The best books set in the best mysterious manors

Shaenon K. Garrity Author Of The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor
By Shaenon K. Garrity

The Books I Picked & Why

Castle Waiting

By Linda Medley

Book cover of Castle Waiting

Why this book?

A pregnant noblewoman fleeing a less than happy happily-ever-after finds her way to Castle Waiting, an overgrown castle that’s become a haven for forgotten figures from fairy tales, folklore, and myth. Much of this unbelievably absorbing comic is spent simply exploring the castle and following the residents in their day-to-day lives. And what better way is there to spend one’s time? Linda Medley’s immersive artwork, with its flavor of old-fashioned woodcuts and classical book illustrations, makes Castle Waiting look like the perfect place to rest between adventures, or maybe stay and become one of the long-term residents.

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The End of Summer

By Tillie Walden

Book cover of The End of Summer

Why this book?

In a dreamlike fantasy world, a royal family holes up for the three-year winter in their vast, quiet palace. As the winter wends on, cabin fever sets in, but at least the young twins of the family have their giant cat Nemo to keep them company. Even if things don’t go so well for the characters, the palace, with its enormous baths, masses of eiderdown quilts, and mile-high windows for watching the snow fall, feels like a cozy place to spend a chilly night—or several hundred. Tillie Walden is a stunning talent, and in her debut graphic novel, created while she was still in art school, she emerges as a fully-formed artist with a personal, intimate style.

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I Capture the Castle

By Dodie Smith

Book cover of I Capture the Castle

Why this book?

If you can’t decide whether you’d rather live like a Jane Austen character or a Bronte character, but you don’t have the income for either, split the difference and join the bohemian Montmain family. Two bookish teenage sisters live in a crumbling castle with their once-famous author father, their whimsical nymph of a stepmother, their genius little brother, and a handsome boy conveniently living on the premises. The girls are ready to stop reading about love and start living it, and right on cue two eligible bachelors show up. This book exudes summer, the one time of year when living in a rural English ruin with no money for heating oil could feel romantic.

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By Daphne du Maurier

Book cover of Rebecca

Why this book?

The classics endure for a reason, and Manderley remains the epitome of Gothic manors to die for, or over. Striking the perfect balance between desirable and disturbing, the rhododendron-flanked de Winter estate draws the nameless heroine of Rebecca under its spell from the moment she enters. Unfortunately, Maxim de Winter has chosen to be cagey to his new wife about his previous marriage to the magnetic Rebecca, not to mention how exactly she passed away, leaving the second Mrs. Winter to navigate deadly levels of unresolved drama. But forget Mr. de Winter: this is the story of two women, one dead and one (barely) living, fighting over a prime piece of real estate. 

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ott

Book cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Why this book?

Sisters Merricat and Constance, along with their sickly Uncle Julian, don’t really live in a castle; their New England estate is a once-stately mansion which Merricat now protects with magic spells. It’s been just the three of them since the rest of the family died of strawberries seasoned from a poisoned sugar bowl, which everyone in town blames on Constance, but how could that sweet-faced young lady be a murderer? When reading Jackson’s gleefully wicked modern Gothic novel, keep reminding yourself that, as appealing as it may seem, barricading yourself from society in a crumbling manse with your unhinged murder family is probably not the solution to your problems.

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