If you’ve been reading this blog much at all this year you’ll have noticed my growing obsession with classics and there’s nothing like settling down with a Gothic read or two as the nights start drawing in.
Here are a few perfect Halloween reads that I've read, and some I can’t wait to get stuck into.
‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James
When a young governess moves away from home to look after two young children at a country house, she spots a figure of a man she doesn’t know on the tower. The other staff quickly identify the man, but he’s dead.
This novella is often heralded as one of the finest ghost stories ever written. I listened to the audiobook performed by Emma Thompson and it was delightfully unsettling.
‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen
Catherine Moorland is obsessed with sensational Gothic novels so when she goes to stay at Northanger Abbey with the Tilneys, her imagination runs away with her and she starts to envisage horrible things happening in the house.
This short little Austen is bursting with satire, fun and an affectionate mocking of lots of the novels that feature here!
‘Carmilla’ by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
I LOVE this novella about a mysterious young woman who comes to the home of a teenage girl and her father and the girls start to experience unusual desires for each other.
This story pre-dates ‘Dracula’ by over 25 years and inspired Stoker substantially, yet it’s still lesser known, but I actually like ‘Carmilla’ a whole lot more than I do its successor.
‘The Castle of Otranto’ by Horace Walpole
I find came across this ridiculous Gothic novel in my second year of uni during a module on Gothic fiction. It's widely acknowledged as the first Gothic novel.
Manfred’s fear of an ancient prophecy sets him on a destructive course when he marries the bride-to-be of his freshly dead son and proceeds to hunt her through the castle as she flees. It’s a very amusing read, if very weird…
‘The Haunted Hotel’ by Wilkie Collins
Two mysteries: an English Lord sickens and dies in a festering room by Venice’s Grand Canal and a London wife stops abruptly stops receiving letters from her Italian servant husband and becomes convinced he’s been murdered. How are they connected?
This just sounds like such a lot of fun. And a much shorter read from Collins than ‘The Moonstone’ or ‘The Woman in White’!
‘The Vampyre’ by John Polidori
This short story was produced by the same ghost story competition with Shelley and Byron that gifted the world with ‘Frankenstein’ and is heralded as the story that catapulted vampires into English fiction.
Under Polidori’s hand, the vampire becomes a force of sensuality and glamour as an aristocrat who haunts a young man, turning sharply away from the grotesque, deathly beings of mythology that they’d been previously.
‘The Monk’ by Matthew Lewis
This was another title that featured on my Gothic module reading list, but it’s one I never got to. I'm really hoping this will change soon!
This is the story of Ambrosio, a monk whose downfall starts with a seduction in an abbey and leads to damnation; thwarted young lovers; bandits; and imprisoned spectres of nuns. Sounds so much fun, right?
‘The Mysteries of Udulpho’ by Ann Radcliffe
This chunkster was another that I failed to read at uni. My second year wasn’t really that productive…
Emily is an orphan who finds herself imprisoned in a fortress by her evil uncle and has to battle against her uncle’s schemes and her mental disintegration. I think that if this was shorter than its 700 pages, I definitely would have read this by now.
What are your favourite spooky classics?