Our editors handpick the products that we feature. We may earn commission from the links on this page.

29 Best Gothic Novels of All Time, Including Rebecca

Talk about a #mood.

books gothic fiction

Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto , published in 1764, is believed to be the first Gothic book —though Walpole's use of the word " Gothic" meant "medieval ." "What the term Gothic meant then is very different to what we understand by it now," Dr. Xavier Aldana Reyes , another founding member of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies, says. Following a boom in popularity in the Victorian Era , which saw defining works like Dracula and Frankenstein published, the Gothic novel continued to evolve through the 21st century. Modern Gothic books, including 2020's Mexican Gothic , are in conversation with years of tradition.

Here, the experts recommend the best Gothic novels and writers of all time, including offerings for young adults .

books gothic fiction

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

First published in 1764,  The Castle of Otranto is widely considered the "first" Gothic novel, even though it predated Gothic literature's renaissance during the Victorian Era by a century. The Castle of Otranto  has it all: In a far-off Medieval realm, an evil prince plans to wed his son's widow, and trap her in his castle. 

books gothic fiction

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula , one of the ultimate vampire novels,   has lent itself to countless adaptations—precisely, Dr. Ní Fhlainn says, because it's a Gothic novel. " Dracula is always talked about by other characters he's come into contact with, but you never fully get to know him," she says. His mysteriousness makes him Gothic; the fact that he's a monster does too.

books gothic fiction

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Novels from the Victorian period, like  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , have defined our idea of the Gothic, even though the genre technically started in the 1760s. Here, the Gothic manifests through the motif of doubling: Everyone has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde within them, to a degree.

books gothic fiction

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Ann Radcliffe is considered one of the founders of Gothic fiction, able to infuse scenes with terror  and  an undeniable allure.   The Mysteries of Udolpho ,  set in a European castle, is one of her most famous works. Jane Austen's  Northanger Abbey  is a parodic sendup of  The Mysteries of Udolpho . 

books gothic fiction

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

On the surface,  Northanger Abbey  appears to be a Gothic novel—but it's actually an affectionate and deliberate parody of the novels that were extremely popular at the time of publication. Catherine, Northanger Abbey 's  protagonist, can't get enough of books like Ann Radcliffe's  T he Mysteries of Udolpho . Austen, ever attuned to social comedy, is also parodying the reader. 

books gothic fiction

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Henry James's classic work of psychological horror has inspired many adaptations, including, most recently,  Netflix's  The Haunting of Bly Manor .  The novella follows a governess who accepts a position in a crumbling old house, where she hears ghosts. Reading  The Turn of the Screw  is a deliberately destabilizing experience—you never quite know who is telling the truth, because the characters don't, either. 

books gothic fiction

The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

Just uttering Edgar Allan Poe's name conjures up the mood of his best-known short stories, novels, and poems: An undeniable sense of dread.  The Fall of the House of Usher   is the story of a family's decline due to an ancestral curse . 

books gothic fiction

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The Brontë sisters  trail-blazed in the realm of the Gothic novel.  Jane Eyre  is the story of a quiet but strong-willed young woman who takes a job at a spooky and isolated English manor, where she develops a relationship with its owner. Mr. Rochester has secrets that literally can't stay hidden, and Jane soon learns them.  

books gothic fiction

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Brooding, dark, and ultimately unknowable, Heathcliffe of  Wuthering Heights   is one of the Gothic tradition's quintessential leading men. That's just the start of  Wuthering Heights ' many Gothic motifs, which also include remote landscapes and storms in the sky and the spirit. 

books gothic fiction

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Just  try  keeping track of the many plot twists in  The Woman in White —we dare you. Wilkie Collins's 1859 novel begins when a young man encounters a hapless woman dressed in white on the road, supposedly an escapee from the asylum. The novel reads as Gothic thanks to its suspenseful mood, but the mystery wraps up all of its loose strings.

books gothic fiction

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

" Frankenstein's incredible not only because it's possibly the first real science fiction novel, but because it's a Gothic novel as well," Dr. Reyes says of Mary Shelley's classic book. The characters are striking in their isolation: Frankenstein's monster is condemned to wander alone, and Frankenstein, having banished his progeny, also lost those he loves.

books gothic fiction

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Dorian Gray has a secret. Though he looks perpetually young and beautiful, a portrait of Dorian in his attic becomes pock-marked with all of his many sins over the years. Dr. Ní Fhlainn cites this as perfect end of the 19th century Gothic novel. Although it's not expressly scary, it's teeming with dread and decadence. 

books gothic fiction

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca  is the quintessential Gothic romance, in that it uses a deep emotional connection to our narrator into the dark, dangerous world of Manderley, her new husband's home. Daphne Du Maurier describes Manderley with exquisite language."Landscapes in the Gothic tend to be really important, because they house a secret or a terrible event," says Dr. Ní Fhlainn. That's certainly true of Manderley, Maxim's ancestral home.

books gothic fiction

Dragonwyck by Anya Seton

A bestseller upon its publication in 1944,  Dragonwyck  is a classic Gothic romance: A guileless young woman falls for a mysterious nobleman who has baggage in the form of a mansion. While  Dragonwyck  features familiar elements, Anya Seton's intelligent handling of them makes Miranda's journey feel fresh. It's a natural follow-up to  Rebecca .

books gothic fiction

The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories by Angela Carter

In this acclaimed and daring collection of short stories, Angela Carter amplifies the dark elements already present in classic fairy tales, like "Beauty and the Beast," and turns them into works of Gothic feminism. The collection is teeming with Gothic imagery: Castles, moonlight, and dangerous but alluring characters. 

books gothic fiction

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

There's something amiss in  We Have Always Lived in the Castle , Shirley Jackson's final novel—but we can't rely on our narrator, Merricat, to tell us what. She and her sister live in a historic mansion (a classic Gothic trope), haunted not by ghosts but by memories. 

books gothic fiction

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison's  Beloved   is a crucial addition to the American Gothic tradition. "It  rethinks the ghost story through the impact of slavery," Dr. Reyes says. If the Gothic is, fundamentally, about being haunted, then  Beloved  is Morrison's most Gothic work in which Sethe meets a grown-up incarnation of Beloved, the infant she killed to spare her from experiencing the horrors of slavery. 

books gothic fiction

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

With  Mexican Gothic ,  Silvia Moreno-Garcia is in conversation with many Gothic motifs, like atmospheric dread and haunted ancestral mansions. The twist? She transposes a genre normally grounded in the English countryside into Mexico in the 1950s, where a girl sets off to rescue her cousin from the family she's married into. 

books gothic fiction

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger   tracks what happens after a country doctor becomes intimately involved in the lives  of the few surviving members of an old aristocratic family in a crumbling house in post-war Britain. Dr. Reyes calls it a quintessential Gothic novel: "It's set in an old mansion, the end of that aristocratic line."

books gothic fiction

Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

What happens when a British rock band holes up at a possibly haunted old house to record an album, after their lead singer dies?  Wylding Hall  happens, that's what. Unlike the other books on this list,  Wylding Hall  is structured as an oral history. 

books gothic fiction

In the Dream House: A Memoir by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado wrote what might be the first modern Gothic memoir.  In the Dream House   equates memory with a kind of haunting. Through an innovative framework, Machado unpacks the experience of being in an abusive queer relationship.

books gothic fiction

Things We Lost in the Fire Mariana Enriquez

Things We Lost in the Fire   is a short story in conversation with magical realism, the Gothic, and Argentinian history. Mariana Enriquez uses black magic, ghosts, demons, and monsters to draw attention to social issues. 

books gothic fiction

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Young adult readers will be instantly transported by this Ray Bradbury novel, set at an enchanted carnival—and so will adults, for that matter. Like all good Gothic novels, the bulk of  Something Wicked This Way Comes   takes place in the evening, where the supernatural can sneak in. 

books gothic fiction

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco

Read enough Gothic novels, and you'll know to avoid offers to stay in beautiful houses that seem too good to be true. Seeking an escape from the city, the family in  Burnt Offerings   moves to a house in rural New York for a summer. The catch? They have to care for the mysterious old woman who lives there. 

books gothic fiction

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice

Louis has lived a full life. In fact, he's lived many lifetimes. The vampire looks back on his adventures in this decadent, racy novel by the legendary Anne Rice. As opposed to earlier Gothic books, vampires aren't the villains—they're the morally ambiguous stars of the show. Even as you're afraid of Louis and his evil maker, Lestat, you won't be able to look away. 

books gothic fiction

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Melmoth  by   Sarah Perry is a brilliant reworking of a classic Gothic novel,  Melmoth the Wanderer.  The novel is in conversation with the long Gothic tradition that came before it, featuring (fictional) historic texts and a creeping sense of dread, as the novel's protagonist is followed by a character she reads about in a book. 

books gothic fiction

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

With books like  Kindred  and  The Parable of the Sower ,   Octavia Butler established herself as a master of using science fiction and fantasy to probe at social issues of race, class, and family.  Fledgling  reworks the vampire—a classic character within Gothic literature. In the book, a 10-year-old with amnesia learns she's a 53-year-old vampire, and has to unearth mysteries buried within her own psyche.

books gothic fiction

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

The House Next Door  is an addition to the Southern Gothic tradition, set in the American South. The book follows an Atlanta couple who become convinced that the modern, stunning home next door houses an evil energy–and they're powerless to stop its energy from ruining their neighbors' lives. The book is more concerned with social issues and the idea of a "good life" than hauntings, however.

books gothic fiction

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

Imagine if you found yourself smack dab in the middle of a Gothic novel. That's what happens to Alberta "Bert” Monte of  The Ancestor , when a letter arrives at her doorstop in New York informing her that she's the heir to a castle in Italy. Suddenly, she finds herself traveling to the extremely remote mountain town in Northern Italy where her family is from, and learning the secrets of her lineage. She may have been better off not knowing. 


  • Discussions
  • Reading Challenge
  • Kindle Notes & Highlights
  • Favorite genres
  • Friends’ recommendations
  • Account settings

New Releases Tagged "Gothic"

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride

Quotes Tagged “Gothic”

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Videos Tagged “Gothic”

The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker ...

Groups Tagged "Gothic"

Castle Terror

Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

books gothic fiction

20 Most Famous Classic Gothic Novels That Will Intrigue You With Their Horror Stories

12 Most Famous Classic Gothic Novels

What is Gothic fiction?

Gothic literature (also ‘Gothic fiction’ or ‘Gothic horror’) is one of the oldest and widely studied literary genres. It encompasses novels and stories having Gothic elements such as horror, mystery, adventure, psychological torment and supernatural phenomenon. The dark atmosphere, haunted houses full of passage ways, shadowy corridors, hidden rooms and underground tunnels, the windswept moors, and the gloomy and uncertain landscapes or architecture that create an atmosphere of suspense and mystery—all are the characteristic elements of Gothicism in literature . 

The Gothic novelists, under the spell of medievalism, wrote novels of terror, suspense, and psychological thrill. The origin of Gothic novels is ascribed to Horace Walpole who wrote the first Gothic novel “ The Castle of Otranto” in 1764. This first Gothic novel skillfully combined the elements of Romanticism with horror and the supernatural. Walpole’s novel inspired a number of writers who introduced the same mechanism of ‘terror’ in their writings and earned great popularity. Among them the most famous were Edgar Allan Poe , Mathew Lewis, Mary Shelley, Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker and others. 

20 Most Famous Classic Gothic Novels

Since its earliest days, Gothic fiction has impressed on its audience how pleasant it is to know what to fear. Its recognizable characteristics have sustained the genre for more than two centuries. Whatever form Gothic is in (prose, poetry or movie); it deeply appeals to its audience. 

Table of Contents

1. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

The Castle of Otranto , subtitled ‘A Gothic Story’, by Horace Walpole is a classic Gothic novel published in 1764. It is the very first Gothic novel that actually initiated the ‘Gothic horror’ genre. This book triggered the huge burst of interest in medievalism and ‘terror’ fiction that still endures to this day. 

Filled with supernatural natural elements and gloomy atmosphere, damsels in distress and tyrannical men, The Castle of Otranto is a chilling read. Walpole has utilized a number of Gothic tropes that would eventually come to exemplify the genre. The backdrop of a medieval castle in a foreign country is the most obvious in the book, paired with elements of the supernatural and the macabre. However, Walpole’s novel is unique as it also includes humor and completely surrealistic additions that other well-known Gothic novels which followed did not. 

2. Vathek by William Beckford

books gothic fiction

A classic among Gothic novels, Vathek (1786) by William Beckford is an Arabian tale surrounded by Gothic weather and elements. Beckford originally drafted the story in French, regardless of being English himself. Later it was translated and published in English. The book centers on the reign of the Caliph Vathek whose quest for supernatural powers leads to his fall from power. Beckford’s book actually capitalizes on the popular 18th century interest in ‘ Orientalism ’ and the Eastern cultures.  

3. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

books gothic fiction

Set in France and Italy in the late 16th century, The Mysteries of Udolpho tells the story of an orphan girl, Emily St. Aubert. An innocent, beautiful and virtuous young woman, the orphaned Emily falls in the hands of a heartless villain named Montoni. He confines her in a grim and isolated castle full of mystery and terror. There she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni’s threats, and the terrors and wild imaginings that threaten to overwhelm her. There are a number of strange occurrences in the novel which seem to be supernatural, but are revealed to have rational explanations.

4. The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Gothic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s other famous Gothic stories include The Tell-Tale Heart and The Cask of Amontillado . The Tell-Tale Heart is a disturbing and creepy look at the psychological torment. The main character is suffering from madness and possesses evil thoughts. He believes he hears the constant heartbeat of a man he once killed. As the story escalates, he is constantly thinking of violence and murder in order to silence the noise. His full blown psychosis ultimately leads him to disastrous consequences. 

Check it on Amazon

5. The Monk by Matthew Lewis

books gothic fiction

The novel takes us to the time of the Spanish Inquisition. The story revolves around a highly respected young monk named Ambrosio who spends the first thirty years of his life in strict piety. He is sure that there is no one stronger to face the temptation of sin than him. Until the real temptation comes to him… After an incident, Ambrosio is led down a dark path of sorcery, murder, incest, and torture. The book is full of visits from beyond the grave, moist dungeons, mutilated bodies, and occult practices. besides, long and detailed descriptions make this dark scenery literally appear before your eyes, which is a true feast for your imagination. 

6. Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Wieland is the main character, but the story is narrated by his sister, Clara. Coming from a troubled, chaotic lineage, filled with suicides and mysterious deaths, they are the only survivors of the Wieland family. Their family history begins in Europe, then we get to know about the life of their father, a man with very firm religious conceptions. He comes to America, setting in Philadelphia, and has a tragic destiny, which will influence the lives of the two characters. And then the family saga begins, involving religious and supernatural issues. Clara’s confessions of how much she is struggling with reliving the terror of her tragic experience whilst writing it down added to our investment in the mysterious events to follow. The terror stands in the atmosphere and the suspense is firm in the characters’ dubious actions and in the null understanding of what is happening.

The ventriloquism central to the novel is employed for sinister purposes, creating competing false narratives in the minds of various characters. Everything becomes so complicated and obscure for the family that they become uncertain as to whether they can trust their own senses. And when one of them blindly trusts the manipulative voice they hear, chaos descends and gory senses ensue. The main themes of the plot are religious fanaticism, psychological manipulation, and unexplainable phenomena. Filled with suspense and mystery, Wieland is a book worth reading for its historical context and importance to Gothic literature.

7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

books gothic fiction

add to cart

8 . Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Robert Maturin

Melmoth the Wanderer is a violent story about a man who sold his soul to the devil for a longer life. But he repented of his covenant, and now hunts the destitute people, in their most desperate moments, offering to relieve their sufferings if they accept to exchange places with him and free him from the centuries of tortured wanderings. Maturin’s book deals not just with visceral horror, but existential, spiritual, and intellectual horror as well. It is a truly and surpassing Gothic book that nearly obviates the need for all other books in the genre. 

9. The Vampyre: A Tale by John William Polidori

books gothic fiction

10. Carmilla by Sheridan le Fanu

books gothic fiction


Written by the Irish author Sheridan le Fanu, Carmilla (1872) is one of the earliest vampire stories, one that predates Bram Stoker ’s Dracula . The book is intense, romantic, brief, well written, pioneering, and ahead of its time.  

Carmilla is loaded with Gothic touches, mystery, and sometimes the scenes that put hair on end. This is a classic that deserves reading by the approach made in the vampire figure and also by the form of the approach to homosexual love that was previously a taboo for the time of the original publication of the work. Furthermore, the theme of the femme fatale reaches its top exponent here, and the echoes of this magnificent Gothic novel make it one of the main references of today’s horror.  

11. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

books gothic fiction

Stevenson’s book does spread out a lot of detailing yet concealing quite a few things which keeps the reader pondering. Moreover, the disconnected ends of the strings of the weaving of the story reveals the gaping holes of the Victorian society and it’s terrible stigmas of homosexuality, prostitution, and split personality because of schizophrenia. It’s definitely one of the most immortal stories that should be read at least once in a lifetime. I recommend it to everyone who loves Gothic atmospheres and search for a short but intense story.

12. Dracula by Bram Stoker

books gothic fiction

13. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

books gothic fiction

Around the fireplace of an old house on Christmas Eve, a group of friends share stories of their experiences regarding supernatural phenomena. A man named Douglas recalls the most chilling story of all, the story of his sister’s governess who experienced many horrifying things after being hired to care for two young pupils named Miles and Flora at an eerie estate rumored to be haunted. She sees malicious figures lurking in the dusty windows of dark towers and the presence of phantoms closing in on her. Moreover, the strange behavior of the family itself baffles her. She does everything in her power to protect the children from the mysterious forces, but the children themselves seemingly want to go closer to the looming dead things as much as they want them. 

14. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

books gothic fiction

15. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

books gothic fiction

Unlike much of the classic Gothic novels, The Woman in White is written in a comparatively clear and concise manner. The language is still distinctly from that era but gone are the confusing conversations and wordy paragraphs with very little to say. Moreover, the interaction between the characters feels believable, the setting of the scenes timely and the rate of narrative development just right. 

16. The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

books gothic fiction

if(typeof ez_ad_units!='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[300,250],'elifnotes_com-sky-3','ezslot_22',184,'0','0'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-elifnotes_com-sky-3-0'); 17. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

books gothic fiction

18. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

books gothic fiction

19. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

books gothic fiction

if(typeof ez_ad_units!='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[250,250],'elifnotes_com-netboard-1','ezslot_18',185,'0','0'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-elifnotes_com-netboard-1-0'); 20. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo

books gothic fiction

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a classic Gothic story about love and loss, about a beauty that is lost forever. The setting of the book is one of the most magnificent historical attractions in the world, Notre-Dame de Paris. It’s a story about people, and about their feelings that can’t stick to rules. 

If you liked this post, you might also like:

Related posts, these gothic romance books will give you literal chills, modern gothic mystery novels you must read in 2023, 20 must-read dark academia books with gripping gothic vibes, 21 best female gothic novels for the fans of gothic literature, 13 best horror books for halloween with heart-pounding jump scares, 17 best modern gothic novels to read in 2022, leave a reply cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A Guide to Gothic Literature: The Top 10 Books You Have to Read

Join Discovery, the new community for book lovers

Trust book recommendations from real people, not robots 🤓

Blog – Posted on Thursday, Jun 04

A guide to gothic literature: the top 10 books you have to read.

A Guide to Gothic Literature: The Top 10 Books You Have to Read

Haunted houses, dark romances, shadowy corridors, windswept moors… Gothic literature has everything you could ever want in a tale of terror . Its tales shock you out of your everyday experiences — but they’re so uncannily enthralling you may well wish to remain in their realms of fright forever.

Here’s our guide to the gloomiest and most brooding of genres. Read on as we trace the history of Gothic literature and introduce ten essential reads that have haunted us for centuries.

What is Gothic literature?

Emerging in Europe in the 18th century, Gothic literature grew out of the Romantic literary movement. It’s a genre that places strong emphasis on intense emotion, pairing terror with pleasure, death with romance. The Gothic is characterized by its darkly picturesque scenery and its eerie stories of the macabre. It draws its name and aesthetic inspiration from the Gothic architectural style of the Middle Ages ⁠— crumbling castles, isolated aristocratic estates, and spaces of decrepitude are familiar settings within the genre. 

Gothic fiction is rooted in blending the old with the new. As such, it often takes place during moments of historical transition , from the end of the medieval era to the beginnings of industrialization. Contemporary technology and science are set alongside ancient backdrops, and this strange pairing helps create the pervasive sense of uncanniness and estrangement that the Gothic is known for. Past and present fold in on each other — even as man’s technological advancements seem to make him increasingly powerful, history continues to haunt.

Elements of Gothic Literature

The Gothic is a genre of spiritual uncertainty: it creates encounters with the sublime and constantly explores events beyond explanation. Whether they feature supernatural phenomena or focus on the psychological torment of the protagonists, Gothic works terrify by showing readers the evils that inhabit our world. 

Characters in Gothic fiction often find themselves in unfamiliar places, as they — and the readers — leave the safe world they knew behind. Ghosts are right at home in the genre, where they’re used to explore themes of entrapment and isolation, while omens, curses, and superstitions add a further air of mystery.

The atmosphere of eeriness is as important as the scariness of the events themselves. In a Gothic novel, the sky seems perpetually dark and stormy, the air filled with an unshakable chill.

In addition to exploring spooky spaces, Gothic literature ventures into the dark recesses of the mind: the genre frequently confronts existential themes of madness, morality, and man pitted against God or nature. Physical and mental ruin go hand in hand — as the ancient settings decay so do the characters’ grips on reality. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of great horror books out there, you can also take our 30-second quiz below to narrow it down quickly and get a personalized horror book recommendation  😉

Which horror book should you read next?

Discover the perfect horror book for you. Takes 30 seconds!

10 Essential Reads of Gothic Literature

While the term “Gothic” instantly conjures plenty of ghosts and images of dark despair, the genre isn’t all about terror. Let’s look at what makes it so compelling by tracing its history through ten of the most haunting and heart-wrenching works that shaped the genre.

1. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764)

Some sources say that the Gothic truly began with The Castle of Otranto , an 18th-century melodrama by the English writer and politician Horace Walpole. Walpole had a fascination with medieval history, even building the imitation Gothic castle Strawberry Hill House in 1749. This supernatural story is framed as a rediscovered text, an antique relic from the Italian medieval period.

Set in the castle of the lord Manfred, the book opens on the wedding day of his frail son Conrad to the beautiful Isabella. Yet domestic bliss is not in the cards: Conrad meets an untimely end when he is crushed by a fallen helmet. His fate seems proof of the fact that an ancient prophecy, foretelling the tragic demise of the castle’s inhabitants, is starting to be fulfilled.

Filled with locked towers and secret passages, damsels in distress and knights in armor, The Castle of Otranto is a chilling read that introduces countless Gothic tropes that would eventually come to epitomize the genre. 

“But alas! my Lord, what is blood! What is nobility! We are all reptiles, miserable, sinful creatures. It is piety alone that can distinguish us from the dust whence we sprung, and whither we must return.”

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

The story of Frankenstein has haunted our collective imagination since its conception by Mary Shelley on one dark night. It’s a classic tale of man’s folly in the pursuit of dangerous knowledge: scientist Victor Frankenstein tries to play God by bringing life to reanimated corpses, but he is unable to confront the sight of the terrible thing he has created.

Considered by many to be among the best books of all time , ⁠ Frankenstein is also one of the pioneering works in the science fiction genre. Yet it has plenty of classic Gothic tropes, too: mystery, doomed romance, and supernatural energy lurk in every recess of the text.

In the end, what makes Frankenstein so compelling is the unexpected humanity of the grotesque creature. Unlike the groaning monster of cinematic representations, the creature in the novel is highly intelligent and tormented by spiritual anguish, haunted by his utter aloneness after he is cruelly rejected by his creator. 

“The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone.”

3. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (1839)

Edgar Allan Poe: master of mystery, poet of the macabre, and brooding Gothic icon. In his stories, Poe places his primary focus on psychological torment, turning inward from ominous Gothic atmospheres to explore the horrors of the mind. 

The Fall of the House of Usher begins with the anonymous narrator’s arrival at the remote mansion owned by his friend Roderick Usher — who believes the house to be alive. Roderick is troubled by a crack in the house’s roof, and it does not take long before his sanity starts to crack too. His twin sister, meanwhile, is prone to falling into deathlike trances, and the reader also becomes entranced by the suspenseful narrative that seems destined toward death.

"I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect ⁠— in terror. In this unnerved ⁠— in this pitiable condition⁠ — I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together, in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR."

4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (1847)

Like other Gothic novels before it, Jane Eyre makes its setting the quintessential isolated house beset by secrets. The unquiet estate of Edward Rochester, where Jane works as a governess, has it all: a strange attic, winding halls, and imprisoned terrors.

What makes Jane Eyre a beguiling development in Gothic literature is its focus on female interiority, featuring intimate first-person narration from its titular character. Jane, a young orphan brought up with few kindnesses, remains intensely hopeful; her yearning for new experiences is what leads her to take a position as a governess at Rochester’s Thornfield Hall. 

Each unfolding shock is recounted with psychological intensity, and the narration explores Jane’s conflicted outlook on gender roles and class divisions in Georgian England. But even as it explores madness and moral crisis, this classic is not all about woe — Jane Eyre is also considered to be one of the most famous romance novels of all time. Jane soon develops secret feelings of love for the enigmatic Rochester, though she continues to suspect that he is concealing secrets about his past. Their melodramatic courtship tinged with tragedy nods at the romantic roots of the Gothic that remain continuously beguiling.

“I have little left in myself ⁠— I must have you. The world may laugh ⁠— may call me absurd, selfish ⁠— but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.”

5. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

Nothing encapsulates the themes of man’s psychological torment and self-destruction more vividly than Robert Louis Stevenson’s gripping novella. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an account of a man with good and evil battling within himself as Henry Jekyll, a morally upright and well-mannered doctor, struggles against the vile urges of his alter ego Edward Hyde.

This dark duality arises from seeking answers in science: Jekyll struggled to quell his most disturbing urges for years, ultimately developing a serum to mask them that propels his transformation into the monstrous Mr. Hyde. Hyde feels no remorse for indulging in vice and violent actions, but Jekyll becomes increasingly unable to control his transformations as he is seized by the terrible desires that lurk within him.

“With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to the truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two.”

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

The book that launched a thousand vampire stories , Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a haunting horror romance that gave us one of the most memorable and mesmerizing of Gothic figures. Count Dracula needs almost no introduction: his name is already synonymous with unquenchable bloodthirstiness.

The count lives in the faraway land of Transylvania in a castle that is a puzzle-box of mysteries, surrounded by an aura of unease. English solicitor Jonathan Harker arrives to help Dracula with legal proceedings... but before long, he finds himself haunted by phantom women, strange sleepwalking spells, and mysterious neck wounds that lead him to the horrifying truth about his host. 

When Dracula journeys to England in search of new blood, he becomes obsessed with the beautiful Lucy Westenra and draws the ire of Abraham Van Helsing, a doctor who quickly realizes the cause of Lucy’s mysterious blood loss. This is a prime example of the Gothic trope of modernity blended with antiquity: it’s not only Van Helsing’s medical prowess, but his knowledge of folk remedies and ancient legends, that enables him to identify and cure the vampire’s curse. This tale of science and superstition is an essential book to read before you die — or become undead.

“Oh, the terrible struggle that I have had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, and with such unknown horror as it has for me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.”

7. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

Are the ghosts in the house real? Or are all those scratching sounds and screaming voices coming from inside your head? Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw proves that the greatest horror of all is this state of unknowing, not being sure of one’s grip on reality.

In this story, a young governess works in an English country house caring for Miles and Flora, the orphaned nephew and niece of her employer. Soon, she begins to notice unfamiliar figures roaming the grounds. As she starts to learn more about those who were employed at the home before her, she becomes increasingly convinced that the place is haunted — and that the children are concealing their own knowledge of the ghosts.

Through the governess’s obsession with the ghosts, the house, and her absent employer, the story touches on themes of psychological manipulation and repressed sexuality, capturing the heightened emotion behind not knowing what lurks around every corner. The novella’s brilliance lies in its lack of answers. Critics continue to be split over its interpretation: ghosts actually present, or the governess is merely unraveling? You’ll just have to read it and decide for yourself.

“No, no — there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I see in it, and the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see — what I don’t fear!”

8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

This novel begins with the marriage of the unnamed American narrator to a wealthy English widower, and she is soon swept away to his beautiful mansion of Manderley on the Cornish coast. Yet because this is a Gothic romance and not a fairytale, married life for the new Mrs. de Winter is not so immediately picturesque. Her marriage is haunted by the specter of her husband’s first wife, the titular Rebecca, whose memory continues to command control over the house. The narrator battles the sinister housekeeper Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca’s phantom influence, working to uncover the secrets of her husbands’ past and the hidden truths within Manderley.

A thrilling tale of jealousy and rage, Rebecca is also a gripping story of its heroine discovering her inner strength — asserting her power within her marriage, within her household, and within the minds of readers.

“The moment of crisis had come, and I must face it. My old fears, my diffidence, my shyness, my hopeless sense of inferiority, must be conquered now and thrust aside. If I failed now I should fail forever.”

9. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)

The Haunting of Hill House is not just another haunted house story: it is a masterpiece of surreal terror and intense doubt regarding one’s own sanity. It gathers together four strangers connected only by their tenuous ties to the house: Dr. John Montague, an investigator of the occult and paranormal; Luke Sanderson, the brash young heir to Hill House; Theodora, a free-spirited artist with psychic abilities; and Eleanor Vance, a timid young woman haunted by a poltergeist encounter from her youth.

Dr. Montague has selected them as participants in his latest research study: he hopes to find scientific evidence of the paranormal as they take up residence in the house for the summer. The scenes of actual ghostly activity are relatively few and only vaguely described — yet Jackson creates more terror through what she withholds, establishing an atmosphere of dread that leaves the reader in constant fear. It becomes clear that the true horrors lie not within the stately Hill House, but within the deepest abysses of the mind, as Eleanor is seized by a possessive power that threatens to destroy her entirely.

“Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

10. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (1979)

The Gothic arose from the premise of unearthing the secrets of antiquity and unleashing their terrors in the modern age. In The Bloody Chamber , Angela Carter tells age-old tales like you’ve never encountered them before. Her twisted reinventions of folk stories like “Little Red Riding Hood” or “Beauty and the Beast,” told in disquietingly descriptive prose, breathe fiery passion and sensually provocation into the shadows. 

The Bloody Chamber features numerous stories of dangerous sexuality and paranormal romance , but it gives a feminist spin on what were traditionally morality tales warning women against unrestrained lust. In Carter’s hands, fairy tale protagonists become strong and sexually liberated women. Carter’s deconstruction of genre and gender makes this a must-read of the contemporary Gothic.

“They will be like shadows, they will be like wraiths, gray members of a congregation of nightmare; hark! his long wavering howl... an aria of fear made audible. The wolfsong is the sound of the rending you will suffer, in itself a murdering.”

Can’t get enough of the Gothic? Check out our guide to Southern Gothic for even more dark must-reads to keep you up at night!

Continue reading

More posts from across the blog.

20 of the Best Places to Get FREE Kindle Books

We’re all about directing you to your next glorious read at Reedsy Discovery. Looking for the next audiobooks that will turn your road trip into an epic adventure?

The Essential Guide to Reading the Sherlock Holmes Books

Our guide to reading the Sherlock Holmes books, complete with suggestions about the order you should read them in, historical fun facts, and a peek into Sherlock's many literary afterlives.

The 60 Best Audiobooks of All Time

Whether you’re doing the dishes, running errands, or going for a long walk, audiobooks are a fantastic way to keep your mind active as well as your body. Especially in today’s busy and stressful world where there’s not necessarily time to sit down and read a phys...

Heard about Reedsy Discovery?

Trust real people, not robots, to give you book recommendations.

Or sign up with an

Or sign up with your social account

books gothic fiction

The Best Gothic Fiction of the Year: 2022

10 gothic and southern gothic novels full of atmosphere and anxiety..

The Gothic Revival continues! And this year, Southern Gothic joins the fold in our roundup of the most haunted, atmospheric stories of 2022. Here’s a quick definition of what Gothic fiction does, courtesy of Faye Snowden’s wonderful article : “Through stories of transgression and depictions of the grotesque, [Gothic fiction] evokes anxiety in the reader, leaving them to question society’s institutions, religions, politics, familial and other relationships…” While European Gothic novels mostly featured women in distress in dilapidated houses, Snowden distinguishes two particularly American evolutions to Gothic fiction once it crosses the pond in the 19th century:

“The first is the return of ideas, brutal realities, and anxieties that have been repressed, especially those related to the dichotomies on which the country was founded (e.g. freedom in the midst of slavery). This return of the repressed usually calls into question the notion of the American Dream, and wreaks havoc on the present. The second is race, or fear of the other, which becomes even more pronounced in the Southern Gothic narrative.”

I see these markers in every one of the books below, including two that feature Gothic in a Latin American historical context. Only a surface reading could dub these novels “escapist;” to read them closely is to remember the bloody building blocks of our historically haunted society.

books gothic fiction

Isabel Cañas,  The Hacienda (Berkley)

Isabel Canas takes the gothic novel to the haciendas, just as Sylvia Moreno-Garcia’s  Mexican Gothic  took on the history of silver mining and imperialism. In  The Hacienda,  set just after the Mexican War for Independence, heroine Beatriz has been dispossessed of her family fortune after her father’s fall from political grace and subsequent execution. She finds a husband she feels will elevate her status and protect her mother from persecution, but strange happenings at her new estate and rumors of hauntings threaten to derail her new life, and a sexy local priest who moonlights as a witch is her only hope of survival. Lush, beautiful, and completely deserving of the comparisons to  Rebecca, The Hacienda  is essential reading in the gothic revival.

books gothic fiction

T. Kingfisher,  What Moves The Dead (Tor) 

Set in that 19th century placeholder for obscure nations, Ruritania, T. Kingfisher’s  What Moves The Dead  slyly reinvents  The Fall of the House of Usher  as a fungalpunk reckoning. An old soldier heads to a dilapidated castle to attend to their dying friend, but strange occurrences in the decaying manor distract from the mission of comfort and raise specters from past battles. Perfect for those who enjoyed Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s  Mexican Gothic  and thought, “I’d like to read some more horror involving mushrooms.”

books gothic fiction

Elizabeth Brooks,  The House in the Orchard (Tin House)

The House in the Orchard  is a richly-layered gothic novel with all the psychological penetrations that form is so celebrated for. We follow a WWII widow to a country estate in disrepair, and then a book is found—a young girl’s diary—and soon we’re thrown into another story, of an orphaned child trying to interpret her own trauma and the events of the adult world around her. The result is an exercise in disquiet, just as a good gothic novel should be, and a haunting tale of loss and discovery.  –Dwyer Murphy, CrimeReads Editor-in-Chief

books gothic fiction

Alexis Henderson,  House of Hunger (Ace)

In this lush reimagining of the Elizabeth Bathory story, a young woman languishing in poverty in an industrial city gets a chance to become a Bloodmaiden to the elite aristocrats whose salacious appetites include a taste for the blood of their own constituents. Some Bloodmaidens go on to lucrative fortunes and comfortable retirements, but as Henderson’s heroine adjusts to her new life as Bloodmaiden to the most powerful aristocratic house in the kingdom, she soon realizes that being slowly consumed by those more powerful than you is rarely a recipe for long-term satisfaction.

Sarai Walker,  The Cherry Robbers (Harper)

Walker’s new novel unspools the history of Sylvia Wren, a New Mexico-based artist who is on the verge of being exposed by a dogged journalist turning up pieces of her past as a firearms heiress outrunning a dangerous family legacy. The story takes one interesting new turn after another, gathering into a heady mix of gothic fiction and incisive art thriller. – DM

books gothic fiction

Clay McLeod Chapman,  Ghost Eaters (Quirk)

What if you could take a drug that showed you the souls of those who haunted you? And what if you took too much of that drug, and started seeing the dead everywhere? In  Ghost Eaters,  a group of college friends is left bereft when one of them overdoses, but taking a drug called Ghost may help them talk with their lost friend once more. Chapman sets his novel in Richmond, Virginia, and this Southern Gothic ghost story uses its setting well to explore the not-even-past history of the South.

books gothic fiction

Ashton Noone,  Vicious Creatures (Scarlet)

Vicious Creatures  is bound to be one of the best debuts of the year. In this moody, atmospheric thriller, a woman returns to her hometown, hoping her ex-husband’s fear of the dark creatures that live in the woods surrounding will protect her and her daughter from his wrath. There, she reconnects with her best friend from high school, and the two grow closer to acknowledging their intense attraction to each other. Rural noir meets folk horror with queer characters? Sign me up!

books gothic fiction

Silvia Moreno-Garcia,  The Daughter of Doctor Moreau  (Del Rey Books)

I can’t get enough of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s playful takes on classic genres. In her latest, the Island of Doctor Moreau gets a Yucatan-set treatment, steeped in sultry atmospherics and set during the lead-up to the Mexican Revolution as the hacienda system begins to crumple. Carlota Moreau loves her scientist father, whose injections keep her alive; she loves her fur-covered playmates, whose ailments can be ascribed to their mishmash of human and animal genes; she even cares for the drunken plantation overseer who facilitates the gruesome experiments. But her character was raised to be pampered, not tested, and her loyalties will soon face a breaking point as the goals of her father, his patron, and those they torture pull Carlota in opposite directions.

books gothic fiction

Faye Snowden, A Killing Rain (Flame Tree Press)

Faye Snowden has skillfully crafted a dark Southern Gothic procedural featuring a desperate heroine who can’t outrun her past. When former detective (and daughter of a notorious serial killer) Raven Burns moves home to small-town Louisiana, she wants to start over in life, yet again. After all, she reinvented herself as a cop after a childhood as a killer’s accomplice. But soon enough, a serial killer, a kidnapping, and two men on her trail interfere with Raven’s best laid intentions. Snowden knows her gothic tropes, and knows how to keep the conventions of the genre feeling fresh and relevant. I’m hoping Snowden and Chapman’s well-received novels this year herald a new wave of Southern Gothic fiction.

books gothic fiction

Megan Shepherd,  Malice House (Hyperion)

Haven Marbury is broke, stuck cleaning out her recently deceased father’s home in a depressing seaside town and unable to move on from a bad relationship without sufficient funds. She thinks she’s found the answer to her money problems when she comes across an undiscovered manuscript of rather disturbing short stories by her father, whose literary star was such that a previously unpublished collection should bring untold riches. Haven’s an illustrator, so she decides to illustrate the stories. But unfortunately for her (and fortunately for readers) those illustrations may be a portal to another world where nightmares are real and only waiting to cross into this one…An excellent addition to the growing gothic revival.

Eve Chase, The Birdcag e (Putnam) · Catriona Ward, Little Eve (Tor Nightfire) · Emma Seckel, The Wild Hunt (Tin House) · Sunyi Dean, The Book Eaters (Tor)

books gothic fiction

Molly Odintz

Previous article, next article, get the crime reads brief, popular posts.

books gothic fiction

Find CrimeReads on Facebook

CrimeReads on Twitter

books gothic fiction

Five Thrillers About Forking Paths and the Choices That Upend Our Lives

Advertisers: Contact Us

Privacy Policy

What's Hot?

15 Best Gothic Novels: Classic & Modern Titles

By: Author Laura

Posted on Published: 11th December 2020  - Last updated: 23rd December 2021

Categories Book Lists , Books

Looking for a list of the best gothic novels from classics all the way to modern gothic books? We’ve got you covered! Josephine W shares her top recommendations for gothic fiction in today’s post.

Best Gothic Novels - Picture of Dorian Gray

There is something despicably delightful about the chill you get from reading a gothic novel. And we’re in good company here – the thrill of the violence, gore and horror within these books has enticed readers for centuries.

The gothic genre continues to evolve in scope as it modernises (from fainting damsels to political and sociological exploitation), but it will forever hold its place as the darker, more twisted side of our bookshelves. 

We’ve broken up our list of famous gothic novels chronologically, from 1764 to 2018, taking you from the very first examples of classic gothic literature, all the way through to where the genre stands today, including some of the most exciting examples of modern gothic books.

We hope that you get as much of a thrill from our 15 favourite gothic tales as we do!

Classic Gothic Novels

These centuries-old texts are, without a doubt, some of the best gothic books in existence.

Cover of classic gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764)

We’re taking you on a complete tour of the best gothic fiction, so, let’s start from the very inception of the gothic genre – The Castle of Otranto . This gothic book is widely recognised as the very first gothic novel. 

Interestingly, The Castle of Otranto reads like a lesson in the gothic. Today, it invites modern readers to consider what features of the genre have stuck, and what tropes did not stand the test of time.

These include everything from murder and political upheaval, to giant castles (naturally), damsels in distress, curses, corruption, the supernatural, and a giant floating helmet, of course. 

This pivotal text laid the foundations for the gothic genre, including the characteristic tropes and the macabre violence that readers have loved for centuries since. That said, the idea of a giant supernatural helmet didn’t stick in gothic books for much longer! 

Buy The Castle of Otranto: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of classic gothic novel, Justine, Marquis de Sade

Justine (or The Misfortunes of Virtue) by Marquis De Sade (1791) 

This gothic novel is right up there as one of the most controversial books in print, ever . 

Justine has a long history of being banned and unbanned. In fact, the novel’s publication resulted in Sade himself being imprisoned for the last years of his life. 

For those of you who may be tempted by the alluring prospect of reading a banned book, it’s not one to pick up lightly. Justine was written as a thought experiment designed to support Sade’s claim that human nature is intrinsically, inescapably, evil. 

The book is designed to shock readers to their very core and, even now, over 200 years later, it still does exactly that. This gothic horror novel follows the miserable life of Justine (just 12 years old at the start of the novel!), who experiences countless accounts of torture and violence. Don’t underestimate its brutality. 

Buy Justine: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

READ MORE: 15 French Classics to Read

Cover of classic gothic novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1816)

We are all familiar with the monster made up of human body parts, stitched together by a scientist trying to cheat God. But did you know that Mary actually came up with this idea on a writer’s retreat weekend?

She was staying in Geneva with fellow literary giants, including Percy Shelley (her husband) and Lord Byron, and the story goes that the group held a ghost story competition, where each person submitted a story that they’d devised over the course of the holiday. 

Don’t be fooled by its vacay origin story, though. This novel is designed to shake us to the core. It challenges our conceptions of morality, fate, and what it means to be human. You will be gripped from start to finish, hopeful of (and surprised by) the monster’s intrinsic goodness and despair at the inevitable conclusion of the novel. 

Buy Frankenstein: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

READ MORE: 6 Chilling Classics to Read

Cover of classic gothic novel, Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (1847)

If you haven’t already heard of this novel, you’ll have at least heard Kate Bush sing about it. 

Wuthering Heights features one of literature’s most infamous dark, brooding protagonists. The orphan Heathcliff lives his isolated, pitiful and mysterious existence out in the wild English moors. This book revolves around tragic love, and its ugly spin-offs of cruelty, abuse, and injustice.  

Emily Brontë’s only novel is revered for its portrayal of humanity’s passion – both the deep love of Heathcliff and Cathy that has never failed to captivate readers, and the ruthless betrayals that cause countless characters to bring about their own undoing.

The worst part is, it’s hard to feel sympathy for any one of these unfortunate characters. The gothic tragedy of this novel is unique in its equal measures of complexity, emotion and devastation. 

Buy Wuthering Heights: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of classic gothic book, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

After reading this story, how could you not fear the Hyde that exists within each of us? 

As with many of the gothic books on this list, we’re already familiar with the basic elements of this plot – good vs. evil, Jekyll vs. Hyde. But a basic knowledge of the famous split-self trope only scratches the surface here. 

Plus, even if classic literature is not normally your favourite thing to get stuck into, these centuries-old, famous gothic books are anything but outdated. 

Stephenson positions our cruel, deeply-hidden alter ego against our socially acceptable and moral side (i.e. the one that we show to the world), forcing his readers to question their own sense of self. Although at first the two appear to be completely separate beings, in reality, they are fundamentally intertwined. 

Buy Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of classic gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)

This portrayal of indulgence, decadence and eroticism, with allusions to homosexuality thrown in, are what Wilde’s writing is all about. The devilish character of Henry pitted against the young and wholly pure Dorian leads to an ever-darkening series of twists and turns.

The entire plot unravels as a result of Dorian’s wish to exchange his soul for remaining young and beautiful forever. The corruption of Dorian’s innocence is painted on a canvas for him, which we as readers bear witness to. 

Wilde’s criticism of vanity is at the core of this cautionary tale, but its warning is without lessons learnt or a happy ending. It takes readers by the hand and leads them through the crime, drugs, lust and decadence of the Victorian underworld. 

As Wilde puts it: 

‘All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.’

Buy The Picture of Dorian Gray: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of classic gothic novel, Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Disclaimer – the adaptations have nothing on the original. 

Unless you’ve lived under a rock on Mars for your entire life, you’ll know a thing or two about vampires. But be prepared to re-think everything you believe. In Bram Stoker’s novel, the original vampire is infinitely more unnerving, complex and mysterious. No sparkly vampires to be seen here. 

The sheer malice of this character will terrify you, even if you’re cosied up at home and reading in the middle of the day.

This gothic epic follows humanity’s best attempt to bring down Dracula, from Johnathon Harker’s first meeting with the Count, to the fight of a brave, determined group of people whose mission is to end Dracula’s reign of tyranny.

This battle takes readers across Europe, provides accounts of some horrific scenes, and helps you understand the full magnitude of horrors that a vampire can wreak.

Buy Dracula: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Modern Gothic Novels

Now, we’re onto contemporary gothic novels – slightly different angles, but just as terrifying. 

Cover of gothic novel, The House on the Strand, Daphne du Maurier

The House on the Strand – Daphne Du Maurier (1969) 

This lesser-known text from Du Maurier’s body of work is deep, dark, mysterious and scientific – the perfect mix for a modern gothic novel. In this story, a new drug offers users the ability to travel through time. 

We are catapulted back to fourteenth-century Cornwall along with the narrator, Dick, who sees this trip as a way of escaping the troubles that he is facing in the present. As he is, we are increasingly consumed by the criminality, sexuality and immorality that characterises this glimpse of the past. 

Running parallel to this historic corruption, in the present, Dick becomes increasingly disassociated with his time and his addiction gradually takes over. This is time travel as you’ve never seen it before – taken from the realm of sci-fi and reimagined in a way that only the gothic can. 

Buy The House on the Strand: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of gothic novel, Beloved Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

Through Beloved , Toni Morrison uses the gothic form to construct an unimaginably moving tale of grief, which exemplifies some of the most devastating experiences of African Americans.

She takes the classic gothic trope of a ghost and completely subverts the reader’s expectations in order to create something far more personal and potent. Here, the ghost is a baby girl, who haunts her mother and her home. 

This challenging and masterful gothic story provides readers with a version of history and our place within it that is unlike any other.

It is a must-read, not just because of Morrison’s beautifully crafted language, but because of the singular approach that she takes in her portrayal of African American history.

This book teaches its readers so much about the past and how it shapes the future, and the way that Morrison uses the gothic to achieve this is exceptional. 

Buy Beloved: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of gothic novel, American Psycho

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991) 

You’ve probably seen the iconic film, which stands as one of this century’s top cult movie classics. Many reviewers raved (and many others rebuked) the gore of the film and its raving madman of a narrator.

The book, however, takes these elements so much further. After all, in the novel, there is no escape for the reader from the inner workings of Patrick Bateman’s psychotic mind. 

We are witnesses to his crimes, watching victims (a huge number of animals, homeless people, vulnerable women and fellow businessmen) fall prey to his unbelievable crimes. These crimes are all centred around a critique of American consumerist, capitalist culture, the self-obsession of which seemingly lends itself to these actions. It’s a disturbing tale for so, so many reasons and we highly recommend it. 

Buy American Psycho: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of gothic novel, Boxer Beetle

Boxer Beetle by Ned Beauman (2010)

Few books distort our sense of history, science and society quite so utterly as Boxer Beetle . This dark gothic tale takes us back to an alternative version of the 1930s, where we follow the life and work of Seth Roach (a Jewish boxer) and Erskine (a scientist obsessed by eugenics and the Nazi ideology).

It is filled with lust, violence and a disconcerting take on scientific ideas – with the lines between human immorality, sexuality, and the exploitation of animals being thoroughly blurred. 

This time-travelling gothic horror book gives us a completely unprecedented perspective of history, and nothing is as we could have anticipated.

From start to finish, as we hurtle from modern day email conversations to the twisted obsessions of Erskine, this story is utterly gripping. What’s more, it reminds us to never underestimate anyone – be they boxer or beetle. 

Buy Boxer Beetle: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of gothic novel, The Silent Companions

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (2017)

A decaying rural mansion? Check. Ghosts? Check. Ancient diaries? Check. This is terror with a modern twist and it ticks all of the quintessentially gothic boxes. 

The Silent Companions is a ghost story that follows the young, newly-wed Elsie as she navigates her way through an eerie, isolating mansion. As with any good ancient estate, it is filled with secrets, skeletons in the closet (not literally, but we wouldn’t be surprised), locked doors, troubling histories and supernatural elements. 

Even as a reader, you feel trapped alongside Elsie in this claustrophobic house, which surrounds your senses and consumes your thoughts at every moment. These historic rooms have a life of their own, and the ancestors who shared this space never truly left it. This unnerving story is the perfect blend of modern and classic, expected tropes and unexpected twists. 

Buy The Silent Companions: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of modern gothic novel, Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (2018)

This artful novel opens with a timeless depiction of terror, one that could have been taken from a gothic story written in any century.

It begins at an inn on the Thames set in an unspecified ancient time period, and a man bursts into the scene carrying the body of a drowned little girl. However, a few hours later, the girl wakes up. 

As a fallout of this supernatural occurrence, the tale unfolds into a complex web of layers, questions and mysteries. Its rich language and elegant, flowing narrative fuse together the style of a mythical tale with the twists and shocks that all good popular gothic novels can boast of. It’s a dark type of magic this one, so readers, be wary where you tread. 

Buy Once Upon a River: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of modern gothic novel, Melmoth

Melmoth by Sarah Perry (2018)

Sarah Perry’s third novel has been as popular with readers as its widely-acclaimed predecessor, The Essex Serpent. 

Melmoth features a terrifying gothic figure – a woman dressed in black with dripping, bloodied feet, who is present to confront the guilty at all of humanity’s most evil moments.

As with so much of the gothic canon, this text is not afraid to pose some of the most fundamentally troubling questions there are to its readers.

What does the concept of conscience mean? Is forgiveness possible in the face of unspeakable actions? 

How do we classify a text as gothic? For us, it is all about the questions it asks. In Melmoth, Perry’s tackling of some of the darkest tropes imaginable is masterful, and it is an exceptional example of what the gothic novel stands for.  

Buy Melmoth: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Cover of modern gothic novel, The Binding

The Binding by B. R. Collins (2018)

The intriguing concept that Collins explores here is a world in which it is possible for humans to stitch their memories into the pages of a book. One might do this to forget something unspeakable, or even to force others to forget something they witnessed.

The twists keep getting darker, and the deeper we delve into this world, the more we see how the “book binding” trade has been exploited for evil purposes. 

The Binding contains all of the best elements of a just-can’t-put-it-down page-turner, but combines it with a mind-bending gothic concept, then adds an intense, passionate relationship for good measure.

It has received extensive acclaim for good reason. The Binding is a thrilling, dark and intense gothic romance novel, which leaves readers on tender hooks right from page one.  

Buy The Binding: Amazon | Blackwells | Waterstones | Book Depository | Bookshop.org

Are you feeling gripped by the gothic? Let us know your favourite spine-tingling gothic books in the comments below!

books gothic fiction

Josephine W

Josephine is a freelance content writer from the Peak District. The majority of her work involves writing for businesses in the food, drink, lifestyle and culture sectors. She spends a lot of her free time (true to form) reading, writing, cooking and exploring speciality cafes.

If you liked this post, you might also like: 15 Classic French Novels 10 Classic Italian Novels 15 Best Japanese Novels 9 Best Korean Novels

The best gothic novels to read right now

Dark foreboding houses, sinister housekeepers and psychological thrills abound in author jane healey's recommendations of the very best gothic novels to read right now..

books gothic fiction

Author  Jane Healey  drew inspiration for  The Animals at Lockwood Manor  from the gothic fiction she loves. Here, she tells us more about what drew her to this haunting genre and shares a selection of her favourite gothic books.

Growing up in my own haunted house, in which a ghostly woman was seen to walk out of one of the wardrobes at night, I have long been fascinated by the houses in gothic novels and the sway they hold over their occupants. The six novels in this list of favourites – many of which directly influenced my own novel The Animals at Lockwood Manor – illustrate the way that the gothic genre uses tropes like the madwoman in the attic and Bluebeard’s chamber to explore the perils of domesticity for its female characters, and how the echoing rooms of houses can become archives of forgotten stories of the women who came before them.

The Yellow Wallpaper

By charlotte perkins gilman.

Book cover for The Yellow Wallpaper

On the opening page of this short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in 1892, the heroine references its place within the gothic tradition, fancying that the colonial mansion her husband John has taken her to to convalesce is ‘haunted’, an opinion that makes John laugh at her. ‘Of course, one expects that in marriage,’ the narrator states with a brittle brightness, noting that her husband, a doctor, does not believe she is really sick but still recommends she rest from all excitements and forbids her from any work. The narrator is desperate to write, and for a life outside of the house, and finds her situation mirrored by the wallpaper in the old nursery where she is trapped, which seems to move in front of her eyes and hide creeping madwomen behind its pattern of bars. The Yellow Wallpaper is an electric story that feels so modern to read, scathing and incandescent in its fury and deliciously unnerving.

The Doll Factory

By elizabeth macneal.

Book cover for The Doll Factory

The attic in The Doll Factory isn’t a place where a madwoman is held against her will but a studio that the artist Louis gifts his lover, Iris, the heroine of this grimy and lush gothic delight of a novel. Iris’s studio is a place of freedom and creativity, unlike the dank cellar where the murderously misogynistic collector Silas wishes to keep her locked up as one of his curiosities – so that no one else may look at her and so that he may control her absolutely. His desires are only a reflection of the wider societal forces in the book that aim to keep Iris in her place as she is watched, observed, judged and shamed for wanting to become a painter herself and not just a shopgirl or a muse, a subject rather than just an object.

by Daphne Du Maurier

Book cover for Rebecca

Manderley, the infamous house at the centre of Daphne du Maurier’s novel, haunts its pages from first to last, just as Rebecca does. Her husband Maxim’s first wife and the house are woven together, equally maddening to the newest Mrs de Winter, and equally seductive. This is a novel of obsession and of two women who struggle against the strictures of wifehood. While Rebecca play-acts the perfect homemaker and undermines Maxim’s authority to deadly effect, the narrator loses all confidence in a maze of rules and social obligations and struggles to understand the secrets of her brooding, taciturn husband. Du Maurier’s novel is a masterclass in atmospheric prose and the Manderley of her description – doused in the scent of Rebecca’s azaleas, licked by fog and peopled by the ghoulish Mrs Danvers – can never be forgotten.

White is for Witching

By helen oyeyemi.

Book cover for White is for Witching

In White is For Witching , the malignant haunted house has its own voice, making up one of the four narratives of this labyrinthine novel, and is sinisterly possessive towards the teenage girl, Miranda, who lives there with her family and is mourning her late mother. Oyeyemi digs deep into gothic imagery and metaphor in this novel – attics, ghosts, locked rooms, unwelcome guests, mirrors, monstrous women, madness – to haunting effect, as Miranda fights to escape the fate of her female ancestors who are trapped as ghosts inside the walls of the house. What I admire most about this novel is the way that reading it makes you feel dizzy and wrongfooted, and how skilled Oyeyemi is at marrying mundane domesticity with horror.

Wide Sargasso Sea

By jean rhys.

Book cover for Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys’s reworking of Jane Eyre delves deep into female madness, mother-daughter relationships and intergenerational trauma, and was a big influence on my own novel. Rhys plays with gothic imagery of mirrors, ghosts and doubles, and explores how the brutality of colonialism underpins so many of the grand manor houses that appear in gothic fiction. Wide Sargasso Sea’s heroine, Antoinette, who is later named Bertha by her husband as part of his attempts to control her and rewrite her identity, is desperate to feel safe, a feeling she identifies with houses and places like the convent where she is schooled. But women in Antoinette’s world are only allowed to remain in their homes through the patronage of husbands who take ownership of both building and woman, bending both to their will and naming the woman’s grief, concern and fury as madness. Antoinette’s revenge is thus to be taken upon Rochester and Thornfield Hall simultaneously. Rhys’s prose is unmatched in its bruising clarity, both achingly plaintive and bitterly matter of fact, and always mesmerising.

The Bloody Chamber

By angela carter.

Book cover for The Bloody Chamber

In lush, baroque prose, Angela Carter plays with gothic and fairy tale tropes in The Bloody Chamber , laying bare their monstrous foundations and subverting expectations of helpless virginal heroines. In the title story, the young bride’s mother saves her from her lascivious Bluebeard husband, while in ‘The Lady of the House of Love’, an inverted gothic romance, the vampire queen is ‘both death and the maiden’, and sits in a rose-scented chateau wearing her mother’s antique wedding gown and waiting for young men to consume. She welcomes them with a parody of girlish courtesy, with coffee and sugar cakes, and afterwards weeps as shards of skin and bone are neatly cleaned from under her fingernails with a ‘little silver toothpick’. What I enjoy most about this collection is how Carter explores the pleasures of the gothic genre – for its heroines, who are welcomed into velveted chambers and gifted furs and jewels – and for its readers too.

If you love gothic novels, you might also like:

The animals at lockwood manor, by jane healey.

Book cover for The Animals at Lockwood Manor

The Animals at Lockwood Manor is an atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires. In August 1939, as war looms, Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the Natural History Museum’s mammal collection. But, sequestered in Lockwood Manor with the irascible Lord Lockwood and his resentful servant, Hetty and the animals may still not be safe. Because Hetty is sure she’s being stalked through the darkened corridors of the house by someone – or something . . . 

The Ophelia Girls

Book cover for The Ophelia Girls

Set between two fateful summers,  The Ophelia Girls  is a visceral, heady exploration of desire, infatuation and the perils and power of being a young woman. In the summer of 1973, teenage Ruth and her four friends are obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, and a little bit obsessed with each other. But by the end of the summer, tragedy has found them. Twenty-four years later, Ruth, now a mother of three, moves her family into her now somewhat dilapidated childhood home following the death of her father. Her daughter Maeve is in remission but when Stuart, a handsome photographer and old friend of her parents comes to stay, Maeve finds that there is something about him that makes her feel more alive than all of her life-saving treatments put together . . .

You may also like

The best fiction books of 2022 & all-time, ‘oyeyemi’s world is not like the worlds other writers make.’ daisy johnson on the wonder of helen oyeyemi, 10 weird and wonderful facts about the pre-raphaelite brotherhood.

books gothic fiction

click here to read it now

Read this week's magazine

books gothic fiction

10 Creepiest Gothic Novels

Elizabeth Brooks’s new novel, The Whispering House , is a spellbinding gothic story featuring a sinister country house in England’s West Country. Five years after her mercurial older sister, Stella, jumped to her death from a cliff near Byrne Hall, Freya and her father attend a cousin’s wedding on the grounds of the imposing house. When Freya inquires about a portrait of a girl who appears to be Stella in the house’s front hall, she is lured into a web of dark intrigue spun by Byrne Hall’s inhabitants, an artist and his enigmatic mother.

I reckon there are three elements a novel must get right, in order to qualify as a truly creepy gothic tale. Firstly, the characters, although flawed and troubled (and they’ll definitely be troubled, somewhere along the line) must compel the reader’s interest. Secondly, the landscapes—from foggy Victorian streets, to abandoned country houses, to whistling arctic wastelands—should be both vivid and disquieting. Lastly, the story must be imbued with a sense of mystery, whether that involves a twist and turn on every other page, or a gradual build-up of secrecy and dread.

As long as these demands are fulfilled, the gothic genre is a generous one, allowing for endless depth and variety of writing. Even the type of fear a gothic novel conjures up may differ vastly from book to book—from creepy all the way down to serious, disturbing, and thought-provoking.

The 10 books in this list fulfill all my criteria, in spades. They come with intriguing characters, atmospheric settings, twisty plots, and a cast-iron guarantee to send shivers down your spine.

1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

We’ve come to know Frankenstein’s monster as the tall green guy with the greasy hair and the bolt through his neck, but this 20th-century, comic-horror version does no justice to the serious intent of Shelley’s original tale. One dreary, November night, scientist Victor Frankenstein succeeds in animating the creature he has so painstakingly constructed from dead body parts, but no sooner has he achieved his ambition than “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” Following its creator’s cruel rejection, horror is piled upon horror, as the unloved "monster" wreaks its revenge upon humankind. Frankenstein is a genuinely disturbing book that raises big questions about creativity, responsibility, and the dangers of knowledge. 

2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is celebrated on many grounds: its insightful portrayal of childhood, its passionate proto-feminism, the heart-stopping romance of its central love story, to name but a few. I love it for all these reasons, but I also love it because it is Properly Creepy. I still get goosebumps when I imagine Jane waking at night to the sound of malevolent laughter outside her bedroom door. As with any self-respecting horror story, the reality of Jane’s situation is murky: is Thornfield Hall haunted by a ghost, or a would-be murderer, or is the mystery a trick of Jane’s mind, a symptom of her own dark desires? The scene that stays with me most vividly takes place shortly before Jane’s wedding, when she wakes at night to find an unknown woman standing in front of the mirror, wearing her bridal veil... It’s a gothic masterclass.   

3. Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola

Gothic tales don’t come much darker than Thérèse Raquin , in which Thérèse and her lover, Laurent, are devoured by remorse after drowning her husband, Camille. The novel is suffused with a fetid, cloying atmosphere: I picture the scar on Laurent’s neck where his struggling victim bit him; the bloated body in the morgue; the poky haberdasher’s shop where Thérèse ekes out an existence alongside her bereaved mother-in-law, Madame Raquin. Following her son’s death, Madame Raquin suffers a stroke, which effectively buries her alive inside her own body. She learns that Camille’s drowning was no accident when the murderers discuss their crime in her earshot, but the stroke has left her powerless to express anguish, or to communicate her knowledge to a third party. In one especially horrific scene she tries to spell out the truth to friends via tiny, effortful movements of her finger, but in their eagerness to understand they misinterpret: they think she’s saying, “Thérèse and Laurent look after me very well,” and are duly touched.  

4. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Fear of the unknown is at the heart of all gothic novels, and the new Mrs. de Winter is as ignorant as can be—about the world in general and about her own world in particular. From the moment she swaps the straightforward unpleasantness of Mrs. Van Hopper’s company for the much more elaborate darkness of marriage with Maxim, she is oppressed by questions. Who exactly is her husband? Who was Rebecca? Why does she feel so resented and overshadowed in her new role as mistress of Manderley? I can’t think of a creepier fictional character in all of literature than Manderley’s housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, a “tall and gaunt” woman with a “dead skull’s face,” who haunts the house like a living ghost, eaten up by bitterness and mysterious obsession.

5. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Gothic novels rely on a sense of place; the characters and their story are only as compelling as their setting. When I think of The Woman in Black I immediately picture its landscape: a dark, lonely house standing on a foggy stretch of English coast, surrounded by dangerous marshes, and cut off from the mainland at high tide. In Susan Hill’s novel, the landscape is not a passive backdrop but an active player in the drama, every bit as cruel and unsettling as the ghost herself. When the shifting sands and tides swallow up a pony and trap, drowning Jennet Humfrye’s child, the first link is forged in what is to become a long chain of horrors.  

books gothic fiction

6. Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved is the most profoundly frightening novel on my list. When it comes to ghost stories, there is often a fine line between chilling and absurd—one too many bumps in the night risk raising more laughs than hairs on the back of the neck—but there is nothing absurd about the haunting in this book. In the wake of the Civil War, former slave Sethe settles with her family in Cincinnati. When slave-catchers threaten to return the family to the Kentucky plantation they’ve only just escaped, Sethe drags her small children outside to the woodshed and tries to kill them. Anything–even violent death–is preferable to slavery. Sethe only succeeds in murdering her two-year old daughter, and it is the ghost of this child—the Beloved of the title—that haunts the family home. In a wider sense, the specter is the trauma of slavery, and the upending of norms which that wholesale crime entailed. The book is so frightening because, as well as being a story about particular characters, it is a story about everyone: the violence we are capable of perpetrating, the violence we’ve suffered, and the ways in which this does—and must—haunt us all.

books gothic fiction

7. The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

The Meaning of Night may be a 600-page doorstopper of a novel, but its gothic twists and turns led me on with such skill that I began to dread reaching the end. (Lucky for me that Michael Cox wrote an equally enthralling sequel called The Glass of Time.) The Meaning of Night begins on a foggy October evening with our narrator, Edward Glyver, picking an innocent man from the crowd, tracking him through the seamy backstreets of Victorian London, and stabbing him to death. The action is horrific, yet the storyteller’s voice is sympathetic—so what does it mean? Why did he do it? I can’t think of anything creepier, or more irresistible, than a distinctly unreliable narrator holding out his hand to the reader and saying, “Come with me, and I’ll tell you everything…”

8. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

All the traditional components of a ghost story are present and correct in this gothic chiller, but they’ve been given a sharp twist—the creaky haunted house becomes a scientific research station on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, and the requisite atmosphere of gloom and desolation is provided by the inescapable arctic winter. Place and story are woven together with such skill that terror of the ghost and terror of the landscape merge seamlessly. The apparition that haunts the novel’s main character, Jack, is an integral part of the loneliness he is forced to endure when his research colleagues abandon him, one by one. As the days on Svalbard get shorter and shorter, and the long winter night begins to close in, I’m not sure whether I, as a reader, feel claustrophobic for supernatural or non-supernatural reasons—or, indeed, whether that distinction makes any sense. Is it rational or irrational to fear darkness, cold, and solitude?   

books gothic fiction

9. Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

The haunted house trope seems inexhaustible: novelists are drawn back to it, time and again, and the best of them will always find a fresh approach. Fuller’s third novel unfolds at Lyntons, a dilapidated stately home in England, over an obscenely hot summer in 1969. The middle-aged narrator—awkward, lonely Frances Jellico—has been employed to stay at Lyntons in order to catalogue the gardens for its absent American owner. She is joined there by Peter and Cara, a charming and self-possessed young couple to whom she finds herself increasingly, and uncomfortably, attracted. As in all the best ghost stories, the supernatural elements are ambivalent–as much a projection of Frances’s disturbed mental state as of the house itself.  

books gothic fiction

10. The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell

I read this novel over the Christmas holidays, and I remember looking up at the end of chapter one to relish the perfection of the moment: a gale blowing outside, a fire burning in the grate, and a deliciously scary mystery in my hands. Sometimes, paradoxically, a gothic chiller can be frightening and reassuring at the same time–perhaps it has something to do with striking that perfect balance between physical comfort and mental unease–and this was one of those books for me. O’Donnell’s writing style is wholly original, but there are flavours of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins in there, as befits the novel’s Victorian setting. The richness, narrative drive, and gothic atmosphere reminded me, in particular, of Great Expectations and The Woman in White . The opening chapter—in which doomed seamstress Esther Tull takes her final walk up to the attic of her employer’s London house, a bloody message stitched into her skin—will stay with me forever. 

books gothic fiction


  1. $1.25 at #thelibrarystore

    books gothic fiction

  2. Gothic literature

    books gothic fiction

  3. 90 Gothic Books ideas

    books gothic fiction

  4. 13 Great Modern Gothic Novels

    books gothic fiction

  5. The Web of Evil

    books gothic fiction

  6. 25 Best Gothic Romance Novels That Are Gripping & Scary

    books gothic fiction


  1. Ruining your Favourite Book: Dracula

  2. Gothic Horror Serial An Ideal of Roses

  3. 15 Cosy and Gothic Autumn Books

  4. Michelle LIVE

  5. Best Books

  6. The Oakdale Affair by Edgar Rice Burroughs


  1. 29 Best Gothic Novels of All Time, Including Rebecca

    29 Best Gothic Novels of All Time, Including Rebecca · The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole · Dracula by Bram Stoker · The Strange Case of Dr.

  2. Gothic Books

    Gothic fiction is considered to be the parent genre for both Horror and Mystery, among other genres. The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of

  3. 20 Most Famous Classic Gothic Novels that Shaped the Genre

    Gothic literature (also 'Gothic fiction' or 'Gothic horror') is one of the oldest and widely studied literary genres. It encompasses novels and

  4. A Guide to Gothic Literature: The Top 10 Books You Have to Read

    Emerging in Europe in the 18th century, Gothic literature grew out of the Romantic literary movement. It's a genre that places strong emphasis

  5. The Best Gothic Fiction of the Year: 2022

    10 Gothic and Southern Gothic novels full of atmosphere and anxiety. ; Isabel Cañas, The Hacienda (Berkley) ; T. Kingfisher, What Moves The Dead (

  6. 16 Gothic Fiction Books That Creeped Us Out In The Best Way

    16 Gothic Fiction Books That Creeped Us Out In The Best Way · 1. The Book of Living Secrets by Madeleine Roux · 2. Gallant by V.E. · 3. White Smoke by Tiffany D.

  7. 15 Best Gothic Novels: Classic & Modern Titles

    Classic Gothic Novels · The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764) · Justine (or The Misfortunes of Virtue) by Marquis De Sade (1791).

  8. Gothic fiction

    Gothic fiction, sometimes called Gothic horror in the 20th century, is a loose literary aesthetic of fear and haunting. The name is a reference to Gothic

  9. The best gothic novels to read right now

    The best gothic novels to read right now ; The Yellow Wallpaper. by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Book cover for The Yellow Wallpaper ; The Doll

  10. 10 Creepiest Gothic Novels

    10 Creepiest Gothic Novels · 1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley · 2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë · 3. Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola · 4. Rebecca by