Give me a dilapidated old house. Preferably falling a part at the seams on a foggy countryside out in the middle of no where. Bonus points for constant damp and cold.
Give me a family secret. Something hidden from the outside world for generations, eating away at the surviving members.
Give me a stranger, a young woman who’s head is usually lost in books, coming into this setting and slowly uncovering the truth and finding her voice along the way.
These are my favorite books, the spooky but not scary gothic novels that work so well this time of year. I recently listened to Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (side note, Juliet Stevenson is the narrator and she is my favorite narrator on audible and I think probably anything she reads is worth a listen) and while it doesn’t fit the criteria above, it’s very close with a side of magical realism. It’s also what led me to recently read her book The Thirteenth Tale and it checks all the boxes and got me thinking what other spooky reads I feel drawn to this time of year. Here’s a list for you to take to the library.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Ok, very obvious but if you have not read this and all my gothic talk has you turned on, please start here.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: I only read this last year for the first time and have no idea why I waited so long. Oh my God go read it now.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Heads up, my gothic expert of a friend (she’s getting her PhD) did not like this as much as me but I gobbled it up.
Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James: Another one I listened to, another wonderful narration from Juliet Stevenson, this one takes all the criteria but make it a mental hospital. Perfection.
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters: This author is always good for a spooky read, but I think this book was my favorite of hers. Creepy as hell and entirely engrossing.
The Lake House by Kate Morton: Another great author to fill your gothic needs, I loved it a few years ago and have another one by her on my nightstand to read this month.
What did I miss? Obviously this list is mostly current fiction and they are my most recent reads off the top of my head. Would love to hear what gothic novels, requirement spooky not scary, you curl up with this time of year.