October is here and we all know what that means: Halloween! A lot of people are already talking about Christmas, but we shouldn’t forget the holidays in between. Halloween is the perfect time for horror lovers and Autumn is the best time for book lovers, so why not combine the two? Cuddle up to a good, suspenseful book to prepare you for the abundance of horror films that’ll inevitably start playing. Here are a few great, Gothic Horror books for you to sink your teeth into (sorry for the pun!).
1. ‘Dracula’ by Bram Stoker
Obviously, we have to start with the classics. Dracula is one of the most recognisable Halloween characters and for good reason. Bram Stoker’s novel is a chilling read, if not admittedly a little difficult if you’re not used to the language. But within the first few chapters you’ll get used to the writing and enjoy the real story of the most famous vampire to date. He doesn’t sparkle or fight werewolves, but he does crawl along walls and drink blood…perfect to get into a spooky mood!
2. ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley
Another classic is ‘Frankenstein’. I was surprised by how differently Hollywood has portrayed Frankenstein’s monster compared to the book. There’s no mention of lightening or electricity, the creature’s creation remains a mystery. However, the story is just as unsettling and the creature just as horrifying. A classic Gothic Horror book to help you learn the true origins of the monster we all know and love.
3. The ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ Series by Derek Landy
For the younger readers, Derek Landy’s ‘Skulduggery Pleasant’ series is a great way to begin the Halloween season. More fantasy than Gothic Horror perhaps, but my Gothic lecturer will tell you herself how people have different views on what makes a text “Gothic”. It is an amazing young adult (YA) series with perfect sarcasm to suit the audience. The monsters are terrifying enough to creep you out over Halloween, but the main characters are what keeps you going back for more.
4. ‘The Bloody Chamber’ by Angela Carter
A series of short Gothic Horror stories, ‘The Bloody Chamber’ twists and retells famous fairy tales like ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and ‘The Beauty and the Beast’. The stories are all suspenseful and eerie, portraying a variety of female protagonists. Many consider it a feminist text and rightly so, but it is also suited to anyone who enjoys reading spooky retellings of classic folktales. Thoughtful yet terrifying!
5. ‘The Monk’ by Matthew Lewis
Not everyone will have heard of, ‘The Monk’ but it is a staple text in the Gothic Horror genre. Anyone who’s read it will immediately picture the image of the ‘Bleeding Nun’. A gruesome scene that makes for a great page turner, especially on Halloween evening. This is one of our favorite gothic horror books!
6. The ‘Asylum’ Series by Madeleine Roux
Another YA collection, ‘Asylum’ is a paranormal series depicting creepy ghosts and terrifying buildings. Admittedly, I’ve only read the first book so far. But I thoroughly enjoyed the read; the pictures embedded into the text are incredibly eerie and adds to the spine-chilling atmosphere. For anyone interested in the paranormal, definitely ease yourself in with this starting book. This is one of the best gothic horror books!
7. ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde
A Victorian Gothic classic, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ had to be included. It seems like Gray is often forgotten about compared to his other famous friends, Dracula and Frankenstein. However, Wilde creates the perfect atmosphere for Halloween within his eerie versions of the streets of London. You can easily visualise the uncanny black and white setting as you join Gray on his unusual journey. Another classic worth revisiting for Halloween!
8. ‘The Demonata’ Series by Darren Shan
Another mix between Gothic Horror and fantasy, ‘The Demonata’ series is one of the most gruesome on the list. Many consider it a YA series, but when I first read it, I questioned it. The detail Shan goes into is petrifying and revolting, absolutely perfect for those who are full on gore lovers. Like me! For anyone who wants to dive right into the worst scenes imaginable, like eyes being gouged out and heads coming off, then definitely start with these.
9. ‘The Wasp Factory’ by Iain Banks
One of my absolute favourites, ‘The Wasp Factory’ is more of a psychological Gothic Horror novel that includes some rather disturbing scenes. Its protagonist shows psychopathic tendencies as he recounts the numerous times he was involved in the events that lead to different family member’s deaths. What’s worse is that he’s only a teenager! If you love animals, maybe give it a miss as you all know where psychopathic killers stereotypically tend to start.
10. Anything by Edgar Allan Poe
I will always recommend the father (in my opinion) of Gothic Horror, Edgar Allan Poe. From his spine-chilling poems to his eerie short stories, he is the perfect author for Halloween. ‘The Raven’, ‘The Oval Portrait’, ‘The Masque of the Red Death’, all contain perfect scenes to captivate and ultimately terrify you. Many are aware of his story, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. Once read, the beating of the victim’s heart will haunt you for nights on end. Poe is the perfect author for October.