Heads up, mystery and thriller fans: I've got a list of nine
gothic novels to read, based on your favorite classic book, and trust me — you don't want to miss out. Whether you're a fan of the Romantic gothic, Victorian gothic, or Southern gothic, I've got something here you're sure to enjoy.
Like any good subgenre, the gothic has its own bag of tricks, which includes big, spooky houses, possible hauntings, family curses, and damsels in distress. Some novels may be more or less supernatural, or contain more or less gore, death, and destruction, but if you've found a story about a haunted house or a mysteriously locked door with an ominous cackle behind it, you're smack dab in the middle of the gothic.
Since it first showed up in the late 18th century,
gothic literature has been a fairly constant presence in the lives of readers. After the 1790s, when Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis came onto the scene with spooky thrillers like The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Monk, the gothic novel remained intermittently popular throughout the 19th century, as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) gave way to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847) and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). In the early 20th century, the Southern gothic of writers like Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner took hold, and their legacy continues today in the works of Dorothy Allison, Toni Morrison, and Anne Rice.
Check out the nine new gothic novels I've picked out for you below:
If you like 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley, read 'Once Upon a River' by Diane Setterfield
Frankenstein, a young doctor creates life out of death, only to abandon his creation, who must then find his own place in the world. The Thirteenth Tale author Diane Setterfield's Once Upon a River also features a child looking for a place to call home, only this time it's an anonymous and mute little girl who washed up, dead, and came back to life.
and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley now. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield If you like 'Jane Eyre' by Charlotte Brontë, read 'The Poison Thread' by Laura Purcell Jane Eyre follows its eponymous heroine to a lonely old manor house, where she falls in love with the master, only to learn that he keeps his supposedly insane first wife locked in the attic. Laura Purcell's The Poison Thread also centers on a woman who may or may not be insane: Ruth Butterham, an accused murderess, who claims that the clothes she sewed for her victims were cursed.
and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë now. The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell If you like 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde, read 'They Called Me Wyatt' by Natasha Tynes
Ultimately a tale of art and vanity,
The Picture of Dorian Gray deals in the subject of doubles and divided selves. In the same way, Natasha Tynes' They Called Me Wyatt explores the aftermath of a possession, centering on a murdered young woman and the boy child whose body her soul comes to inhabit.
and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde now. They Called Me Wyatt by Natasha Tynes If you like 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker, read 'Melmoth' by Sarah Perry
The quintessential vampire story,
Dracula follows Jonathan Harker as he ventures into a castle and discovers monsters lurking around every corner. Sarah Perry's Melmoth also features tales of ancient evil come to life, as its protagonist must unravel the mystery of her friend's disappearance, which seems to be connected to the story of Melmoth the Witness.
and Dracula by Bram Stoker now. Melmoth by Sarah Perry If you like 'Rebecca' by Daphne du Maurier, read 'The Glass Woman' by Caroline Lea
In Daphne du Maurier's classic novel, the new Mrs. de Winter finds herself haunted by the spirit of her husband's first wife, Rebecca. Picking up the thread of new wives, unknowable husbands, and possibly haunted houses, Caroline Lea's
The Glass Woman centers on young newlywed Rósa, whose husband may or may not have killed his wife and buried her body in secret.
and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier now. The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea If you like 'Beloved' by Toni Morrison, read 'Rainbirds' by Clarissa Goenawan
Haunted by the spirit of the child she killed to save from the horrors of slavery,
Beloved protagonist Sethe lives in seclusion as the revenant of her daughter weighs heavily on her life. In Rainbirds, dream-plagued hero Ren is haunted by his sister's unsolved murder, and he assumes her teaching position in her old village in an effort to be closer to her.
and Beloved by Toni Morrison now. Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan If you like 'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Brontë, read 'The Lost History of Dreams' by Kris Waldherr Wuthering Heights weaves its way into the lives of the Earnshaws, the Lintons, and the Earnshaws' adopted son, the foundling Heathcliff, as betrayal and anguish compound through generations of wrongdoing. In Kris Waldherr's The Lost History of Dreams, a woman attempts to air her family's convoluted history by telling the tale of her aunt and uncle's love affair to a post-mortem photographer.
and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr. If you like 'The Mysteries of Udolpho' by Ann Radcliffe, read 'The Stranger Diaries' by Elly Griffiths The Mysteries of Udolpho is a gothic classic, featuring a heroine locked in captivity by an evil, Italian nobleman. Elly Griffiths' The Stranger Diaries also has a familiar setup, centering on a high school English teacher whose colleague turns up dead, accompanied by a line from the teacher's favorite gothic novel.
and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths. If you like 'The Phantom of the Opera' by Gaston Leroux, read 'The Night Tiger' by Yangsze Choo
The Phantom of the Opera, a young opera singer falls victim to Erik, the Phantom who haunts the opera house, believing him to be the "Angel of Music" her father once told her about. Also featuring ghostly, inherited stories, Yangsze Choo's The Night Tiger follows a dancehall girl as she attempts to stop an evil curse from claiming the soul of a dead man.
and The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux now. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo