The Lure of the Gothic Novel on Halloween

The Lure of the Gothic Novel on Halloween

Long before the slasher movies and tales of teen terror, that have become a staple of Halloween nights across the globe, there were the original gothic novels. They are dark tales of the malevolent that have enlivened and terrified the imaginations of readers across the generations. Gothic novels are not restricted to the distant past either; modern gothic horror has its own hold on the hearts and pulses of those who prefer their horror dark and thought provoking.

As we all prepare for the onslaught of trick or treaters this Halloween let’s remember the true dark joy of this time of year. Here is our choice of those novels which can feed the imagination and bring a chill where there was warmth. 


There cannot be many people in this world who are not familiar with the most famous vampire of them all. Author Bram Stoker did not create the idea of the vampire but he did create the modern vision of the creature that we still have to this day. Count Dracula is the brooding and seductive being that is so familiar to us in fantasy creations such as True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. If you consider yourself to be a fan of those who feast on blood then you should make sure you have savoured the story of Count Dracula; created in 1897 but still shaping the world of fiction today.

The Turn of the Screw

If creepy juveniles are your thing you will love this Henry James novel. The strange children in this book will make your toes curl; and pretty much every other part of your body too. You can feel an eerie chill as you join an unsuspecting governess on her descent into madness. Along the way she is pushed over the edge by some seriously supernatural goings on. This is a book that seeps into your imagination and shapes your dreams.


The classic tale of you can, but should you? If you are not familiar with this rather tragic and deeply creepy tale, it is the story of Victor Frankenstein. Spurred by the death of his mother he sets out to bring the dead back to life. His use of the parts of several dead bodies leads to the creation of the Creature. Mary Shelley definitely succeeds in being disturbing with this dark cautionary tale.

Interview with the Vampire

This is one of the modern gothic novels that owes its existence to its historic counterparts. Published in 1976, this Anne Rice penned creep fest is probably most well-known due to the movie adaptation featuring a disturbingly delicious performance from Tom Cruise as Lestat. The story is a fascinating insight into the eerie, debauched and ultimately sad life of vampires. You are drawn into their world and it’s a heart gripping experience.

Ghost Story

This Peter Straub creation pretty much does what it says on the tin, and then some. It’s one of those tales where everything seems just fine, but evil and unease lurk just below the surface. There are ghosts and vampires and plenty of unnerving twists and turns as behind every shadow lurks another nerve tingling revelation. This is definitely a modern gothic novel that has its roots very much in its early predecessors.

So here is a thought, this Halloween. Instead of putting on a slasher movie or dancing the night away to Monster Mash, why not have a night of gothic story telling? This is true horror; the kind that chills the blood without spilling gallons of it and the type that imbeds itself in the brain and stirs the subconscious long after reading. The question is, are you brave enough?


Posted by Judith Plunkett

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