Gothic horror books are a perennial favorite for a reason. With its brooding locales and even more brooding characters, there’s something undoubtedly appealing about these eerie tales. When looking back at the history of the genre, gothic horror is among the oldest forms, which only makes it more beloved. But that doesn’t mean all gothic has to tread the exact same ground.
So for your horror-loving pleasure, here are five books that reimagine the gothic in all the best—and creepiest—ways.
The Nectar of Nightmares
I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of this one, and what an incredible work of Southern gothic and magic realism it truly is. These stories are astounding and bewitching in all the right ways, with a perfect blend of fairy tales, dark fantasy, and something so unique and inimitable that only Gidney can bring to fiction. The eponymous tale, which was originally published by Dim Shores, is worth the price alone, but there isn’t a weak story in the bunch. If you haven’t had the pleasure of immersing yourself in Craig Laurance Gidney’s fiction, then most definitely start with this lovely collection. You’re in for a treat.
There’s always the trope that the gothic must focus on gloomy locales, the kind with old castles and cobwebs to spare. And honestly, that sort of story is fabulous too, but there’s something really special about a gothic tale set somewhere you aren’t expecting. Leave it to the versatile Gaby Triana to explore every nook and cranny of the gothic in a place as bright and sun-soaked as her home state of Florida. With a mix of coming-of-age, witchcraft, and of course, the gothic, Moon Child has everything a horror lover needs. Put this gorgeous novel at the top of your to-read list immediately.
Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked
This short story collection is nearly five years old now, but I will never stop extolling its macabre virtues. These stories run the gamut from quiet horror to all-out blood and guts, but at their heart, there’s always a true and abiding love for the gothic epicenter of the genre. Standouts include “Flowers for Amaryllis” and “Lady of the Flies,” but truly, every story in this book is a horror winner. The unnerving settings and the even more unnerving characters will stick with you, in particular the haunting Priscila. Suffice it to say that I’m always eager to read whatever evils Christa Carmen has in store for readers next.
Historical horror has long been one of my favorite subgenres, and K.P. Kulski knows how to craft some of the very best. In her debut novel, she presents an entirely new and astoundingly creepy take on the story of the infamous Elizabeth Bathory. Dripping with rich details and a decidedly gothic vibe, this novel will haunt your nightmares long after you read the final page. Be sure to keep Kulski on your radar; her fiction is sure to be a mainstay of the genre for years to come.
The Ghost Sequences
As this list clearly demonstrates, I’m a big fan of short fiction collections, and there’s probably no other writer out there today as prolific in horror tales as the fabulous A.C. Wise. An accomplished author of longer fiction including her novels Wendy, Darling, and Hooked, Wise is also well known for her inventive horror and dark fantasy stories. The Ghost Sequences is her latest collection from Undertow Publications, and it more than lives up to its evocative title. Even the cover alone is a gothic delight to behold.
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