If what you really want is strange sounds in the night, mysterious fires, and mad women in towers, you may be seeking a touch of the Gothic. An added bonus is that there is some nice cross over between gothics and governesses, I find. Here are some page turners that may feed the need:


Dragonwyck by Anya Seton, 1944, 316 p.

This gothic romance provides both mystery and terror in an isolated mansion, Dragonwyck, in upstate New York. The young Miranda is invited to become governess at the estate of a distant cousin, and finds herself falling under the spell of the house and its fascinating master but everything at Dragonwyck is not what it seems. This is a suspenseful and compelling tale, historical fiction with a good dose of evil.

thirteenth tale

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, 2006, 408 p.

Margaret Lea is invited to write the biography of mysterious author, Vida Winter. Intrigued Margaret turns to Winter’s book of short stories, The Thirteenth Tale, and finds that their are only twelve. What is the thirteenth tale? Beneath the outlandish stories, what is the truth about Vida Winter’s life? This wholly original and haunting story-within-a-story features an enthralling plot about dark family secrets and a romantic heroine reminiscent of Bronte, Collins, and du Maurier.

wild hunt

The Wild Hunt by Jill Tattersall, 1974, 243 p.

This is a unique blend of regency romance and gothic. It tells the story of a governess, Chantal Fabian, who finds herself in mysterious home where strange things begin to happen. This is a fast-paced romantic suspense, full of strange occurrences and perilous danger. Jill Tattersall knows the gothic form and has a ripping good time turning it out.

And let’s not forget Victoria Holt.

“In the school of the gothic novel Miss Holt is the headmistress of the form.” Kirkus

Victoria Holt creates gothic historical romances which are atmospheric, moody, and compelling. Her stories of brave, tenacious heroines (often governesses) in isolated locales move along at a brisk pace. Holt expertly builds the mystery and suspense. The sinister dangers, plot twists, and lush, evocative style keeps readers coming back for more.

Try The Mistress of Mellyn (1960), The Black Opal (1993), or The Shivering Sands (1969). Have some fun listening to music and seeing the cover art for her books.


2 thoughts on “Gothics

  1. Interesting stuff J F May! I remember reading Zofloya in university and found it quite dark, but a definite gothic novel (by Charlotte Dacre). My husband, is into a new TV show named Sleepy Hollow with Ichabod Crane. It counts as gothic, right?

    • Absolutely! I haven’t seen the show but I think the story definitely has gothic elements. It may cross into horror a little… I want check out this author now. Thanks for the suggestion!

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