Got Gothic?

The genre of “gothic” novels encompasses a wide range of books, from the merely atmospheric to the truly horrifying. But all have a few things in common – an old, usually creepy, house or other building; some sort of long-time “curse”; and people who know more secrets than they are letting on to. Throw in a romance along with the mystery – even if it’s doomed – and you have the groundwork for gothic terror.

So, just in time for Halloween, here are ten good gothic novels to spook yourself with this weekend…


The Distant Hours – Kate Morton

  • A long-lost letter arriving at its destination fifty years after it was sent lures Edie Burchill to crumbling Milderhurst Castle, home of the three elderly Blythe sisters, where Edie’s mother was sent to stay as a teenager during World War II.

The Ghost Writer – John Harwood (also read: The Seance)

  • Plagued with unpleasant memories of his mother’s death, shy Gerard Freeman is obsessed with the manuscript of a century-old ghost story written by his great-grandmother and entrusted to his care.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

  • Anthropologist and ghost hunter Dr. John Montague invites four strangers to stay in haunted Hill House for the summer. One of the guests is 32-year-old Eleanor, for whom three months in a haunted house is preferable to caring for her invalid mother. Soon, Eleanor begins to see and hear things that the other guests cannot. Is it all in her imagination, or is she the only one who can perceive the evil that lurks in Hill House?

The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • A family’s fortunes are poisoned by its past misdeeds. The sins of the Pyncheon father are visited upon his children over a period of several generations, until such time as one of his descendants unites with a member of the family he has wronged. Love conquers hate, and new blood washes away the original crime.

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

  • After being summoned to treat a patient at dilapidated Hundreds Hall, Dr. Faraday finds himself becoming entangled in the lives of the owners, the Ayres family, and the supernatural presences in the house.

Property of a Lady – Sarah Rayne

  • Michael Flint is asked to be the caretaker of Charect House, a haunted place with past secrets that could endanger present occupants.

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

  • A classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house’s first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.

The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

  • When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let Margaret Lea, a biographer, write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.

Turn of the Screw – Henry James

  • The story unfolds with the arrival of a new governess at a remote country estate, who has been hired by the uncle of two young orphans to take complete charge of the children’s lives and upbringing. Her first peaceful weeks are disturbed by the apparition of the ghosts of two evil servants who once served in the house.

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

  • Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor, travels to the north of England to settle the estate of Alice Drablow, but unexpectedly encounters a series of sinster events.


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