Best Gothic Books Of All Time

Making its debut in the late 18th century, Gothic fiction was a branch of the larger Romantic movement that sought to stimulate strong emotions in the reader - fear and apprehension in this case. Gothic fiction places heavy emphasis on atmosphere, using setting and diction to build suspense and a sense of unease in the reader. Common subject matter includes the supernatural, family curses, mystery, and madness.

When adding books to the list, please make sure "gothic" is listed on the book's main genre page.
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458 books · 2,316 voters · list created December 15th, 2008 by Rachel (votes) .
870 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Rachel 423 books
28 friends
Julenew 607 books
91 friends
Cathy 1483 books
79 friends
Corine 189 books
115 friends
Clarice 218 books
30 friends
Andy 311 books
78 friends
Laura 10317 books
235 friends
Ana 564 books
41 friends

More voters…


Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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message 1: by Julenew (last edited Dec 15, 2008 10:41PM) (new)

Julenew I'm afraid I'm not up on the latest authors. And I can't vote for a book or an author I haven't read . . .

But, if we're talking "Greatest Gothic Novel of ALL TIME" one would be a fool to limit oneself only to authors who have published in the last 10 - 25 years. To be truly considered for the crown of "Greatest of All Time," a book must stand toe-to-toe with those known to have stood the test of time: Shelley's Frankenstein; Dracula; some of Edgar Allen Poe's works, to name only a few.


message 2: by Elettaria (new)

Elettaria There are a few problems with this list. One is that some of the texts aren't novels, they're short stories, such as "The Yellow Wallpaper", or collections of short stories, such as M.R. James. Then we get to Poe's poetry, which is even further away from a novel! Others are indeed novels, but they're not gothic novels, they're novels which include parodies of gothic, namely "Northanger Abbey" and "Lady Oracle". I'd suggest pruning the list of anything which is very definitely not a novel, to begin with. Novellas such as "Carmilla" are probably OK, but anything ten pages long is nowhere near a novel.


message 3: by Clarice (last edited Jul 06, 2009 11:10PM) (new)

Clarice The list is titled "Best Gothic Books of All Time" - this makes our life easy as any type of fiction can be included, no matter whether novella, short story, short story collection or novel. Why should we limit ourselves to novels unnecessarily? I do agree that Northanger Abbey, for example, is a parody of the genre. However, as a parody it still contains all the elements necessary to be classed as a "gothic novel". It therefore should not be excluded from the list.


message 4: by Werner (new)

Werner Elettaria has a case, in that collections of short stories may have diverse subject matter and not all be Gothic in nature; and poetry is rarely "Gothic," since that's mainly a type of fiction. Both points would apply to Poe's collected fiction and poetry; but I still voted for that selection, because it includes so many masterpieces of Gothic literature, such as "The Fall of the House of Usher." I'm inclined to side with Christine's more inclusive approach.

That said, I don't think that "Gothic" is the most accurate description of The Island of Dr. Moreau. Wells was a writer of the Romantic school (in his own time, his novels were called "scientific romances"), and he certainly evoked fear and dread in that novel. IMO, though, it doesn't have a traditionally Gothic setting or subject matter. But maybe I'm just nit-picking! :-)


message 5: by Wallace (new)

Wallace What about Beloved? Am I completely off base? Why is Beloved considered a gothic novel. Also, doesn't gothic refer to a specific time period? There is some fairly modern literature on this list...


message 6: by Werner (new)

Werner Coconut Library, I haven't read Beloved, so I'll let somebody else comment on that. But as to your question about the time period, the answer, at least as far as the publishing industry and book trade is concerned (I'm a librarian, so I have to keep up with that milieu), is "no." The Gothic school of fiction originated in the late 1700s; but literature written later --even books being written today-- are still called "Gothic" if they have the same characteristics.


message 7: by Wallace (new)

Wallace Werner wrote: "Coconut Library, I haven't read Beloved, so I'll let somebody else comment on that. But as to your question about the time period, the answer, at least as far as the publishing industry and book t..."

Thanks... good to know.


message 8: by Seth (new)

Seth I demand more Shirley Jackson. She is right up there with Poe himself. The Sundial please.


message 9: by Werner (new)

Werner Actually, Seth, it isn't only the person who created this list (whoever he/she is) who can add books to it --you, and the rest of us, can too. So, you can consider yourself duly authorized to see that Ms. Jackson gets the representation here that she deserves. (I haven't read The Sundial myself, but I sure voted for The Haunting of Hill House!)


message 10: by Seth (new)

Seth Thanks Werner. :)


message 11: by Kristy (new)

Kristy Cassidy I think the best darkest and most Gothic tale was Bram Stoker's Dracula. Vlad was truly evil in every sense and even love wasn't strong enough to smother the demon inside him.


message 12: by Jantien (new)

Jantien Cool list, this provides me with lots of ideas for new books to read!

One thing... As much as I love Germinal - I wouldn't consider it Gothic in any way. If I'd want to put a label on it, I would rather say it's realist, naturalist or socialist.


message 13: by E (new)

E Hi guys, bit of a loose end now. I am trying desperately to think of some ideas for an extended essay on Gothic Novels. I was thinking along the lines of gender differences for authors or within the novels themselves. Any of you lovely people fancy giving me any more ideas? Get in contact with me however you like! Much appreciated!


message 14: by Joanna (new)

Joanna 'Beloved' does not belong on this list.


message 15: by kasia (new)

kasia Beloved often gets read in relation to the Gothic by lit scholars, and does feature a lot of tropes usually found in Gothic lit (like ghosts). Clarissa, on the other hand, is not Gothic at all. I would love to hear why the five people who voted for it feel that it belongs on this list.


message 16: by Leslie (new)

Leslie I think that the graphic novel of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" should be replaced with the actual book, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving... I suspect a lot of people voted for this thinking it was the original book (I know I almost did)


message 17: by Werner (new)

Werner Done, Leslie! Thanks for catching that mistake.


message 18: by Noel (new)

Noel Yale Lem's Solaris isn't a Gothic book, why is it in this list?


message 19: by Anitha (new)

Anitha Reghunathan I think you should also include Patrick McGrath's "Grotesque" and "Dr.Haggard's Disease".


message 20: by Werner (new)

Werner Anitha, you can add those yourself! Just click on the "add books" link near the top, and then use the search function to bring up the titles you want to add.

Noel, I haven't read Solaris (so, of course, I'm not the person who added it here!). But I have read a friend's review of it, and I'd have to say that while it's not traditionally Gothic, the plot and premise DO make use of some basic Gothic tropes. The lonely, isolated research station with its handful of humans functions as a sort of haunted house, and the protagonist sees hallucinations (or are they hallucinations?) of a dead love interest while he grapples with an ominous-seeming mystery. I could see how whoever put it on this list could reasonably argue that it's appropriate.


message 21: by Alyne (new)

Alyne Winter Pleas add The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
I hope someday my novel Mara, Book One of The Roses of the Moon will make this list!


message 22: by Alyne (new)

Alyne Winter Also The Bloody Chamber and Magic Toy Shop by Angela Carter also ed as Blood by Tanith Lee and her Secret Books of Paradys. Must be on here! :)


message 23: by Werner (new)

Werner Alyne, The Turn of the Screw is already on this list (it's number 41). You can add the ones by Carter and Lee yourself. And best wishes for success with Mara!


message 24: by Rhiannon (new)

Rhiannon Schembri Aren't some of these more... historical horror than gothic?


message 25: by Iris (new)

Iris great list....much appreciated! great way to find books in the genre i'm interested in....found some great creepy horrors on this list also.


message 26: by David (new)

David Nice list but I'm pretty sure Lovecraft and his fellow Weird authors are fairly far removed from the Gothic definition. Granted Otranto has the mysterious limb of the Galactus-sized Giant in the hall so perhaps I'm wrong in this belief.


message 27: by Pd (new)

Pd great list indeed


message 28: by MomToKippy (new)

MomToKippy Does "gothic" refer to writing from a certain era or about a certain era or is it only the stylistic elements described above? Can a story that takes place in the present time be considered gothic?? thanks!


message 29: by MomToKippy (new)

MomToKippy Rhiannon wrote: "Aren't some of these more... historical horror than gothic?"
I'd like to know too.


message 30: by Werner (new)

Werner As I understand it, the term Gothic refers to a particular literary style/subgenre. So yes, a book that exhibits those kinds of characteristics is Gothic, regardless of when it's written.


message 31: by Nevey (new)

Nevey MomToKippy wrote: "Does "gothic" refer to writing from a certain era or about a certain era or is it only the stylistic elements described above? Can a story that takes place in the present time be considered gothic..."

It's mostly about the elements no matter when or where the story takes place. There is also Gothic Horror as sub genre.


message 32: by Fantasy (new)

Fantasy Nebula I voted for Bram Stoker's Dracula because I believe it holds the top spot of gothic masterpieces. The first book that actually made me feel multiple emotions on every single page it hung onto every word. I still can't stop talking about how much I loved this book. Dracula is the book I be seen reading on my death bed.


message 33: by Alice (new)

Alice B Gothic isn't gothic without a castle, monastery, convent, some living architecture with its own secrets. Haunting of Hill House is the best example.
http://flickeringlamps.com/2015/04/03...
Go here to see Walpole's house.


message 34: by George (new)

George Rife The Shadow of the Wind, which I've read, is not listed as Gothic genre on it's Goodreads listing page, and I don't see it as belonging, it's more of a creepy mystery.


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