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Gothic Tales

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  2,095 ratings  ·  137 reviews
'Such whispered tales, such old temptations and hauntings, and devilish terrors'

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 desi
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Paperback, Penguin Classics, 367 pages
Published August 14th 2000 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,095 ratings  ·  137 reviews


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Salma
Jan 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Ilana
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Old Nurse's Story , about a beautiful ghost child intent on luring a warm-blooded child into the freezing nights on the moors; The Squire's Story , about a gentleman with a nebulous past who moves into a grand house and marries a local belle only to reveal a sordid secret; The Poor Clare about an old woman who casts a spell which results in a lovely young woman being followed by her evil and seductive double; Lois the Witch , a terrifying and heartbreaking reprise of the Salem w ...more
Cathy
Better known now for her novels, such as Mary Barton and Cranford, Elizabeth Gaskell became popular in her own time for her ghost stories, aided by Charles Dickens, who published her work in his magazine Household Words. The stories in this collection date from 1851 to 1861.

Like many short story collections, some of the stories are stronger than others. I wouldn’t say any of them are particularly scary but in the best of them there is certainly an unsettling air and a sense of the Gothic. Common
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Obsidian
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
This is another bust for my Gothic square read. I just ended up DNFing it at 22 percent. I really didn't want to torture myself with continuing to read this.

The introduction was really long and I skipped over it. These were the stories that I finished and read.

"Disappearances" (3 stars)-It starts off listing random disappearances of men in the area. And I thought there would be a big pay off in the end. Instead it just came to an abrupt end.

"The Old Nurse's Story (4 stars)-I thought it was inter
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Ann
Oct 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall rating for Gothic Tales: ★★½
Individual Stories
Disappearances - 1851 ★★
The Old Nurse's Story (novella) - 1852 ★★★
The Squire's Story - 1853 ★★
The Poor Claire - 1856 ★★
The Doom of the Griffiths - 1858 ★★★
Lois the Witch (novella) - 1859 ★★
The Crooked Branch - 1859 ★★
Curious, If True - 1860 ★★
The Grey Woman - 1861 ★★★

I struggled some to get through this gothic short story collection by Elizabeth Gaskell. As shown by my individual ratings, some stories were more interesting and better written
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Lucia
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Gothic Tales

I think the adjective Gothic in the title is misleading: these are tales of the uncanny. They deal with the inexplicable - with the truth which lies in legends and with the extraordinary which can affect real life... in a few words Elizabeth Gaskell devoted herself to what cannot be grasped about human nature and mind. Enough to love each of these tales, but unfortunately I did not get the same vibes throughout. I happened to struggle with the narrative, which was at times flat,
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DeAnna Knippling
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A series of tales about the darker side of human nature.

List of tales:

The Old Nurse's Story
The Squire's Story
The Poor Clare
The Doom of the Griffiths
The Crooked Branch
Curious, if True
The Grey Woman

For people with nostalgia, the past acquires a rosy glow; for others, that rosy glow is merely the imaginary light cast by the nostalgics, and they themselves can see only dirt, grime, and suffering. As it turns out, the latter group tends to be the more accurate of the two.

These are stories written fr
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Erin
Dec 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Cindy Newton
This is a nice collection of stories with varying degrees of creepiness. My favorite is the first, "The Old Nurse's Story." It actually IS pretty creepy! I was pleasantly surprised by the elements of horror incorporated. Definitely worth a read. The rest are not nearly as scary, with some lacking any element of horror. All are well-told and worth the read!
Cirtnecce
Jun 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“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
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
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saizine
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love anything Gaskell and this is no exception - despite its focus on the supernatural, ghosts, etc being a real departure from the rest of her realist oeuvre. I particularly enjoyed 'The Poor Clare', 'Lois the Witch', and 'The Squire's Story'.
Beth The Vampire
Initially, I only read this collection for The Grey Woman, which was easily the best story in the collection. The best stories always contained a gothic heroine, a troubling situation surrounded by family and marriage, and add in some inescapable houses as well.

The language was a bit difficult to get used to, and one or two of the tales had so many names and characters thrown around that it actually gave me a headache. But most of the themes were those usually employed in the Female Gothic, and
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Graham
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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Vanessa
Apr 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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 put i
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Michele
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Typical gothic tales, with a lot of family mystery/drama. Some interesting plots, but many of the stories felt too drawn out -- "like butter that has been scraped over too much bread." Wordy isn't bad if the words enhance the story and/or the atmosphere, but overall the stories just felt labored. "Lois the Witch" was genuinely painful to read, since you know pretty much from the second page where it's headed yet it takes something like fifty pages to get there.
lauren
some good stories like lois the witch and the grey woman but some others were quite naff so u win some u lose some
Pages & Cup
Oct 31, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5/5 stars.
Karen
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 19th-century
This was a very enjoyable collection of stories. While the supernatural tales were fun to read late at night, my favourite stories were the ones about the horrors of human behaviour, particularly heartbreaking is "The Crooked Branch", about the deep love of an elderly couple for their flawed son.
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
Kirsten
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: bc-victorians
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
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Amy
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Susie Chavez
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gaskell is such a good writer. Despite being over a century old, Gothic Tales is far from out of date. Whether you're reading about witches, curious cases, or mysterious disappearances, these stories will disturb, confuse, and chill you in a way that will have you eagerly turning to the next - all the way to the bitter end.
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!
Tania
Feb 08, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
Some stories 2* some 3*. I rounded up.
Rebecca
Elizabeth Gaskell isn't the most consistent of Victorian writers, sometimes forgetting a character's accent or dialect partway through the text, but she does tell a good story. The most interesting piece in this collection to my mind is "Lois the Witch," about the Salem Witch Trials; sort of like a woman's eye view of Hawthorne.
Jamie
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
THIS IS EVERYTHING
trishtrash
Jan 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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Lorrie | books.and.darjeeling
Victorians loved ghost stories, and many of the most popular writers of Victorian novels decided to try their hand at writing a few. Elizabeth Gaskell, who is known for novels such as North and South, and Wives and daughters, gave it a try.

I’m a fan of Gaskell’s novels. I had finished a six month readalong of Gaskell’s books and decided to add this one in.

I didn’t care for this book. I found some of the stories slow and boring. Also, it is a collection of short stories. I’m not overly fond of s
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Chloe
Prior to reading this, I hadn't known much about Elizabeth Gaskell and her work. I'd read North and South some years previously, and had thought of Gaskell whose work touched upon social issues but remained a writer rooted in realism. Luckily, I found this volume, which quickly disabused me of this notion. I adore all things Gothic and creepy - haunted houses, men and women with secrets, curses passing down upon family lines! This book delivered in the full, and is perfect reading for this time ...more
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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

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