25 Best Gothic Novels for your Reading List
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From haunted houses to vampires and ghosts, check out what gothic novels are the best for your reading list.
Do you enjoy dark, mysterious, and engaging stories?
Gothic novels are a great way to escape into another world and can be very addictive.
In gothic novels, such as The Castle of Otranto, supernatural elements are often used to create an atmosphere of terror and suspense. These novels also frequently feature dark and haunted castles or other settings, as well as characters motivated by revenge or other dark impulses.
The gothic genre has captivated the collective imagination for centuries, and classic gothic tropes such as vampires, ghosts, and haunted houses are still as popular as ever.
Whether you are curious about the gothic genre or looking for a way to escape into another world with a classic gothic story or a modern bestselling gothic novel, there’s a supernatural story for everyone!
Best Modern Gothic Novels 2022
by Isabel Cañas
A gothic suspense novel set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence. The story follows Beatriz, a young woman who is pulled into the dark clutches of a sinister haunting at a remote hacienda. With the help of a young priest, she must fight off the evil forces that threaten to consume her. Filled with mystery and intrigue, The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas is a spellbinding tale of supernatural suspense and romance perfect for fans of Mexican Gothic and Rebecca.
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau
by Silvia Moreno Garcia
A most anticipated book release from the author of Mexican Gothic. Carlota Moreau grows up on a distant and luxuriant estate. When the Lizalde family’s son, Eduardo, arrives and begins to develop feelings for Carlota, the balance of power is shifted and long-hidden secrets are revealed.
by Dana Schwartz
A gothic novel full of mystery and romance. Hazel Sinnett is trying to become a surgeon. When she meets Jack Currer, a resurrection man, she soon realizes that he could be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, Beecham will allow her to continue her medical career.
by V.E. Schwab
A most anticipated gothic novel by New York Times–bestselling author V. E. Schwab. When Olivia Prior receives a letter inviting her to come home to Gallant, she knows that something is wrong. The manor is in ruins, the family is fractured, and her cousin Matthew is hostile. But Olivia is determined to uncover the secrets of her past. What she finds is a place where the living and the dead coexist, and a dangerous world that she may not be able to escape. As she tries to unravel the mysteries of Gallant, Olivia must decide where she belongs—in our world, or in the gothic world of Gallant.
by Kit Mayquist
Kit Mayquist’s first gothic novel follows Lena, a med school dropout who takes a job working for the Verdeau family, one of Boston’s most elite families. Lena quickly discovers that the family has a dark side, and she finds herself caught up in their world of secrets and lies. As she gets closer to the family, she also gets closer to their son, Jonathan, who is as mysterious as his illness. Lena vows to get revenge on the family patriarch for ruining her own family, but her quest for payback leads her further into the Verdeaus’ world than she ever bargained for.
The Bone Orchard
by Sara A. Mueller
A dark and atmospheric fantasy novel about a fallen empire, a Necromancer queen, and the ghosts that haunt her. Charm is the last of her line, a Necromancer who was conquered and imprisoned by the empire. She now lives in Orchard House, where she tends to the bone trees that grow there. When the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, he charges her with finding out which of his sons is responsible for his murder, and she must choose between her freedom and the empire’s justice.
Popular Gothic Horror Novels
Once Upon a River
by Diane Setterfield
An unordinary event occurs on a dark midwinter night in an old pub on the Thames. The regulars are telling tales to pass the long hours as the door is kicked open by a severely wounded stranger. In his arms is a tiny girl who has died. Hours later, the young lady stirs, takes a breath, and lives again. Three families are involved in Once Upon a River: the Vaughans, the Armstrongs, and Lilly White. Each has lost a young girl. When the tale of the miracle at the Swan Inn begins to spread from village to village, these families start hoping that this young girl is their own.
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
A brilliant example of modern gothic, this novel tells the story tells of Noemí Taboada who travels to High Place, a remote house in the Mexican countryside, after receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin pleading for assistance. She doesn’t know what she’ll discover when she gets there—her cousin’s husband is an oddity and she knows little about the region. Her only ally in this inhospitable house is the family’s youngest son, who is quiet and gentle, but he may also be concealing a dark secret about his family’s history. There are many mysteries hidden behind the walls of High Place. The family’s former vast riches and fading mining empire kept them hidden from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper, she uncovers tales of bloodshed and madness.
by Daphne du Maurier
This Gothic mystery novel tells the story of a young woman who marries a man she barely knows and moves to his family’s estate. As she settles into her new life, she realizes that the previous housekeeper, Rebecca, still has a hold on everyone at Manderley. She also starts to suspect that her husband may have had something to do with Rebecca’s death. As she tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in danger. Daphne du Maurier brilliantly created a gothic atmosphere of suspense and dread, which will keep you guessing until the end.
The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
The novel follows four characters living for a few weeks in the haunted Hill House to observe any paranormal activity. As events unfold, it becomes clear that there may be a good reason why the house has earned its reputation as haunted, especially when the group begins to experience strange and increasingly frightening phenomena themselves. This gothic novel represents one of the best examples of a haunted house story ever written, so it is no surprise that it has had such longevity. The characters are well written and believable, and the fear grows slowly until you can stand it no longer; then, suddenly, things take a turn for the truly horrific.
The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters
A haunting and atmospheric novel that explores themes of class, love, and betrayal. It is also a masterful example of gothic fiction and will leave readers feeling both disturbed and deeply satisfied. The book is set in England in 1947 and tells the story of Dr. Faraday, a country doctor who is called to Hundreds Hall, a once-great estate that is now in decline. The hall is home to the Ayres family, who are struggling to keep up with the changing times. But as Faraday becomes more involved with the family, he realizes that there may be something sinister at work in the house.
Save for Later
by Stephen King
A classic horror novel that is sure to send chills down your spine. The story follows the Torrance family – Jack, Wendy, and their son Danny. Jack Torrance, an aspiring writer and recovering alcoholic, accepts a position as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. What starts as a dream job quickly becomes a nightmare as the hotel’s dark secrets, and hidden horrors come to light. Soon, the hotel’s ghosts begin to haunt Jack and Danny, driving Jack into a murderous rampage.
Girls of Brackenhill
by Kate Moretti
A gothic novel with a modern twist, Girls of Brackenhill, is a suspenseful story of family secrets and love gone wrong. When Hannah Maloney returns to her family’s castle in the Catskills after her aunt’s death, she’s immediately confronted with the unresolved mystery of her sister’s disappearance. As she starts to piece together the events of that fateful summer, she realizes that the key to solving the case may lie in her own memories. With its richly drawn characters and atmospheric setting, this is a page-turning read that keeps you guessing until the end.
The Haunting of Brynn Wilder
by Wendy Webb
A hauntingly good gothic novel. Webb weaves a tale of loss, love, and fear that will keep readers hooked from beginning to end. Set in a small town on Lake Superior, the story follows Brynn as she tries to recover from a personal tragedy. She finds companionship in her fellow lodgers at a boardinghouse but soon realizes something sinister is happening. As she investigates, she realizes that she may be the only one who can stop whatever is happening.
The Turn of the Key
by Ruth Ware
When Rowan Caine comes across an ad for a live-in nanny position paying almost unimaginable sums of money, it looks like a great opportunity. And when she arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is instantly captivated by the luxurious “smart” home, the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and this picture-perfect family. What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a living hell—one that will end with a kid murdered and her behind bars on suspicion of murder.
The Sun Down Motel
by Simone St. James
Carly Kirk and her aunt Viv both end up working at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. Both women experience strange and eerie things happening at the motel and soon realize that there may be something sinister going on. But what exactly is happening at the Sun Down Motel? And what does it have to do with the disappearances of several young women in the area? Simone St. James’s gothic novel, Sun Down Motel, is a suspenseful and atmospheric mystery with gothic motifs of horror and the supernatural.
The Bloody Chamber
by Angela Carter
One of the best short story collections of dark, sensual, and fantastic stories that include retellings of well-known fairy tales and legends, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, and werewolves. With her characteristic mixture of uncompromising realism and richly imaginative writing, Angela Carter has created a unique collection of stories that continue to captivate and surprise readers.
Classic Gothic Literature
The Castle of Otranto
by Horace Walpole
Generally regarded as the first gothic novel, it inspired several subsequent works in gothic literature. The book tells the story of Manfred, Prince of Otranto, who is desperate to secure his inheritance and ensure that his only son, Conrad, will succeed him. To this end, he arranges for Conrad to marry Isabella, the daughter of a rival lord. However, when a series of mysterious events lead to Conrad’s death on his wedding night, Manfred sets his sights on Isabella instead.
The Mysteries of Udolpho
by Ann Radcliffe
It is considered to be one of the first gothic romance novels. The story follows the life of Emily St. Aubert, an orphan who is left penniless after her father’s death. She is forced to live with her aunt, Madame Montoni, who married a wealthy Italian man and moves with him to his castle in the Apennine Mountains. There, Emily meets Montoni’s dark and brooding cousin, Count Morano, who begins to make unwanted advances toward her. Emily also discovers that her aunt is keeping a dark secret about her first husband’s death. When Madame Montoni learns that the girl has inherited her father’s estate, she locks her up in the castle, where Emily must face her fears and overcome the mysteries of Udolpho.
by Bram Stroker
Written in 1897, Dracula is one of the most famous gothic novels ever written, and it’s also considered one of the originators of modern vampire fiction. It tells the story of Count Dracula, a vampire who lives in Transylvania, and his attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he can find new blood and create more vampires. Dracula works on many levels, from a straightforward horror novel to an allegory of good versus evil.
The Turn of the Screws
by Henry James
This classic gothic novel follows a young governess who is hired to take care of two children at an estate called Bly. When she realizes that ghosts may haunt the estate, she starts to worry about the safety of the children. As she tries to uncover the past secrets, she discovers that the spirits may be more dangerous than she thought. If you’re a fan of gothic literature, then you should definitely check out this classic novel.
by Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights is a gothic novel about the love and rivalry between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. The story is set in the Yorkshire moors and includes gothic tropes such as dark and mysterious characters, a foreboding atmosphere, and tragic events; it tells about Heathcliff, a dark and brooding young man, who falls in love with Catherine Earnshaw, the daughter of his adoptive father. However, their relationship is doomed from the start, and Heathcliff’s feelings of betrayal and resentment lead him down a dark path that ultimately destroys them both.
by Mary Shelley
Initially published in 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered one of the first literary gothic horror stories. It is about a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who creates his human-like creature Frankenstein’s monster. Frankenstein is a gothic novel showing the dangers of playing God. Beyond its gothic motifs, Frankenstein deals with controversial questions about life and death. Its gothic elements are gory scenes of dissections, a feel for electricity to animate lifeless creatures, and distorted emotions of loneliness and love.
by Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell’s gothic novel blends the real and the supernatural to develop eerie, compelling stories. In “Disappearances“, inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishing, gossip, and fact mix to create a sense of unease. “Lois the Witch“, a novella based on the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy can lead to hysteria. And in “The Old Nurse’s Story“, a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. These darkly surreal tales contrast the social realism of Gaskell’s novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling side to her writing.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
A classic gothic novel that explores the dangers of vanity and greed. The book tells the story of Dorian Gray, a young man who sells his soul to the devil for youth and beauty. Dorian Gray is a handsome, wealthy young man who lives a life of luxury and excess. When he’s introduced to hedonism, the belief that pleasure is the only thing that matters in life, Dorian becomes obsessed with it, leading him down a dark path of sin and debauchery. As Dorian indulges his every whim, his appearance remains unchanged while those around him age and die. But in his soul, Dorian’s true self is slowly being corrupted and twisted by the evil he has chosen to embrace.
From modern gothic books to the classic example of the gothic tradition, here are some of the best gothic novels for your reading list! Let me know in the comments you’re favorite or if you have other gothic books to recommend!