Spooky Gothic Books for Halloween | #BookBreak


Happy Halloween! We are getting spooky today on Book Break
with a collection of the best gothic literature and I’m going to dive right in and start with
the book that’s considered the first ever gothic novel and that’s The Castle of Otranto by Horace
Walpole. So The Castle of Otranto is this fabulous,
melodramatic thriller about a princess, a prophecy, a peasant who
steals two rival hearts, and a super climactic finish in an underground
church. So really everything that you need from a
gothic novel. And Horace Walpole, as well as being the author
of that book, also used to live here in the house I’m in today Strawberry Hill House. So he’s the one that transformed it from a
couple of cottages into his dream vision of a gothic castle complete with pinnacles and battlements It’s absolutely stunning, you should definitely
pay it a visit. It’s really famous as being Britain’s best
example of Gothic Revival architecture and I mean I’m just standing here today in
my dream gothic library. So if that’s where the whole genre of gothic
literature started, let’s now jump forward to a very modern gothic
tale, The Upstairs Room by Kate Murray-Browne. So this is about a family who buy their dream
house, this gorgeous Victorian house, but when they move in, they realise it is
not at all what they had hoped for. There is a really eery atmosphere in the house, they keep finding writing on the walls, and one by one all of their lives begin to
unravel. And the wife Eleanor is convinced that it
is all being caused by the house and that the house is actually making her
physically ill. And this is just one of my favourite type
of spooky books, where it’s constantly in question whether or not what’s happening is
actually supernatural or not or whether you can find another explanation
for it and there’s just enough hints dropped along
the way to help you decide for yourself. It really gave me chills reading this one. Now The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal
is this brilliant gothic thriller meets romance set in Victorian London in the build up to
the Great Exhibition. And we have two parallel storylines to follow
here. There’s the story of Iris, who’s an aspiring
artist who meets Louis Frost, one of the Pre-Raphaelite artists, and agrees to model for him in exchange for
painting lessons. But then while all of that lovely story of
art is going on, we also follow Silas, who’s a collector who after one very brief
encounter with Iris became completely obsessed with her. And it just gets so tense and so gripping
and these storylines get closer and closer to meeting building all the way up to a super dramatic
ending. Next up, a Victorian ghost story, The Silent
Companions by Laura Purcell. So this is about a woman named Elsie, who
is widowed just weeks into her new marriage, so she suddenly finds herself alone and pregnant heading to her late husband’s country estate. When she gets there, all the villagers are
really hostile to her, the servants are really resentful of her, and she finds herself pretty unhappily holed
away in this giant house. Until one day, she finds in a room, a creepy
painted wooden figure that bears an uncanny resemblance to herself. So this is a proper gothic ghost story and as it goes along, these wooden figures,
which are called silent companions become a very unwanted haunting presence throughout
the book. Do not read this one too late at night. Another one that’s been really popular is
Melmoth. So this is Sarah Perry’s reimagining of a
classic gothic novel, Melmoth the Wanderer from 1820, which is about a man who sold his soul to
the devil in exchange for 150 years more on Earth. But in Sarah Perry’s version, Melmoth is a
woman, this mythological woman who allegedly was
doomed to wander the earth alone forever capturing unhappy souls to steal away. And our main character Helen thinks this is
all just a myth that her friend Karel is completely obsessed with, until Karel disappears… So this is a really haunting, atmospheric
novel, where the scariest monsters of all are actually
the ordinary humans. Now the queen of gothic historical fiction
has to be Kate Morton, and The Clockmaker’s Daughter is my absolute
favourite of hers. So this is all centred around a manor house
called Birchwood Manor, and the different people who’ve lived there
through the generations. So we get loads of different timelines, there’s also this narration that threads through
it all from the clockmaker’s daughter, who is this ghostly presence who has been
at the house the whole time and oversees everything. And all the different timelines weave together
just so perfectly, and the secret of who the clockmaker’s daughter
is when it comes out, is just wonderfully haunting. Then my next book is The Familiars by Stacey
Halls. So this is about a woman named Fleetwood Shuttleworth,
great name by the way, and this was the real name of a real woman who finds herself pregnant again after none
of her previous pregnancies have been successful. And then she reads a doctor’s letter that
she wasn’t supposed to see warning that she will not survive another
pregnancy. Then she meets this midwife named Alice, who
promises Fleetwood she can help her deliver a healthy baby but then Alice is accused of witchcraft. So then we dive into the 1612 witch trials, and it’s this amazing, feminist exploration
of how witch-hunting was, so much of the time, actually just woman-hunting. And then it’s also this really gripping story
about Fleetwood’s quest to free Alice before it’s too late for both of them. Now I’ve got a book here that isn’t actually
out until March, but while I’m talking about spooky gothic literature I couldn’t not mention
it. I’m reading it at the moment and I’m absolutely
hooked. So while you’re in the spooky mood it might
be a good time to pre-order it. This is The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane
Healey. So this is about a woman who’s put in charge
of the evacuation of all of the mammal collection from the Natural History Museum to a manor house to keep them safe during
WW2. So already we have this fantastic setting,
this isolated gothic manor now filled with taxidermied animals. And the house itself is very sinister. There are rumours about a ghost that haunted
the previous lady of the manor and the mystery running through this is whether
or not these rumours are true. I’m really hooked on this one so definitely
worth getting your orders in. So then let’s finish off with some classics! So Jane Eyre isn’t usually thought of as a
Halloween novel, but it’s actually got some brilliantly spooky
gothic elements. There’s that whole scene where as a child,
Jane is locked in the Red Room, which she thinks is haunted and that’s such a scary atmospheric scene. And then as an adult, Jane Eyre finds herself
working as a governess in this seemingly haunted house, where there’s a mysterious presence who laughs
in the night and attacks the guests and even starts a fire in one of the bedrooms. And then of course the ultimate gothic Halloween
classic is Dracula by Bram Stoker. So this is told through a series of letters
and diary entries and newspaper clippings all piecing together the story of the vampire
Count Dracula, making his way from Transylvania to England to find new blood and spread the
undead curse. So watch out for any trick or treaters coming
to your door with fangs and capes, maybe have some garlic to the ready. So I hope you all have amazing Halloweens,
and do leave us a pumpkin emoji below. And comment with your favourite spooky gothic
books, because it’s such a fun genre to read. And of course do give this video a thumbs
up if you liked it, and hit that subscribe button below for new videos every week. Coming up next week we’re talking about fantasy
books for fans of His Dark Materials and I will also put the link in the description
for Strawberry Hill House and Gardens. Definitely come and visit this amazing, unusual
building for yourself. See you next time!

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8 thoughts on “Spooky Gothic Books for Halloween | #BookBreak”

  1. Nicholas Oulton says:

    Coo – ok, so I'm off to get the Upstairs Room. eeeeep!

  2. Shawna Johnson says:

    Victorian gothic is my absolute favorite sub genre and this is a fantastic list! Laura Purcell is a favorite of mine and I just read Bone China which I really enjoyed, along with Silent Companions and The Corset. I also recently read The Familiars and it was AMAZING. Recently purchased The Doll Factory and it's on my November TBR and will be adding Melmoth and Lakewood House to my purchase list. My all time favorite Neo Victorian gothic author is Sarah Waters and her book Fingersmith. Her Victorian era setting books are all 5 star reads for me, and ones which I compare all other gothics to. Essie Fox is next in favorites…Elijah's Mermaid, The Somnambulist and The Goddess and the Thief are all sooo good!!

  3. Adrian O'Leary says:

    Not gothic, but Salem's Lot is my favourite spooky read.

  4. Inessa Maria says:

    Happy Halloween!

  5. Naomi Watson says:

    I maybe wasn't paying attention when you said The Animals at Lockwood Manor isn't out until March so I got mad at my library for not having it . Oops.

  6. Elizabeth - Betsy Johnson says:


  7. Dominique Duguay says:

    The Thirteenth Tale for sure!! 🎃

  8. Dane Reads says:

    Nice suggestions!

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