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10 Contemporary Gothic Novels I Want To Read

Good afternoon all!

As you know, I am a HUGE fan of Gothic books (I wouldn’t be ‘The Gothic Bookworm’ otherwise, would I?). I’ve mainly read the classics of the genre, including infamously popular books such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Penny Dreadfuls. However, after re-reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt last month, I really want to read some more contemporary Gothic novels. I already have a few favourite contemporary Gothic authors, but ideally, I want to expand my reading even more!

1. If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio (2017)

I found out about this debut novel by Rio after a Goodreads search for ‘books similar to The Secret History’.  The plot is said to follow a murder mystery and has many Gothic themes implemented within.

if we were villains

2. Bunny by Mona Awad (2019)

Again, looking for books similar to Tartt’s prose, Bunny is described as ‘The Secret History meets Jennifer’s Body’. Taking place at university, this story follows the narrative of obsessive female friendships mixing the Gothic and Horror genre together for an intense read.


3. The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman (2002)

This book takes on a murder mystery with a twist which I see as very promising. If any book can create an original story from a murder mystery, consider me intrigued. The story follows Jane Hudson who returns to her old school twenty years later as the new Latin teacher. But something horrific happened when she was at school, and now, the past looks as if it’s going to repeat itself.


4. The Service of Clouds by Susan Hill (1997)

I am a huge fan of Hill’s work and, in the past, I’ve read a variety of her work. I enjoyed The Woman in Black and The Small Hand, but my ultimate favourite novel by Hill is I’m The King of The Castle. I am intrigued about The Service of Clouds and wonder if it can beat I’m The King of The Castle as my favourite Hill novel. The plot is described as ‘shocking’, ‘intense’, and full of grief; themes I know Hill has mastered in the past.


5. A Choir of Ill Children by Tom Piccirilli (2004)

Leaning towards the horror genre with Piccirilli, The Choir of Ill Children promises to evoke a range of emotions with its brutal and mysterious story-line. This story is also situated in the field of the ‘Southern Gothic’, something I definitely want to explore more.

a choir of ill children

6. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (2002)

I adore Tartt’s writing so it is no surprise that I want to read her second novel, The Little Friend, which was published a whole decade after her first literary triumph, The Secret History. In true Tartt tradition, this novel mixes themes of the Gothic with mystery intending to shock the reader. No doubt Tartt’s emotive language and depictions of imagery will invoke a thrilling and intense read.

the little friend

7. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

I adored The Virgin Suicides by Eugenides (which reminds me, it is due a re-read in the near future) so I am intrigued by his other bestselling novel, Middlesex. The story is described as a family saga where Eugenides explores his Greek heritage in addition to the age-old debate of ‘nature versus nurture’. I am sure it will be a gripping read.


8. Long Black Veil by Jennifer Finney Boylan (2017)

Like many Gothic books, Long Black Veil mixes past and present elements, secrets, and an unsettling umbrella of dread handing over the novel. Although this ‘past mystery resurfacing’ trope has been done before, I am curious to see how Boylan expresses this narrative in her story and how the contemporary Gothic elements compliment the classic novels we all know and love.

long black vei;

9. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa translated by Stephen Snyder (2013)

This year I really want to expand my author database. I have not read a translated book in over 6 months so I am well overdue to read one. I found Ogawa’s novel, Revenge, after trailing through Goodreads and the plot intrigued me. You know how some feel-good movies begin with an aspiring writer who discovers the love of their life when moving into their new apartment? Well, in Ogawa’s novel the first thing the protagonist discovers is that her new apartment was the scene of the murder. And that’s not all they find out. I am definitely intrigued by this novel’s premise.


10. The Ghost Notebooks by Ben Dolnick (2018)

No list of the Gothic would be complete without the word ‘Ghost’ in at least one title. This novel follows the story of a couple who move into a historical house. The couple begin their life in the house, but soon its history comes out of the woodwork. I believe this story will be a modern haunted house story with perhaps a few Neo-Gothic elements… I certainly hope it is!

the ghost notebooks

So, that’s my list! I am unsure whether I will be able to read the entirety of these books in 2020 as I have other books I am desperate to read this year, but I will attempt to read as many as I can. Are there any familiar books you see here? Have you read any? What are your thoughts? Comment below or visit me on social media:

Instagram: @gothicbookworm

Twitter: @gothicbookworm

Stay spooky!


The Gothic Bookworm

Images: Goodreads, Amazon, Wikipedia, Waterstones & Layout







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