Now, I love Autumn, and I love October, but I hate Halloween and I stopped really reading and watching horror years ago. However, I still wanted to do a Top Five Friday post with a traditional October theme, so I settled on my favourite Gothic stories!
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Not only is Frankenstein a great Gothic novel, but it is the first published sci-fi novel. I love the story of how Shelley ended up writing this novel just as much as I love the novel itself. How, one stormy night in Geneva, Switzerland, Mary Shelley, her husband Percy and, Lord Byron’s talks of galvanism and the occult turns into a horror story writing competition. The novel follows Victor Frankenstein in his quest to create life by piecing together body parts and bringing them to life with electricity. However, it doesn’t quite work out the way he imagined it would…
Like most people who have read Frankenstein I first read it because I was studying it at school. Throughout my education I’ve studied the novel around four times, so I’ve read it quite a few times at this point! Now I must admit, as I’ve got older and studied it more the more I grew to love the book. There are just so many different layers to the novel, with many different narrators, that you initially don’t realise if you just know of the several adaptations that have come from this novel now.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beloved is inspired by the true story of Margaret Garner a black woman who escaped slavery to Ohio with her family. However, they were ultimately found and she made the difficult decision to kill her two-year-old daughter so she wouldn’t be subjected to life in slavery. In Beloved we meet Sethe, a former enslaved woman who is now living with her 18-year-old daughter in a house that is haunted by a spirit who is believed to be the ghost of Sethe’s eldest daughter.
Okay, so this might not be a Gothic novel in the classic sense however as I came across it during my Gothic to Goth module I’m adding it to the list! This was such a beautiful, haunting, novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and analysing. Beloved does an excellent job of combining gothic fantasy with the real history of slavery in the U.S. with fantastic and unforgettable characters.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories is a collection of dark, feminist, fairytales with a seductive twist. Whilst the tales draw upon classic favourites such as “Beauty and the Beast”, “Red Riding Hood” and “Puss in Boots”, they look very different with Carter’s wonderful retelling.
I was lucky enough to study The Bloody Chamber during school, and I’m thrilled I did because otherwise I might not have ever come across this! I adore all of the stories in this collection, I think my favourite one was The Snow Child, it was the first one that I read and it just stuck with me after that. The collection’s titular story, The Bloody Chamber, is a great opening to set the scene for the rest of the collection with a young virgin girl marrying a much older, mysterious, man with a dark secret.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman
Again, another entry that isn’t immediately what some people might think of as Gothic but GoodReads is telling me it’s Gothic so we’re running with it. This story explores the treatment of mental illness in women in the 19th century through diary entries. However, the treatment of being confined to a room slowly sees our protagonist spiral even more…
I came across The Yellow Wallpaper when I had just finished my A-Levels and I wanted to prepare for my degree by reading generic texts that are usually found on university reading lists. Whilst it’s only a short story it’s impact is no less than a full novel. The diary format is the perfect way to tell this story, it was personal and the reader witnessed the extent of her mind unravelling.
Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is revered as one of the best American writers in Gothic fiction, or even the best. I particularly love his short stories as they are brilliantly able to unsettle the reader despite only using a few pages.
My first experience of Edgar Allan Poe was in an episode of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror when they recreated The Raven. To this day it is still my favourite Edgar Allan Poe work, however, it isn’t one that is included in Selected Tales so I’m sort of cheating by mentioning it. However, I also love many of his other works, hence the addition! From his short stories, I think The Tell-Tale Heart or The Murders of the Rue Morgue are my favourites and ones that I definitely recommend!
Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? What are your favourite Gothic reads? Let me know in the comments!