The most recommended Gothic fiction

Who picked these books? Meet our 396 experts.

396 authors created a book list connected to Gothic fiction, and here are their favorite Gothic fiction books.
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Book cover of The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Tyler R. Tichelaar Author Of Vampire Grooms and Spectre Brides: The Marriage of French and British Gothic Literature, 1789-1897

From my list on classic French gothic you probably never heard of.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been attracted to the Gothic before I even knew the term. From watching The Munsters as a child to wanting to live in a haunted house and devouring classic Gothic novels like The Mysteries of Udolpho and Dracula, I’ve never been able to get enough of the Gothic. After fully exploring British Gothic in my book The Gothic Wanderer, I discovered the French Gothic tradition, which made me realize how universal the genre is. Everyone can relate to its themes of fear, death, loss, guilt, forgiveness, and redemption. On some level, we are all Gothic wanderers, trying to find meaning in what is too often a nightmarish world.

Tyler's book list on classic French gothic you probably never heard of

Tyler R. Tichelaar Why did Tyler love this book?

You may know this book as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but you probably don’t really know it. Films, most notably the Disney cartoon, have grossly distorted this novel, often having Esmeralda ride off into the sunset with Phoebus. But the novel is really a very dark, Gothic story of love and lust, and one of the first existential novels. Frollo and Quasimodo both love Esmeralda, but she loves Phoebus, and he only loves himself. In the end, everyone dies, allowing their lust to destroy their common sense. Hugo wrote it to help popularize and save Notre-Dame Cathedral from falling into further disrepair. It influenced British author William Harrison Ainsworth to write The Tower of London, thus revitalizing British Gothic in a new way just as it did French Gothic.

By Victor Hugo, Lucy Corvino (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Hunchback of Notre Dame as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Victor Hugo's great story of Quasimodo, the deformed bell ringer of Notre Dame and his unrequited love for the dancer, Esmeralda. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colourful comic strip form, offering an excellent introduction for younger readers. This edition also includes theme discussions and study questions, which can be used both in the classroom and at home to further engage the reader in the story.


Book cover of Marvelous

Deborah Kalb Author Of Off to Join the Circus

From Deborah's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Voracious reader Book blogger Ex-journalist New podcaster

Deborah's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Deborah Kalb Why did Deborah love this book?

So this is another historical novel based on actual people—do you see a theme here?

Marvelous is also set in Europe during the Renaissance, and it focuses on a Beauty and the Beast-style story. Pedro Gonzalez is a curiosity at court, being covered in hair. He’s married to the young and lovely Catherine, and the novel explores how the two of them come to care for each other. The couple and their children are treated as not quite human, and their story is both tragic and inspiring.

By Molly Greeley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Enchanting. Molly Greeley has pulled off a piece of magic to tell a dazzling love story about the outcast's ache to be cared for and belong. This book broke my heart and put it back together again."--Allison Epstein, author of A Tip for the Hangman

A mesmerizing novel set in the French royal court of Catherine de’ Medici during the Renaissance, which recreates the touching and surprising true story behind the Beauty and the Beast legend, from the acclaimed author of The Clergyman’s Wife and The Heiress. 

1547: Pedro Gonzales, a young boy living on the island of Tenerife, understands…


Book cover of The Searcher

Peter Carruthers Author Of Human Motives: Hedonism, Altruism, and the Science of Affect

From Peter's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Philosopher Cognitive scientist Writer Husband Hiker

Peter's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Peter Carruthers Why did Peter love this book?

I read a lot of detective fiction, and this turned out to be one of my favorites.

It centers around a retired Chicago policeman who is trying to rebuild his life (and the house he has bought) deep in the Irish countryside, where he gets drawn into the mysterious disappearance of a young man. The story itself is gripping, the central characters are engaging, and the descriptions of the Irish hedgerows and fields (and rain) are lush and evocative. (Almost good enough to make me want to go back there.)

By Tana French,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Searcher as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Terrific - terrifying, amazing' STEPHEN KING
'Completely, indescribably magnificent' MARIAN KEYES
-----

A DISAPPEARANCE. A SMALL TOWN. A QUESTION THAT NEEDS ANSWERING...

Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do…


Book cover of The Last Tale of the Flower Bride

Liz Michalski Author Of Darling Girl

From Liz's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Reader Fairytale lover Beekeeper Nature wanderer Big brown dog fan

Liz's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Liz Michalski Why did Liz love this book?

Ever been at a sleepover? The lights are low, the wind is rustling outside, and someone starts telling a spine-chilling story they swear is true?

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride gives those vibes. Rich and dark and a throwback to my old teen favorites like Down a Dark Hall and Flowers in the Attic, but adult and twisted and terrifying and beautiful. A fairytale in the true sense, with its midnight heart exposed, and at the same time lovely and lyrical. Like nothing else I read all year.

By Roshani Chokshi,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Last Tale of the Flower Bride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Gorgeous and ornate' Holly Black

'Lingers like a fever dream' V.E. Schwab

Do not look. Do not ask. Do not pry.

A sumptuous, gothic story about an obsessive female friendship cursed to end in tragedy, a marriage unraveled by dark secrets, and the danger of believing in fairy tales - the breathtaking adult debut from New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi.

Once upon a time, a man who believed in fairy tales married a beautiful, mysterious woman named Indigo Maxwell-Castenada. He was a scholar of myths. She was heiress to a fortune. They exchanged gifts and stories and believed…


Book cover of House of Hunger

Marielle Thompson Author Of Where Ivy Dares to Grow

From Marielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Gothic lover Witchy feminist Romantic Literary history buff

Marielle's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Marielle Thompson Why did Marielle love this book?

This was one of those "stay up all night, call out of work so you can read just one more chapter" kind of books.

Henderson is an absolute master of worldbuilding and suspense, and her take on vampire lore perfectly showcases this. This story of a lower-class "blood maid" moving into a Victorian manor home in service of a mysterious, vampiric employer had such phenomenal explorations of class differences and power imbalance, absolutely bubbling sensual tension, and so many twists that I often had to put the book down and stare at a wall to digest.

I adored the way that queerness was an accepted and ingrained part of this world, along with the examples of female friendship and the steampunk Victorian gothic vibes throughout.

By Alexis Henderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked House of Hunger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NOMINATED FOR BEST HORROR NOVEL in the GOODREADS READERS CHOICE AWARDS...

'A lurid, luscious debauch of a book.' Guardian

'An unforgettable feast of decadence and depravity, House of Hunger cements Henderson's place as one of the great gothic writers of our generation.' S T GIBSON, author of A Dowry of Blood

A young woman is drawn into the upper echelons of a society where blood is power in this dark and enthralling Gothic novel from the author of The Year of the Witching.

WANTED: A bloodmaid of exceptional taste. Must have a keen proclivity for life's finer pleasures. Girls of…


Book cover of The Picture of Dorian Gray

Shobana Mahadevan Author Of A Marriage Knot: A Tangled Love Story

From my list on classical books that teach you about psychology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started reading classical books at a very young age. Granted, I did not understand a lot of things then. Rereading the same books again after years made me realize that more than what the author was trying to convey, my maturity made a world of difference when reading a book. It was the same text but with entirely different contexts and perspectives. I love old books. Books that take me back a century or more. It gives me an insight into how people lived, thought, and felt back then. It helps me connect with people across centuries.

Shobana's book list on classical books that teach you about psychology

Shobana Mahadevan Why did Shobana love this book?

“We deserve beautiful things! Whatever the cost!” “We are created to enjoy this world,” and “Pure enjoyment has no repercussions!”. 

The book challenges these assumptions. It hints that we are not created just for pleasure. We all have our own work in this world–however small it might be. And when we are in this world–we should look out for our fellow beings, treat nature with respect, and work for the betterment of all. Pleasure at someone else’s cost is a base life with no meaning. A huge loss! 

It is a wonderful book that discusses the repercussions of pure pleasure and makes us think about the meaning of life. 

By Oscar Wilde,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Picture of Dorian Gray as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A triumph of execution ... one of the best narratives of the "double life" of a Victorian gentleman' Peter Ackroyd

Oscar Wilde's alluring novel of decadence and sin was a succes de scandale on publication. It follows Dorian Gray who, enthralled by his own exquisite portrait, exchanges his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Influenced by his friend Lord Henry Wotton, he is drawn into a corrupt double life, indulging his desires in secret while remaining a gentleman in the eyes of polite society. Only his portrait bears the traces of his depravity. This definitive edition includes a selection of…


Book cover of A Stitch in Time

Alison Blasdell Author Of The Confederates' Physician

From my list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love reading novels that take me to another time, place, or adventure (an antithesis to my 30-year career as a professor teaching physiology & pathophysiology to medical and nursing students). I read for entertainment and variety. As an author, I write books I'd like to read! Drawn to history, I've written five historical romances—a woman of courage, intellect, and compassion at the heart of each. I've authored two contemporary espionage thrillers with a woman as the protagonist. I enjoy stepping out of the bounds of empiricism in my novels, blending genres, and stretching the imagination.

Alison's book list on historic romance to wish you lived in the past

Alison Blasdell Why did Alison love this book?

I love historical fiction that adds an element of fantasy, magical realism, or time travel. I like the expansion of the mind that accompanies appreciation of these novels. (Yes, I admit that appreciation guided me in writing one of my series in the historical/romance/fantasy blended genre.) A Stitch in Time is a time travel novel of romance in which the heroine slips through time to the Victorian English countryside. She moves back and forth from the present to the past. The story is complete with a haunted manor house, ghosts, mystery, and love unbounded by time.

If my description seems banal, I apologize, for this is an intelligently crafted story. The author's sentences are beautifully written, leading the readers into the inner thoughts of the character. I just recently discovered this prolific author, and I'm a big fan!

By Kelley Armstrong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Stitch in Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thorne Manor has always been haunted…and it has always haunted Bronwyn Dale. As a young girl, Bronwyn could pass through a time slip in her great-aunt’s house, where she visited William Thorne, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. After a family tragedy, the house was shuttered and Bronwyn was convinced that William existed only in her imagination. Now, twenty years later Bronwyn inherits Thorne Manor. And when she returns, William is waiting. William Thorne is no longer the boy she remembers. He’s a difficult and tempestuous man, his own life marred by tragedy and a scandal that…


Book cover of The Doll Maker

James Stoorie Author Of AfterWitch

From my list on supernaturally troubled teenagers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As long as I can remember I have found the world a terrifying yet magical place. My first memories are of reading ghost stories, the best mirrors for my emotional experiences. As a teenager supernatural tales continued to inspire me and still do. Sometimes a starkly realistic approach can prove too dull or intrusive; far better to process or confront issues by presenting them as fantastical. When I return to these books, or discover similar stories, I listen hard to what they are trying to tell me. I won’t learn overnight for, as the villain in The Doll Maker states: “the life so short, the craft so long to learn.”

James' book list on supernaturally troubled teenagers

James Stoorie Why did James love this book?

“He was at once The Evil and The Exorcist.” Considering the date of publication, a very modern account of grooming, toxic masculinity, and the objectification of women. Feeling deserted by family and friends, a bored boarding school girl entertains herself by sneaking out of the grounds after dark. One night in the woods she encounters an older man who claims to be an artist and invites her back to the workshop where he creates suspiciously lifelike dolls. Apparently oblivious to the fact he spouts creepy comments like “the craftsman must feel the willingness of his material” and undeterred by rumors of young girls going missing in the neighbourhood, our heroine embarks on a doomed (and vaguely BDSM) relationship with the stranger. An unforgettable novella about living dolls and manipulative relationships. 

By Sarban,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Doll Maker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Described by no less an authority than E.F. Bleiler as “excellent”, “The Doll Maker” is the story of Clare Lydgate, a young woman studying at boarding school for her Oxford scholarship examinations. In the evenings, she escapes the school grounds by climbing over the wall of Brackenbine Hall. It is here that she encounters the charismatic and mysterious Niall Sterne, the “Doll Maker” of the title. This is a subtle, intelligent and compelling tale of horror. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural describes Sarban’s stories as “nicely written, with solid characterizations, convincingly detailed backgrounds . . . and…


Book cover of Daisy Darker

Marie Still Author Of We're All Lying

From my list on whiplash inducing twists.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a reader and a writer, I am drawn to the darker side of human nature. Dysfunctional families, toxic relationships, liars, murderers, bring on the bad. An avid reader of horror and thrillers, I love a jaw-dropping twist. I aim for that feeling in my own novels, opening up reader questions and slowly delivering satisfying answers until the final big reveal. While inside my head is very dark and murdery, outside I live a very normal, law-abiding life, in Tampa with my husband, our four kids, and two dogs.  

Marie's book list on whiplash inducing twists

Marie Still Why did Marie love this book?

Sticking with the ‘could this family be any more toxic’ theme, Daisy Darker is another WTF did I just read thriller. A h/t to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the setting sets the mood right from the start. Nana’s house Seaglass is on an atmospheric island and includes quirky features like eighty clocks on one wall. The family’s bad behavior is called out when Nana reads her will, which is timely since the next morning she’s found dead. Alice Feeney has a brilliant way with words, she says the creepiest things in the most beautiful way.   

By Alice Feeney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daisy Darker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER*
"Alice Feeney is great with TWISTS and TURNS." —Harlan Coben

The NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR of Rock Paper Scissors returns with a locked-room mystery when a family reunion leads to murder in a delightfully twisty and atmospheric thriller, as seen on the TODAY show.

“A dysfunctional family meets Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None with a truly gasp-inducing twist. This is the book you've been looking for.” —Catherine Ryan Howard, bestselling author of 56 Days

Daisy Darker was born with a broken heart. Now after years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire…


Book cover of The Wine of Angels

Joe Talon Author Of Counting Crows

From my list on spooky minds and old soldiers who never give up.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written about war for years. To be honest, it all began in school when we studied the terrible events of The Great War. Hearing the hearts shatter of men on the frontline never left me. I wanted to understand. I needed to understand. PTSD is something I’m familiar with, even if I’ve never been on the front line in battle. I’m also obsessed with myths, legends, ghost stories, and mysteries. My Lorne Turner series combines my passions and the books shine a light, in fiction, on what happens to old soldiers when they come home.

Joe's book list on spooky minds and old soldiers who never give up

Joe Talon Why did Joe love this book?

This is where it all began. When I read this, I thought, I want to write a book like this one day. This long-running series is carefully crafted to walk the line between the real world and what might be out there, beyond the veil. They are cosy thrillers at their heart, I suppose, but the supernatural element adds a layer of spooky that darkens them, makes them more savage. The characters are wonderful, they can infuriate you at times, but they do not bore you. The locations, the weather, the buildings, they all play a part. These are very good British spooky thrillers.

By Phil Rickman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wine of Angels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE FIRST IN THE INCREDIBLE MERRILY WATKINS SERIES
Merrily Watkins: late thirties, single mum, parish priest. Cosy? I don't think so...

The new vicar had never wanted a picture-postcard parish - or a huge and haunted vicarage. Nor had she wanted to walk into a dispute over a controversial play about a seventeenth-century clergyman accused of witchcraft... a story that certain long-established families would rather remained obscure.

But this is Ledwardine, steeped in cider and secrets...

A paradise of cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. And also - as Merrily Watkins and her teenage daughter, Jane, discover - a village where…