For October's genre guide, we wanted to tackle something horror-related, and we settled on gothic fiction. This is one of those genres that I think everyone recognizes when they read it, but it's difficult to say just what it is that makes it gothic. It's tricky to define.
Goodreads says that gothic fiction "combines elements of both the uncanny and romance" and is a "parent genre" for horror and mystery. While I think the former is true (and it encompasses books that are gothic in feel but aren't necessarily horror), I don't quite agree with the latter. I doubt many readers would say that all horror novels are gothic, but the opposite is mostly true - most gothic novels are horror.
The good ol' dictionary (Random House 2014) gives us a better working definition, I think. Entry seven
Below are a few worthwhile resources to enhance your knowledge.
- The Guardian wrote "How to Tell You're Reading a Gothic Novel - in Pictures" a few months ago. It's an amusing read, though it does focus mainly on the classics and not YA. It teases out some of the common tropes found in gothic fiction.
- You can read a lot of gothic novels in the public domain at Project Gutenberg's Gothic Fiction Bookshelf.
- YA Books Central has a massive list of 102 gothic books, though they use the term "gothic" pretty loosely for some of the selections.
- Lancaster University in the UK hosted a Young Adult Gothic Fiction Symposium in September of 2013 (Marcus Sedgwick was one of the authors who spoke), and they have a lot of great resources at their website. The blog is of particular interest; check out the entry on what teen readers think of gothic fiction for a good discussion of appeal factors.
- The Book Smugglers wrote a guest post at Charing Cross Road on Gothic YA in 2012, including a starter reading list.
- YA author Eve Marie Mont wrote about the YA Gothic Revival in 2013.
- Southern gothic is a popular subsection of this genre/subgenre (we've included a few Southern gothic titles in our booklist below). This thread at Absolute Write talks more about it and offers some reading suggestions.
- And of course, Kelly's article for School Library Journal - Horror in YA Lit is a Staple, Not a Trend - talks some about gothic fictions and mentions a few good gothic reads.
Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
Brought back to life and orphaned at the age of six, Jane Williams grows up in a series of foster homes and wins a scholarship to the exclusive Birch Grove Academy, where dark secrets abound.
The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
In Victorian London, thirteen-year-old Lucy's comfortable world with her loving parents begins slowly to unravel the day that a bedraggled woman who looks exactly like her mother appears at their door. | Kelly's review
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their great Auntie Ida in an isolated village in 1958, they discover that they are in danger from a centuries-old evil and, along with village boys Roger and Peter, strive to uncover the horrifying truth before it is too late. | Kelly's review
Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson
After her best friend dies in a hurricane, high schooler Dovey discovers something even more devastating--demons in her hometown of Savannah.
Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine
After a Noor humiliates her and a ghost grants an impulsive wish of hers -- brutally -- sixteen-year-old Wen befriends the Noor, including the outspoken leader, a young man named Melik, leading Wen to appease the ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat--real or imagined.
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday. | Sequels: Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos, Beautiful Redemption
Blythewood by Carol Goodman
After a summer locked away in a mental institution, seventeen-year-old orphan Ava Hall is sent to Blythewood, a finishing school for young ladies that is anything but ordinary. | Sequel: Ravencliffe (December 2014)
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family - before it's too late.
Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton
The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan
Residing in a desolate abbey protected by gargoyles, two beautiful teenaged sisters in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Paris discover deadly and otherworldly truths as they search for their missing brother. | Sequels: The Lovely and the Lost, The Wondrous and the Wicked
Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson
After the death of her father in 1855, seventeen-year-old Sophia goes to live with her wealthy and mysterious godfather at his gothic mansion, Wyndriven Abbey, in Mississippi, where many secrets lie hidden. | Kimberly's review
Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales edited by Deborah Noyes
Drawing on dark fantasy and the fairy tale as well as horror and wild humor, ten acclaimed authors pay homage to the gothic tale in wide-ranging stories of the supernatural and surreal.
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
When his twin brother falls ill in the family's chateau in the independent republic of Geneva in the eighteenth century, sixteen-year-old Victor Frankenstein embarks on a dangerous and uncertain quest to create the forbidden Elixir of Life described in an ancient text in the family's secret Biblioteka Obscura. | Sequel: Such Wicked Intent
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there. | Sequel: Hollow City
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Three teens at a summer program for gifted students uncover shocking secets in the sanatorium-turned-dorm where they're staying--secrets that link them all to the asylum's dark past
White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick
Sixteen-year-old Rebecca moves with her father from London to a small, seaside village, where she befriends another motherless girl and they spend the summer together exploring the village's sinister history.
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Dr. Moreau's daughter, Juliet, travels to her estranged father's island, only to encounter murder, medical horrors, and a love triangle.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
In San Diego in 1918, as deadly influenza and World War I take their toll, sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort and, despite her scientific leanings, must consider if ghosts are real when her first love, killed in battle, returns. | Kimberly's review
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey