The best gothic novels for a perfectly haunting fall

Elle Griffin Author Of Obscurity
By Elle Griffin

Who am I?

I’m just a girl who fell in love with French literature: Les MiserablesThe Count of Monte CristoThe Phantom of the Opera. And then the associated Gothics: Dracula, A Christmas Carol, A Picture of Dorian Gray. Then I ran out. Apparently, there are only so many gothic novels one can find in 18th- and 19th-century writings—and I even read several of the more obscure ones. But I wasn’t done with the genre yet. I wanted one more gothic novel, with all the mystery of Edmond Dantès and with all the philosophical complexity of Jean-Valjean—but with a strong female protagonist and a lush Americana setting. So I wrote it myself.

I wrote...


By Elle Griffin,

Book cover of Obscurity

What is my book about?

Set amidst the wild palms of 1790s Louisiana, the widow St. Vincent appears in the wake of her husband’s death the wealthiest plantation owner in the South. But strange occurrences ensue in her wake and the town becomes obsessed with their superstitions about her. As they attempt to unravel the widow’s secrets, we find she knows something of their secrets as well and the philosophical underpinnings of their pasts all surface to haunt them all.

I’m publishing my novel as a serial, releasing one chapter a week exclusively for my newsletter subscribers here.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why


By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Book cover of Frankenstein

Why did I love this book?

There are not many gothic novels written by women—this one is the exception. While summering in Geneva with her lover and the writers Lord Byron and John William Polidori, stormy weather kept them inside with a book of ghost stories, which inspired them to write their own. “I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out,” Shelley recounted, “and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” She won the contest with one of the most haunting novels in existence.

By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley,

Why should I read it?

38 authors picked Frankenstein as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

'That rare story to pass from literature into myth' The New York Times

Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her lover Percy Shelley on Lake Geneva. The story of Victor Frankenstein who, obsessed with creating life itself, plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, but whose botched creature sets out to destroy his maker, would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity. Based on the third…


By Daphne du Maurier,

Book cover of Rebecca

Why did I love this book?

I haven’t actually read this one yet, but it’s next on my list for this sole statement about it: “The novel depicts an unnamed young woman who impetuously marries a wealthy widower, before discovering that both he and his household are haunted by the memory of his late first wife.” I mean, does it get any better? PLUS, there’s a movie out now starring Lily James so I’ll be catching up on that once I’m done.

By Daphne du Maurier,

Why should I read it?

34 authors picked Rebecca as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* 'The greatest psychological thriller of all time' ERIN KELLY
* 'One of the most influential novels of the twentieth century' SARAH WATERS
* 'It's the book every writer wishes they'd written' CLARE MACKINTOSH

'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .'

Working as a lady's companion, our heroine's outlook is bleak until, on a trip to the south of France, she meets a handsome widower whose proposal takes her by surprise. She accepts but, whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory…

Book cover of Interview with the Vampire

Why did I love this book?

I should mention that I am a huge fan of the movie—it's actually the movie that got me into the book. Mostly because, well, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise and Antonio Banderas as vampires—and tiny little Kirstin Dunst as the child vampire. And they are all hanging out in the most dramatic settings of old school New Orleans. And the book is just like that—only with all the deleted scenes. One of my all time favorites.

By Anne Rice,

Why should I read it?

14 authors picked Interview with the Vampire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Anne Rice, this sensuously written spellbinding classic remains 'the most successful vampire story since Bram Stoker's Dracula' (The Times)

In a darkened room a young man sits telling the macabre and eerie story of his life - the story of a vampire, gifted with eternal life, cursed with an exquisite craving for human blood.

When Interview with the Vampire was published the Washington Post said it was a 'thrilling, strikingly original work of the imagination . . . sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful, always unforgettable'. Now, more than forty years since its release, Anne…

Book cover of How Much of These Hills Is Gold

Why did I love this book?

I was sold on this book the moment two tiny little girls scooped up their dad’s dead body, put it in a bag, and started toting his remains around the west, his decaying bones clacking about in there wherever they went. This gold rush story is retold from the standpoint of two girls haunted by a past that was never theirs to begin with—and carries a subtle darkness that is beautiful to sink into.

By C. Pam Zhang,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked How Much of These Hills Is Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?




'The boldest debut of the year . . . It is refreshing to discover a new author of such grand scale, singular focus and blistering vision' Observer

America. In the twilight of the Gold Rush, two siblings cross a landscape with a gun in their hands and the body of their father on their backs . . .

Ba dies in the night, Ma is already gone. Lucy and Sam, twelve and eleven, are suddenly alone and on the…

Follow Me to Ground

By Sue Rainsford,

Book cover of Follow Me to Ground

Why did I love this book?

Nothing scary happens exactly, but that doesn’t stop this novel from holding a strange and creepy tension throughout the whole of it. With a heavy surrealist bent, the book centers on a girl and her father who were born from the ground, and so have the powers to heal people by moving around the things that are inside them. It’s exactly as haunting as it sounds.

By Sue Rainsford,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Follow Me to Ground as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A tangled, gnarled, wonderfully original, strange, beautiful beast of a book'
DAISY JOHNSON, author of Everything Under

'Beautiful and terrifying' SUNDAY TIMES

'Seethingly assured debut fuses magical realism with critical and feminist theory' GUARDIAN

In house in a wood, Ada and her father live peacefully, tending to their garden and the wildlife in it. They are not human though. Ada was made by her father from the Ground, a unique patch of earth with birthing and healing properties. Though perhaps he didn't get her quite right. They spend their days healing the local human folk - named Cures - who…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in romantic love, family secrets, and monsters?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about romantic love, family secrets, and monsters.

Romantic Love Explore 735 books about romantic love
Family Secrets Explore 156 books about family secrets
Monsters Explore 139 books about monsters