Take Ten: Southern Gothics

We heard it was National Pecan Pie Day, and though it started us thinking about lunch, it also made us reminisce about some good old-fashioned Southern Gothic novels.

Southern Gothics are basically stories that are slightly mysterious, usually dark, and involve death, illusion, and the feeling that something’s just not as it seems. Of course, they’re set in the American South – and not in the open squares, but in the back alleys, mossy swamps, and decrepit plantation mansions, adding to the creepiness. In other words, good reads for lazy summer days.

If this sounds appealing, give one of these a chance for a few chills:


Beloved by Toni Morrison

  • Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistently haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl.

Bliss House by Laura Benedict

  • Rainey Bliss Adams desperately needs a new start when she and her daughter Ariel relocate from St. Louis to Old Gate and settled into the impressive, historic, and inexplicably mysterious house where the Bliss family had lived for over a century.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy

  • Set in Tennessee in the 1960s, this chilling novel sees Lester Ballard become increasingly isolated from society. After taking a deceased woman as a girlfriend, he “saves her” from a fire–and his life spirals into deepening depravity.

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

  • When the dead body of a young woman is found on the grounds of Belle Vie, the estate’s manager, Caren Gray, launches her own investigation into Belle Vie’s history, which leads her to a centuries old mystery involving the plantation’s slave quarters–andher own past.

Deliverance by James Dickey

  • In the Georgia wilderness, four men on a canoe trip discover a freedom and exhilaration beyond compare. And then, in a moment of horror, the adventure turns into a struggle for survival as one man becomes a human hunter who is offered his own harrowing deliverance.

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt

  • Growing up in a small Mississippi town in a family haunted by the murder of her brother, Robin, Harriet Cleve Dusfresnes lives in a world of her imagination, until, at the age of twelve, she decides to find Robin’s murderer and exact her revenge.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil John Berendt

  • In charming, beautiful, and wealthy old-South Savannah, Georgia, the local bad boy is shot dead inside of the opulent mansion of a gay antiques dealer, and a gripping trial follows.

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

  • Retells the tragic times of the Compson family, including beautiful, rebellious Caddy; manchild Benjy; haunted, neurotic Quentin; Jason, the brutal cynic; and Dilsey, their Black servant.

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash

  • Easter and her sister Ruby have been shuffled around the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina. Then their ne’er-do-well father whisks them away in the middle of the night.

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

  • A sweeping story about a great dynasty of four centuries of witches – a family given to poetry and incest, murder and philosophy, a family that over the ages is itself haunted by a powerful, dangerous, and seductive being called Lasher who haunts the Mayfair women.


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