having been birthed a goth from the womb, I thought I would share some books perfect for expanding your dark horizons. I’ll cover some classics and some more modern stories to shake things up. But don’t just take my word for it—unreliable narrator and all…
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. The story of Victor Frankenstein and the monstrous creature he created has held readers spellbound ever since it was published two centuries ago. On the surface, it is a novel of tense and steadily mounting horror; but on a more profound level, it offers searching illumination of the human condition in its portrayal of a scientist who oversteps the bounds of conscience, and of a monster brought to life in an alien world, ever more desperately attempting to escape the torture of his solitude. A novel of hallucinatory intensity, Frankenstein represents one of the most striking flowerings of the Romantic imagination.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Set on the bleak moors of Yorkshire, Lockwood is forced to seek shelter at Wuthering Heights, the home of his new landlord, Heathcliff. The intense and wildly passionate Heathcliff tells the story of his life, his all-consuming love for Catherine Earnshaw and the doomed outcome of that relationship, leading to his revenge. Poetic, complex and grand in its scope, Emily Brontë's masterpiece is considered one of the most unique gothic novels of its time.
“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” - Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights