5 Modern Gothic Novels to Read
Note: For the purpose of this blog, I’m defining modern as written in the 20th century or later.
Honorable Mention: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (1938)
Rebecca is the oldest book on this list and, in my opinion, can be considered a classic gothic tale just as much as a modern one. I have included it on this list for two reasons. First, it is amazing and needs to be read. Second, there’s a new film interpretation coming out starring Lily James and Armie Hammer and you will definitely want to read this before seeing it.
The Other by Thomas Tryon (1971)
While the themes explored in this novel may be too familiar to today’s audiences, try and remember who was reading it when it first came out. This was before studying psychology became America’s podcast-lovers’ past time. Even if you think you know what’s going on, the novel has more up its sleeve to surprise you with.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (2005)
I am constantly recommending this book to everyone. It’s part historical fiction, part Eastern-European adventure, and part gothic horror. A woman goes on an epic journey across Eastern Europe to find her missing father and discover the mystery of Vlad the Impaler along the way. The path is the type that Indiana Jones or Professor Langdon would take, but just a bit spookier.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006)
This rich and investive tale has some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever come across with an absolutely amazing story. You become infatuated with the characters and feel the need of the narrator to know more about this odd family. Set in a creepy house and featuring a slew of interesting and secretive people, this is a mystery worth unraveling. This was one I kept coming back to for just “one more chapter.”
Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand (2015)
This book about a band in the 1970’s spending time in an isolated old house instantly became one of my favorites after I read it. This was a beautiful, wonderful, whimsical story. I could call it “horror-lite” as it was still terrifying without actually being scary. I got some Picnic at Hanging Rock vibes from it: the other-worldliness of nature, how some places are magical and transcend the rules of time and space. Yes, it frustratingly leaves many questions unanswered, but that’s part of the charm. I am absolutely blown away by Elizabeth Hand’s storytelling in this one.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell (2018)
The Silent Companions currently sits at the top of my list of 60+ favorite books I’ve read this year. I adored every single moment of what I would call the perfect mix of Victorian gothic horror and a touch of extra “oomph” that comes from a modern writer. With all the elements of a classic gothic horror tale (widowed pregnant woman, creepy house, possible supernatural elements) it’s a brilliant story that had me gasping out loud and an ending that packed a punch!