Of course, it doesn’t need to be Halloween for you to read a gothic novel. Gothic is equally suited to relentless, cloud-free hot days as it is to long, gloomy nights . We read gothic not just for the atmosphere but to occupy the space between this world and the next and to feel the sense of fear at the unexplained or the unnatural. Here are three excellent books I’ve read recently that contain classic gothic tropes in a contemporary setting.
Fragile by Sarah Hilary
Former foster child, Nell Ballard, takes up a job in Starling Villas desperate to hide her background. However, her scheming to find a place she settle in might not be all her own doing when her employer Dr Robin Wilder is revealed to have his own secrets. Meanwhile, Nell is being hunted by Meagan, her former foster mother who blames Nell for her downfall. This is modern gothic at its best. Tense and beautifully written, with a nod to the dark side within us all.
The Last Time She Died by Zoe Sharp
I love Zoe Sharp’s crime novels as she writes such strong female characters. Her latest novel is no exception. Blake Claremont disappeared ten years ago and is presumed dead. Her reappearance after her politician father’s funeral shocks family and friends, not least those who killed her ten years earlier. With a nod to Tey’s Brat Farrar, this is a story of violence and treachery with Sharp’s compelling pacing. And, of course, I love the Derbyshire setting.
The Dark by Emma Haughton
The Antarctic provides a chilling backdrop to this thriller. A & E doctor, Kate North, replaces a medic who died on the ice near the research facility. Hiding an addiction and confused by the alliances which have formed at the station, Kate begins to think her colleague’s death wasn’t an accident. But there’s no where to escape to until spring. Tense and compelling, Haughton is great at portraying the claustrophobia and intensity of life in an inhospitable landscape.
Happy reading and Happy Halloween.