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Lets Talk: Gothic Reads for the Fall Season

Everything gothic, from retellings, to gothic horror

Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year, and what better way to celebrate its arrival than by sharing some of my favorite gothic novels from the last two years. If you’re like me, then fall is the time that you reach for gothic novels and horror more than anything. Something about the leaves falling and the temperature dropping puts me in the mood to read about desolate castles, blood, and murder. Even if you aren’t the biggest gothic fan, fall is undoubtedly the perfect time of year to give it a try or another shot. This post will reach everything from vampires to haunted castles, and retellings. Of course, these are just a select few of my favorite gothic reads. Regardless of the time of year, I am always looking for more, so please drop a recommendation if you feel like it. Spooky reading!

Gothic Recommendations

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

T. Kingfisher is a new author I have discovered this year, with an extensive backlist in both fantasy and horror. Their new novel, What Moves the Dead is an unsettling gothic retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher. Following the retired soldier Alex Easton, coming to the aid of a dying childhood friend, we explore the house of Usher run amok with mushrooms and unpredictable wildlife, and set around the malevolent murky depths of a lake. What Moves the Dead has a suspenseful build to it, leaning more towards the classic horror I have come to love. Perfect for the everyday Poe fan, or someone looking to read more of the genre.

Trigger warnings: Body horror, animal death, death, war, suicide, gore

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House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Queer horror has definitely had a resurgence this year, and House of Hunger is one of my favorites of them all. There’s a sprawling estate with plenty of secrets inside and a vampiric regime that preys on impoverished women. Henderson has perfected the gothic atmosphere, combining the horrific, an analysis of desire, and a sweeping narrative that ensnares the senses. Following heroine Marion, as she applies for the position of bloodmaid, and discovers the truth behind the illustrious houses of the North, this novel delves deep into its corrupted heart. House of Hunger comes packed with a gruesome twist that you won’t want to miss!

Trigger warnings: blood, death, violence, gore, murder, torture

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A Dowry of Blood by S.T Gibson

An exquisite reimagining of Dracula’s Brides in the form of an open letter from the first bride Constanta; A Dowry of Blood is an achingly haunting and beautiful novel that spans centuries in the life of its narrator. S.T Gibson devises an evocative narrative, chronicling the quiet descent from love into violence over many years. This queer polyamorous vampire novel has re-debuted this October through Orbit and what better time to read it than the Halloween season. Everything about this is exquisite, a combination of sapphic yearning at the opera, found family, and a moving exploration of relationship abuse.

Trigger warnings: Emotional abuse, blood, death, murder, abuse

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Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid

Continuing the trend of retellings, Juniper & Thorn is one of my favorites, a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree that just released this year. Honestly, Ava Reid is THE author for fantasy and the gothic, and they always manage to deliver an impeccable story that ticks all the boxes. Juniper & Thorn is a phenomenal story full of monsters that await you down dark hallways and the ones within. Its examination of survivorhood, defiance, and the monstrous is something I will carry with me for a long time. If any gothic horror is going to stick with you, it’s going to be this one.

Trigger warnings: violence, emotional abuse, gore, blood, death, murder, body horror, cannibalism, eating disorder (bulimia), vomiting (graphic), sexual assault, antisemitism, xenophobia, drug use 

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The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

The Death of Jane Lawrence has been aptly compared to Crimson Peak, with a narrative so mind-boggling it completely threw me over. Set in a dark version of Post-War England, we follow the bright and practical Jane Shoringfield as she makes a marriage of convenience centered around a bargain she won’t be able to uphold. This is one of the most brilliant and unnerving books that I have ever read within the horror genre. Starling weaves a startling story with layers that cannot be fully parsed with just one glance and one that I continue to think about to this day. It’s gothic horror with a historical layer and a side of discontent.

Trigger warnings: Blood, gore, medical procedures, drug use, child death, death, gaslighting

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

An instant recommendation of mine is always going to be Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This is comped as Rebecca meets The Yellow Wallpaper, and honestly, nothing could be a more accurate comparison. A gothic that burns slowly and then doesn’t catch its breath until the very end —complete with a twist that still keeps me up at night, Mexican Gothic is a great venture into gothic horror. Moreno-Garcia is one of my all-time favorite writers, with an insane capacity to genre-shift and spin the stories that stay with you. Mexican Gothic is arguably her most well-known novel, and for good reason. It’s got a creepy family estate, and a horrific family legacy to unpack before its smashing conclusion.

Trigger warnings: Violence, death, body horror, sexual assault, sexism

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This is coming a bit late into the season so I’ve already had the chance to revisit a few of these and try some new reads. The books above remain my absolute favorites of what the gothic has to offer, and if you try and like any, be sure to reach out and let me know. Every single one of these authors has other works I have adored, and I cannot recommend delving into their backlist, especially if you liked any of them. Currently, any and all of Jennifer McMahon’s books are on my upcoming reading list, as well as a few of Paul Tremblay’s horror novels. Both authors have provided a fascinating dive into the horror genre and I hope to read more before the season is out!

4 thoughts on “Lets Talk: Gothic Reads for the Fall Season

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