While I love revisiting Christmas tales like A Christmas Carol and taking comfort in festive poetry over the Christmas period, I also enjoy taking solace in some darker reads too. There’s nothing quite like reading a book from the gothic or horror genre when the weather is often reflecting those gloomy landscapes the writer is also portraying. It’s the perfect mix. Throw in a blanket, some candles and a brew of your choice and you’ve got yourself a winner!
A dark classic within the horror genre, with themes such as vanity, selfishness and cruelty, this classic is definitely a tale of corruption and makes for the perfect read during the darker months. The prose and language is incredibly lyrical which, for me, made the plot line so digestible and fast-paced. I won’t go into the plot line too much as it is a classic that many of us know well however, I would like to point out that this isn’t in the horror genre due to it’s relation to monsters or the supernatural (as such), I would say it’s more so in this genre as it showcases the horror and cruel acts at the hands of a human. The display of Gray’s personal traits and how this effects the events that unfold are quite startling, and are what adds to and plays into the horror. I do have an old post on this book here, although it is rather old now so do forgive me.
The ultimate vampire story of all time – how could I not include this gem here?! I know I recently mentioned this book in my Dark Reads for October post so I won’t ramble on as I’d truly be repeating myself. All I will say is that this is, to my mind, the original vampire story and set against the backdrops of locations such as castles in the middle of the mountains and Whitby Abbey perched upon the hilltop, mausoleums and graveyards, to mansion homes – it’s so eerie and perfect for cozy evenings.
I personally find a mystery, let alone one set against a creepy location, perfect for this time of year. The Hound of Baskervilles is very similar to that of a Scooby-Doo episode. The structures are identical. A secluded location with little to no inhabitants in the area, some form of monster or evil reeking havoc on the locals, some sort of warning or signal to leave, a couple chance meetings with that monster or form of evil which then turns out to be someone taking advantage of local myths and legends to capitalise on something they can get from it, usually wealth or power. This is the structure of the Hound of Baskervilles story but a bit darker in areas and so much more atmospheric. I’d highly recommend it to anyone, its language is straightforward and it’s not too long a read either. The Valley of Fear on the other hand, while I know that I have read it I can’t remember the plot line for the life of me.
Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus, like Dracula, is seen as the pioneering classic for all ‘creations-come-to-life’ tales that followed. Again, many know the tale of the scientist Frankenstein whose creation comes to life and seemingly haunts him in his quest for purpose. Set against the backdrops of the Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc, the collegiate city of Ingolstadt Germany, the desolate artic landscape, and the wild, sparsely populated Orkney Islands. Shelley’s writing is expertly paced and has such a musical quality in parts. The imagery of the outcast creation is beyond beautiful and the language she uses evokes such emotion in it’s reader you do sometimes have to remind yourself that ‘yes, this is the monster everyone dresses up as when Halloween comes‘. You can’t help but feel heartbroken for the orphaned creation trying to find a purpose in his life as he scours the land in a state of loneliness.
Like Dracula, I did only mention this book recently in my Dark Reads for October so I won’t bore you with my musings all over again, you can find them here. The tale of a lonely phantom-figure terrorising and causing mysterious happenings in a grand, opulent opera house is one that thrills my bookworm heart. The writing and imagery Leroux conjures is exceptional, paired with the backdrops of dressing rooms, theatre boxes and a bustling theatre with secret passageways and mezzanine labyrinths is exquisite. I cannot recommend this book enough for these cooler months ahead.
There, those are just a handful of my gothic, slightly darker classics for the winter months upon us. Let me know if there’s any that you would add or what you’re favourite winter read is – I’d love to know.
Cheerio for now!