Today I would like to encourage you to add a Gothic novel or two to your reading list. Now, I understand you may be wary of diving into a genre that took off in the late 18th Century, but let me remind you that the 1790s were a cRaZy time (lots of French Revolution-related beheadings). Today, you may have noticed an intense fascination in monsters. Zombies are everywhere, even inserted in Jane Austen novels. The Twilight Series, featuring both a werewolf and a vampire is hugely successful. The Sookie Stackhouse series has become a hit television program. But I say none of these hold a candle (candles are kind of ominous) to some of the classic Gothic novels.
Check this out. Matthew Lewis’ The Monk was published in 1796 and caused quite a stir. So much so that Lewis and his publisher were indicted and the novel was essentially banned. No, there are no vampires. But you know what the novel does have? Evil Monks, wicked nuns, cross-dressers, hidden identities, black magic, magic mirrors, romance, duels, secret tombs in secret tunnels, seduction, lasciviousness, murder, ghost stories, the Inquisition, and the Devil himself! This is neither irony or hyperbole on my part. This novel is dark, creepy, and gripping. It has the added benefit of sometimes being so over the top that it is comical which can be a nice break. And here’s a bonus: it’s at the library!
The Monk by Matthew Lewis
Some other titles that are full of their own dark twists and turns:
- Three Gothic Novels (Wieland, or The Transformation, Arthur Mervyn or, Memoris of the Year 1793, and Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker) by Charles Brockeden Brown
- The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
- The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley