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.
1

by
4.13 avg rating — 1,613,888 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
2

by
3.86 avg rating — 1,332,597 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
3

by
3.81 avg rating — 1,153,300 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
4

by
4.23 avg rating — 442,618 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
5

by
3.82 avg rating — 379,637 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
6

by
3.96 avg rating — 196,946 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
7

by
3.99 avg rating — 130,231 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
8

by
3.96 avg rating — 270,934 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
9

by
3.99 avg rating — 114,524 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
10

by
3.84 avg rating — 155,348 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
11

by
3.82 avg rating — 43,675 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
12

by
3.81 avg rating — 22,162 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
13

by
3.43 avg rating — 99,466 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
14

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 169,661 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
15

by
3.18 avg rating — 22,852 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
16

by
4.12 avg rating — 251,478 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
17

by
3.98 avg rating — 38,431 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
18

by
3.38 avg rating — 12,910 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
19

by
4.11 avg rating — 93,156 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
20

by
3.72 avg rating — 47,139 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
21

by
3.73 avg rating — 48,534 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
22

by
3.54 avg rating — 43,552 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
23

by
3.74 avg rating — 5,721 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
24

by
3.45 avg rating — 34,326 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
25

by
3.97 avg rating — 38,227 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
26

by
4.29 avg rating — 100,293 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
27

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 927,590 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
28

by
3.71 avg rating — 4,195 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
29

by
4.16 avg rating — 6,270 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
30

by
4.08 avg rating — 956,866 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
31

by
3.99 avg rating — 8,335 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
32

by
3.90 avg rating — 8,113 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
33

by
3.51 avg rating — 4,545 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
34

by
3.87 avg rating — 31,454 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
35

by
3.75 avg rating — 4,923 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
36

by
3.76 avg rating — 20,066 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
37

by
3.84 avg rating — 2,066 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
38

by
3.88 avg rating — 66,094 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
39

by
3.67 avg rating — 7,117 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
40

by
3.74 avg rating — 21,360 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
41

by
3.38 avg rating — 4,941 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
42

by
3.29 avg rating — 5,332 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
43

by
3.84 avg rating — 4,434 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
44

by
3.91 avg rating — 5,713 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
45

by
3.89 avg rating — 16,342 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
46

by
3.64 avg rating — 2,304 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
47

by
3.85 avg rating — 9,035 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
48

by
4.10 avg rating — 7,361 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
49

by
3.88 avg rating — 4,981 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
50

by
3.71 avg rating — 8,814 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
51

by
3.96 avg rating — 4,898 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
52

by
3.89 avg rating — 3,350 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
53

by
3.84 avg rating — 9,436 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
54

by
3.68 avg rating — 2,918 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
55

by
3.61 avg rating — 1,692 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
56

by
3.82 avg rating — 5,885 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
57

by
4.04 avg rating — 41,810 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
58

by
3.84 avg rating — 3,922 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
59

by
3.94 avg rating — 43,989 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
60

by
4.25 avg rating — 55,243 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
61

by
3.90 avg rating — 5,439 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
62

by
4.03 avg rating — 12,916 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
63

by
3.80 avg rating — 5,623 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
64

by
3.72 avg rating — 34,124 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
65

by
4.19 avg rating — 6,884 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
66

by
4.11 avg rating — 2,789 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
67

by
3.84 avg rating — 3,014 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
68

by
3.74 avg rating — 2,229 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
69

by
4.06 avg rating — 1,235 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
70

by
3.96 avg rating — 736 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
71

by
3.41 avg rating — 1,513 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
72

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 10,978 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
73

by
4.08 avg rating — 27,617 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
74

by
3.51 avg rating — 2,366 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
75

by
4.03 avg rating — 11,926 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
76

by
4.08 avg rating — 1,141 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
77

by
3.82 avg rating — 614 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
78

by
3.56 avg rating — 1,592 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
79

by
3.92 avg rating — 2,773 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
80

by
3.35 avg rating — 2,491 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
81

by
3.84 avg rating — 2,878 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
82

by
3.97 avg rating — 43,346 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
83

by
3.63 avg rating — 4,404 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
84

by
3.47 avg rating — 3,994 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
85

by
3.78 avg rating — 2,220 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
86

by
3.91 avg rating — 15,702 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
87

by
3.96 avg rating — 5,586 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
88

by
3.70 avg rating — 332 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
88

by
4.08 avg rating — 4,194 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
90

by
3.77 avg rating — 384 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
91

by
3.76 avg rating — 2,353 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
91

by
3.73 avg rating — 9,584 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
93

by
3.89 avg rating — 3,284 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
94

by
3.71 avg rating — 2,343 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
95

by
3.56 avg rating — 6,431 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
96

by
3.40 avg rating — 4,016 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
97

by
3.73 avg rating — 294 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
98

by
3.80 avg rating — 2,000 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
99

by
really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 408 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
100

by
3.87 avg rating — 24,076 ratings
Rate this book
Clear rating
flag this list (?)
314 books · 2,858 voters · list created December 15th, 2008 by Rachel (votes) .
1265 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Rachel 426 books
28 friends
Julenew 615 books
114 friends
Cathy 1860 books
95 friends
Corine 268 books
126 friends
Clarice 242 books
39 friends
Andy 452 books
92 friends
Laura 11932 books
296 friends
Ana 581 books
39 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-43 of 43 (43 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

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 J10 (new)

J10 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 Neveen (new)

Neveen 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 Hildaguard (new)

Hildaguard  Houdini 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 P. (new)

George P. 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.


message 35: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Inheritance by Tom Savage. I don't know if it completely fits the genre, but it's as close as I have found in recent books. Excellent book, anyway, regardless, but to me it was gothic.


message 36: by Mary (new)

Mary Gothic fiction, which is largely known by the subgenre of Gothic horror, is a genre or mode of literature and film that combines fiction and horror, death, and at times romance or happiness. Its origin is attributed to English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, subtitled (in its second edition) "A Gothic Story". Wikipedia


The rockabilly werewolf from Mars I'm not quite sure why The Catcher In The Rye is on this. It has been a while since I read it, but I don't recall anything especially gothic about it.


message 38: by Werner (new)

Werner The rockabilly werewolf from Mars wrote: "I'm not quite sure why The Catcher In The Rye is on this. It has been a while since I read it, but I don't recall anything especially gothic about it."

My guess is that putting it on this list was somebody's idea of a joke. I'm a Goodreads librarian, so I can delete it, if you'll tell me what number it is on the list. (That'll save me some time hunting for it!)


message 39: by Werner (new)

Werner The rockabilly werewolf from Mars wrote: "I'm not quite sure why The Catcher In The Rye is on this. It has been a while since I read it, but I don't recall anything especially gothic about it."

Since this comment was posted, I've discovered that there are LOTS of books on this list that don't have anything especially Gothic about them, not just this one! In the last two days, I've probably deleted at least two dozen improperly added books, and expect to delete a lot more.

"Gothic" might be a hard term for many modern readers to define, but the list description gives you a convenient rule to follow: add only books that list "Gothic" as a genre on the book's main Goodreads page. Not every book set in the historical past, or every book that involves a murder mystery, or even every book with a supernatural premise, is automatically "Gothic!" (And just because an author wrote one Gothic novel doesn't necessarily make everything else that he/she ever wrote automatically "Gothic," either.)


message 40: by Werner (new)

Werner The Catcher in the Rye has been found and deleted!


message 41: by Jon (new)

Jon Bergquist Werner, I appreciate the work you've done on cleaning up the list. It needed it. But it appears that a lot of books that most fans of the genre would consider 'gothic' are no longer there. The most apparent example being Dracula, which was at one time in the forefront on this list. If the main consideration for a book's inclusion is it having the genre listing of Gothic on its book page, is there a way to make such a thing happen? I have considered this list a valuable resource for finding good reads for some time. And will consider it so still. Just not quite so highly as I once did. Thanks for listening (er, reading... :)


message 42: by Werner (new)

Werner Jon wrote: "If the main consideration for a book's inclusion is it having the genre listing of Gothic on its book page, is there a way to make such a thing happen?"

Jon, good question! There is; but one person can't do it alone. When you join Goodreads, the program automatically sets your bookshelves up with three basic shelves (read, currently reading, and to read). But many people go on to create customized shelves of their own, sometimes by genre (including "Gothic"). Some very simple, generic shelf names, like Gothic, are used by a LOT of people, even though they don't coordinate with each other.

On the book records, where a list of "Genres" is supplied, the Goodreads program apparently lists every customized shelf name (like "Gothic," "Fiction," "Horror," etc.) that a certain number of people have all shelved the book as. (I don't know how large that number has to be.) The more people who have a "Gothic" shelf (I don't myself) and list a particular book on it, the more likely it is that Goodreads will list "Gothic" as one of the book's genres.

"Gothic" can be a relatively subjective term, not as cut-and-dried and easy to define as some even for people who know literature; and many other people are relatively clueless about what it is (as some of their list additions demonstrate!) I don't know the list creator, Rachel; but I'm guessing she set up that criteria as a way of bringing in an objective yardstick, and replacing idiosyncratic individual judgement with the collective perspective of many readers (in the hope that the latter would be more likely to be accurate).

All of that said, I can see Gothic elements in Dracula, though I personally usually associate "Gothic" with something set strictly in or around one particular sinister building. If you want to re-add it, I won't delete it again, even if it's not on the requisite number of people's "Gothic" shelves. :-)

Hope this helps!


message 43: by Werner (last edited Oct 31, 2019 04:25PM) (new)

Werner Just by way of update, Dracula is on the list as #158. It doesn't look like a recent re-addition, so I'm guessing it wasn't deleted after all.


back to top



Related News

It’s time to turn your attention to something dark and twisty, to a story (or two or three) so engaging, the pages just fly by. In short, it’s...

Anyone can add books to this list.