Our Favourite Gothic Novels and Scary Stories (and Kate Bush)

• Oct 31, 2011 •

I thought we’d get into the Halloween spirit today and talk about some of our favourite Gothic works and scary stories.

If your looking for something suitably supernatural for this spooky time of year, then why not try some of these recommendations from the team at 4th Estate?


Saki, The Complete Short Stories – Chosen by 4th Estate Editor Mark Richards

I was first read Saki stories by a teacher during those exciting, maddening end-of-term days; and they were better than any video would have been. Short, sharp and magnificently nasty, they suited a schoolboy’s temperament perfectly, especially, of course, the story Sredni Vashtar, well worth five minutes of your time right now (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~rgs/sk-vashtar.html).

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Chosen by 4th Estate Publishing Director Nicholas Pearson

Of course it has to be Frankenstein. We’re all of us just cobbled together, all a bit lost in the world, aren’t we?

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe – Chosen by Editorial Assistant Olly Rowse

In Poe’s claustrophobic, queasy little story an unnamed narrator murders an old man, dismembering and placing him under the floorboards. When the police arrive to enquire about certain screams, he maintains insouciance, offering them a seat on the very spot where the old man lies buried. But soon he thinks he hears the sound of the old man’s

O Caledonia! By Elspeth Barker – Chosen by Editorial Director Clare Reihill

The story of Janet a young Scottish child with the most fertile vivid imagination being brought up in a remote Scottish castle. She is burdened with a dreadful family including two younger siblings and lots of other characters who cause her extreme feelings of alienation – so she retreats to the dark…  So atmospheric and written in highly lyrical, poetic prose. Elspeth Barker was the widow of the poet George Barker and this book promised a long career as a novelist but she never wrote another.

The Monk by Matthew Lewis- Chosen by Publicity Manager Rebecca McEwan

If you want to get into the spirit for Halloween this book has every gothic cliché going, from pregnant nuns to murder in the grave-yard crypt.  Set in a creepy monastery, it tells the tale of the monk Ambrosio whose obsession with his sister leads him into all kinds evil. He is aided along the way by a demon disguised as an angelic-looking novice, and if that sounds melodramatic the sub-plots are even more bizarre. You can’t help but laugh out loud which may not have been Lewis’s intention but for a retro-gothic read it can’t be beaten!

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë – Chosen by Marketing Manager Sam Shone

A classic of English literature, I first read ‘Wuthering Heights’ in my first year at university and absolutely hated it. I can just remember how annoying and detestable I found all of the characters. When asked what I had though of the book in a  seminar I launched into a tirade about how awful the characters are, how heatable and how cruel, and it suddenly dawned on me how much I enjoyed hating them. It really is an incredible novel to provoke such strong feelings in the reader. And besides, Kate Bush turned it into one of the most entertaining songs and music videos of all time.

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