Eight gothic tales

Chosen by Amy Whitear

As we get deeper into autumn, with its dark evenings and unpredictable weather, I find myself reaching for the darker and more atmospheric offerings on my bookshelf. From reluctant vampires to revengeful magicians and everything possible in between, here are my favourite gothic tales.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

The blueprint for all modern vampire novels, Anne Rice’s 1976 novel has developed a fiercely loyal following. Telling the life story of weary vampire Louis, we’re taken on a vivid journey from New Orleans to Paris and back again, featuring a vampire coven and pondering what it means to be immortal. The 1994 film adaptation, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, is also worthy of a watch as Halloween grows closer. 

The Prestige
By Christopher Priest

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

Told in diary entry form, The Prestige is a captivating tale of rival stage musicians, set in Victorian England. An intelligent and occasionally grimly humourous read, Christopher Priest weaves a spellbinding tale featuring multiple narrators across several generations. A fantastically creepy gem that is not to be understated or underestimated.

The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter

Although The Bloody Chamber is arguably Angela Carter’s most famous work, The Magic Toyshop established her as a brilliant and imaginative writer. Telling the story of Melanie, forced to leave her childhood home to live in London with relatives she’s never met, The Magic Toyshop effortlessly weaves sex, feminism and magical realism into a brooding, haunting gothic fairytale. 

The Woman In Black
By Susan Hill

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

A chilling, spine tingling ghost story, with an obligatory English moor, Susan Hill’s novella has been enthralling and terrifying readers since 1983. Taking influences from Edgar Allen Poe and traditional Victorian ghost stories, The Woman in Black is so skilfully written that the scariest scenes happen in your head, rather than on the page. 

The Wasp Factory
By Iain Banks

The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks

Described by a reviewer as “a work of unparalleled depravity”, the debut novel from Iain Banks tells the story of 16-year-old Frank, who lives with his father in a remote Scottish village. Not for the faint of heart, or those with weak stomachs, The Wasp Factory is an unnerving, captivating read that will have your heart beating out of your chest and your fingers poised to turn the pages and keep reading.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” and you will too after reading Daphne du Maruier’s enduring novel of love and evil is the definitive curl-up-with-a-blanket gothic read. Often reminiscent of Jane Eyre – and, some say, greatly influenced by the Charlotte Bronte classic – Rebecca will sweep you up as it masterfully and intricately twists and turns its way through the story of Mrs. de Winter.

The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The 2011 debut novel from Erin Morgenstern tells the story of a fantastical travelling circus that arrives without warning and opens only at night. Although steeped in modern fantasy writing, The Night Circus is an intriguing and atmospheric tale often reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s rich and dramatic storytelling. 

Frankenstein
By Mary Shelley

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

No list of gothic literature would be complete without Mary Shelley’s genre defining novel. Written when Mary Shelley was just 18 years old, the tale of Victor Frankenstein and his grotesque monster. There have been many adaptations and imitators but none come close to the power of Shelley’s gorgeous writing and perfect imagination. 

Horror LoungeAmy Whitear