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Gothic Tales

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,072 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Elizabeth Gaskell's chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. 'Disappearances', inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; 'Lois the Witch', a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in The Old Nurse's Story a mysterious ch ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published August 14th 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Salma
Dickens once called her his 'darling Scheherazade,' so of course I had to check out Elizabeth Gaskell's "Gothic Tales." Overshadowed in today's literature classes by her contemporaries George Eliot and the Bronte sisters, Gaskell was a popular author in her time. This brilliant collection shows the reason. Reading the title, I was expecting, "I see dead people" stuff layered with poetic nineteenth-century language. The first story, "The Old Nurse's Tale," does deal with that- a creepy little gir ...more
Cirtnecce
“Gothic Tales” is an anthology of all works mystery, gothic and horror genre written by Elizabeth Gaskell between 1851 and 1861, published mostly in Household Words and the Christmas special edition of All Year Round. Elizabeth Gaskell with her complete flexibility and virtuosity of the art weaves tales which are old legends like “Disappearances” as well as a ghastly ghostly tale of a secret marriage and a mysterious child that roams the freezing Northumberland in “The Old Nurse’s Tale.” There i ...more
Vanessa
Elizabeth Gaskell is a name that never really strikes much confidence in me. Ever since I had to read North & South for one of my English Literature courses at university, I've shied away from any of her other works because I hated it so much (an uncommon opinion on the internet it seems). However, anything with 'Gothic' in the title usually does draw me in, and I had bought this book from one of my secondary reading lists, so decided I might as well give Gaskell another go.

I'm glad that I p
...more
Erin
Most of these gothic tales are really entertaining especially the "Old Nurse's Story", but some of the others I could have done without. Gaskell seems to be more popular for her realist victorian fiction and her biography of Charlotte Bronte (which I have yet to read), not these gothic tales, but they are definitely worth reading.
Kay
It's that time of year again, when I scan the groaning shelves and select my Halloween reading. So what did I end up doing? Downloading an e-book instead!
Jonathan
This is an interesting collection of stories by Elizabeth Gaskell that were originally published between 1851-61. I wouldn't particularly call them Gothic as they're more like classic Victorian ghost stories but there's enough variety to keep the modern reader interested. For me, the best story was Lois the Witch which was set during the Salem Witch Trials; it concentrates almost exclusively on Lois Barclay, who travels to Salem, following the death of her mother, to live with her uncle and his ...more
trishtrash
Elizabeth Gaskell’s Gothic Tales are an interesting mixture of supernatural and social horrors; witchcraft (both real and supposed), hauntings, a murderous husband and a villainous son to name a few; and all are shot through with an atmosphere that makes the gothic genre so very enthralling, and is almost a character unto itself.

I enjoyed (for a comparative definition of 'enjoyment') roughly 70% of the book; there was one story I simply could not get into, another - ‘Curious, if True’ - jarred o
...more
Graham
Elizabeth Gaskell is best known as a writer of social realism – her works like NORTH AND SOUTH and WIVES AND DAUGHTERS are classics of Victorian fiction. She writes a lot about social issues and human relationships, but she also turned her hand to the ghost story on more than one occasion – and this anthology is the result.

DISAPPEARANCES tells of strange disappearances throughout England, with no reason or explanation. Is this a true story, I wonder? It’s presented that way, and even if it’s unr
...more
Megan
Several of the stories in this book were fabulous, especially "Lois the Witch", but others fell a little short, thus the three star rating. Mrs. Gaskell writes extremely well, however she does assume a bit too much about the reader's knowledge of local events (in the 1800s) and places. "The Doom of the Griffiths" was about a family from Wales which was difficult to read because I don't know a thing about Wales. Overall, the book was a fun Gothic read and I would definitely recommend it for Gothi ...more
Candace
I was disappointed in this book and only read half of it. I could have slowly trudged through it, but I didn't see the point. The stories were not original or creative. Even though the stories center around my favorite gothic elements, domestic secrets and ancestral curses, this could not redeem the lack of interesting characters, plots, or most importantly in a "Gothic Tale", settings!
Tania
Some stories 2* some 3*. I rounded up.
Simon
This nineteenth century writer became famous for her social realist novels. Her collection of Gothic tales shows that she had more strings to her bow. It’s is a mixed bag, but worth reading. My favourite tale is “The Old Nurse’s Story” about a spectral child in the snow. Talk about creepy.
Katrina
An enjoyable collection of suspense/horror tales from Elizabeth Gaskell. Entertaining, nothing too profound. I recommend reading it late at night near Halloween!
Xarah
I really enjoyed this collection of short stories by Gaskell. I loved the surreal nature of some of the stories as well as the plausibility of others.
Dark-Draco
I was really looking forward to picking this up and was instantly disappointed by the first story 'Disappearances', which was less of a story and more of a loose collection of missing person reports. My heart sank and with trepidation I turned the page to try one more...and am so glad I dis, as the collection immediately got better by a factor of 110.

'The Old Nurse's Story' remains my favourite. A disturbing, chilling story of a dead child hunting the house where she was thrown from. There is so
...more
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
My first Exposure to Elizabeth Gaskell was the show Cranford, which I followed up with the show Wives and Daughters. I bought this book because it had that wonderful word Gothic in the title. I don't know what it is about gothic tales that fascinate and draw me so.

Maybe it's all those romantic tales you read as a child. Maybe it's those Scooby Doo episodes where there's some poor normal (but beautiful) girl that lives in a haunted house or with an overbearing (but incredibly wealthy) relative. I
...more
Nicki Markus
Gothic Tales was an enjoyable read; however, I had expected the stories to be a little more chilling and captivating than they were. Perhaps it is merely a generational thing, where we take more to be scared now than the time these tales were penned, but I certainly did not experience even the slightest shiver. Also neither the characters nor the settings really jumped out at me.
Interesting as a review of the development of Gothic literature, but I would recommend looking elsewhere if it is a tr
...more
Daveski
I'm not giving this one a star rating, because I didn't finish it - out of the nine short stories collected here, I've only read four. After reading three ("Disappearances", "The Old Nurse's Story", and "Curious, if True"), I found her style too dry and direct for me to really enjoy, and almost gave up at that point. I saw a number of community reviews that cited "Lois the Witch" as the best of the bunch, so I gave Gaskell another chance with that one. I did like it more than the others, but I s ...more
Stuart
I love the ideas behind Gaskell's stories, but her straight-forward, unadorned prose, though relatively easy to read, doesn't do much for getting under one's skin and sticking there. The best of the stories in this book, Lois the Witch, is interesting in its mash-up of Hawthorne and James, but while I enjoyed it I didn't become deeply emotionally invested in it, and that tends to be the case for many of Gaskell's other stories, though certainly not for lack of interesting material: they read alm ...more
Carmen Tudor
Excellent collection of nine stories. Will be of particular interest to those seeking longer pieces that really delve into and explore the breadth of traditional gothic writing.
Amy
I wanted to read something good for October and the Halloween season. I though it might be interesting to read something written at an earlier time before everything considered "scary" became zombie or torture themed. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a few of my favorite classics authors had written their own share of "scary" stories.

Gothic Tales is a selection of short stories written by Elizabethe Gaskell in the mid 1800's and run along different themes such as witchcraft, family curse
...more
Mrsgaskell
This collection includes:
1. Disappearances
2. The Old Nurse’s Story
3. The Squire’s Story
4. The Poor Clare
5. The Doom of the Griffiths
6. Lois the Witch
7. The Crooked Branch
8. Curious, If True
9. The Grey Woman
The first two stories were fine but didn’t grip me particularly, and Curious, If True was an unusual tale about a party attended by fairy tale characters. But I enjoyed the remaining stories very much, particularly The Doom of the Griffiths, and possibly my favourite, Lois the Witch.
...more
Brucifer
Excellent collection, not strictly horror, of Gaskell's darker work, quite a change from her usual explorations of social changes at the beginning of the industrial revolution, such as Cranford and Mary Barton. The overtly supernatural tales ("The Poor Clare," "The Old Nurse's Story," "The Doom of the Griffiths") are as good as any others written during the 19th century, while "Lois the Witch" is a fascinating, though fictional, account of the Salem Witch Trials, and "The Crooked Branch" is a da ...more
Julie
Great collection of gothic and chilling tales! My favorite tales include "Disappearances" and "Lois the Witch".
Kristin Elizabeth
In the spirit of full disclosure, it must be first mentioned that I did not read all of the short stories that comprise Gaskell's Gothic Tales. The stories I did read were, at first, very difficult to sink into due to the unnecessarily thorough listing of characters' familial ancestry and obscenely detailed descriptions of their manor house estates. Once I was able to trudge through the densely packed introductory potions of the stories, I was delighted by the way Gaskell wove the fates of her r ...more
Christie
I didn't finish all of the stories in this collection, but enough to consider it read (I skipped around). The back of the book comments on how its a study of the suffering of women (often at the hands of men), and this is a fair-enough description. Some of the stories are incredibly powerful, others bogged down in ornate language and dull plots. At least one, though, made me catch my breath and worry about falling asleep. And that, for a horror story almost 200 years old, is pretty much a succes ...more
Nicole
I really like Gaskell, don't get me wrong. I like what she stood for...I connect with her.

I've only read "Wives and Daughters" (I look forward to reading "North and South" and "Mary Barton" and who can argue with the mind behind "Cranford"?) So, knowing my relationship with Gaskell, you can understand why I would be frustrated at her...lack of endings.
I know why "Wives and Daughters" was never finished (oh, how I wish she could have!), but couldn't she have finished these little Gothic tales??
...more
Mii
This book is a great read!
Kerrie
Doom an gloom in the 1850's. I loved these stories and they legitimately gave me shivers. "The Grey Woman" is written with such immediacy that I as I read it and it felt like I was sprinting. I learned so much about Gothic literature in the into, I am ready to read Ann Radclyffe.
Nancy
For those who have had it with zombies, slashers and other Halloween monsters, this might be the book for you this Halloween.
Elizabeth Gaskell is a writer of subtle horror in this collection and reminds me of Henry James. If you have read other Gaskell novels, you find her writing style the same, but her topic tipping into the supernatural. Her ghosts don't moan and clank about. They are believable.
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Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to socia ...more
More about Elizabeth Gaskell...
North and South Wives and Daughters Cranford Mary Barton The Life of Charlotte Brontë

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