Halloween may be over, but Autumn is still spooky season, and nothing says spooky season like haunted houses. And no, I don’t mean the nice, special-effects-or-bust type. I mean the real deal: crumbling manors, run-down cottages, long-abandoned hospitals. Haunted houses (of the literal and metaphorical variety) aren’t only appealing to me: in fact, their appeal is so widespread that, in the 18th century, an entire literary genre was built around them. And it has enjoyed an unabated popularity since then.
I am talking, of course, about the gothic genre. There are two main sub-genres: gothic horror (think Dracula) and gothic romance (think Jane Eyre). But over the years, as magical elements were added to the genre, yet another sub-genre took form: gothic fantasy. Here, you will find a list of classic and more contemporary books of gothic horror, gothic fantasy, and a blend of the two. Warning: they may impact your electrical bill, as you’ll likely find yourself sleeping with the lights on for a day or two.
The Good House by Tananarive Due
It has been two years since Angela Toussaint’s son died by suicide, and she has not been to their ancestral house since. But now she’s back, only to discover that there may be more to Corey’s death than appears at first glance.
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke
Luna has not been the same since her two sisters disappeared one long-ago summer. Finding one of them, Clover, should be a dream come true…except that Clover is still 7 years old, regardless of the 20 years that have elapsed. Is this really her sister? And what does the lighthouse said to have been inhabited by witches have to do with it?
White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
Have you ever wanted to connect with the people who lived in your house before you? Miranda’s story is proof that you should be careful what you wish for. A little girl is closer to the spirits in her house than to her father or brother, and Miranda is slowly being lured to the other side.
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeanette Ng
Catherine Helstone is not about to leave her brother, Laon, to the mercy of the Queen of Fae. In pursuit of him, she enters the fantastical yet eerie land of fae and magic. The house of Gethsemane provides shelter…but is that really a good thing?
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
If you love the gothic genre, this is the novel you have to thank for it. Published in 1764, it follows human disaster Manfred, Lord of Otranto, as he methodically proceeds to ruin his own life and that of everybody around him. Think Oedypus meets The Shining.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
I know, I know. But hear me out: we have a haunted house; a spirit who haunts, both literally and metaphorically, the people who live in it; and an atmosphere that is every bit as eerie as it is sorrowful.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
You know how, in horror movies, you want to scream at the people who are willing to merrily walk into a haunted house? And they, being unable to hear you and also fictional, ignore you? This novel will bring out that same urge.
Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu
A vampire book that predates Dracula, it tells the story of Laura, a teenager who becomes friends with a girl named Carmilla. This friendship, tumultuous and brimming with sexual tension, takes a dark turn when it becomes obvious that there is more to Carmilla than meets the eye.