With the sudden clown craze and Halloween around the corner, it’s the perfect time to connect with the dark side. So to get you into the mood this Halloween, I have chosen my top 5 best graphic Gothic novels.

5 – The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

The Woman in Black is a modern Gothic novella which has taken the world by storm! The narrative deals with the traditional ‘horrors’ that can be expected within the Gothic genre. From death, to haunted houses with many moments of suspense, The Woman in Black is a novella that certainly keeps you on your toes and is creepy as hell!

For the true scary experience why not watch the modern adaptation on stage? Between the 20th-25th of February performances will be held at Nottingham Theatre Royal. But be warned, as the Daily Mail reviewed earlier this year as a ‘nerve-shredding experience!’

 4 –  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is a novel for those who are less keen on violence and gore. It contains more of the basic conventions of the Gothic genre, such as the setting in a castle called ‘Thornfield’ and a few supernatural events, such as Jane’s uncle haunting her from the dead.

Another selling point for the novel is that it challenges patriarchal society at the time. So this is also a novel for the feminists. It’s a ghost story without the blood and violence. What’s not to like?

3 – Titus Andronicus – William Shakespeare

WARNING: THIS ISN’T FOR THE FAINT HEARTED! Titus Andronicus is a great Gothic alternative to a novel and is a quick enjoyable read. However, Shakespeare doesn’t hold back on the details!

From my personal experience of this play, it is by far one of the most graphic Gothic works ever written. The play focuses on the disagreements between two families and the gruesome activities they carry out for revenge. It just sounds like a bit of a boxing match; with cannibalism, rape and 14 murders, this is a play for the true horror lovers!

2 – IT – Stephen King

With the current clown craze at the moment, it only seems relevant that Stephen King’s IT should be included in the top 5 Gothic novels.

For me, being petrified of clowns hinders my enjoyment for this novel, but with various awards and winning the vote of ‘bestselling book in the U.S in 1986’ it is clear that IT has appealed to a vast audience. The novel itself is based on ‘Pennywise the clown’ who has powers to shape-shift. He then uses his powers to capture, brutally attack and murder children.

Conspiracy theory: With a recreation of IT hitting the cinemas in 2017, there are suggestions that the ‘killer clown’ craze is a publicity stunt for its release next year!

Honourable mention: American Psycho written by Bret Easton Ellis was made famous by the film adaptation starring Christian Bale. A novel based on a millionaire psychopath who brutally tortures and massacres women. Unfortunately, it doesn’t qualify for the list as I never managed to finish it. Way too graphic!

1 – Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Surprise! Who would have guessed it? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the most famous Gothic novel of all time. It not only laid down the foundations of a successful Gothic novel but it also incorporated Gothic conventions with pre-science-fiction elements and new perspectives.

Shelley writes as both the creator and the monster, which unlike the others on this list makes us feel emotion for both characters, including the monster. (He’s a good guy really!) Oooooh controversial.

This is a novel for everyone because of its supernatural elements and graphic scenes, however, it isn’t as violent as other Gothic novels. Especially American Psycho!

Also, Mary Shelley was only seventeen when writing this masterpiece! That’s enough to make anyone a fan of the novel!

So after reading all these, you will be well and truly ready for Halloween! Enjoy!

Emma Heasman

Image Credit: Soham Banerjee via Flickr

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