A Foray into Gothic Fiction

Book cover image for RebeccaReading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier in 7th grade was a formative moment for me: I learned the vocabulary word sepulchre; I was deliciously creeped out. It wasn’t until this year, though, that I realized Rebecca was part of a larger type of fiction that I really, consistently enjoy: Gothic fiction. The good news for readers like me – those who love creepy old mansions, sinister family secrets and the sense that something is not quite right – is that there are a steady crop of titles to keep us busy. This year I’ve read two titles that I’d like to suggest you snuggle up with on a cold and dreary night.

Book cover image for The Death of Mrs. WestawayThe Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Young Hal is struggling to get by, working as a tarot card reader at Brighton Pier and in debt to a ruthless loan shark. She receives a notice that her grandmother has died and left her a bequest in the will – except Hal’s grandparents are long dead, so it must be a mistake. She travels to the family estate anyway, hoping to employ the same cold reading skills she uses in her work to con her way into a little inheritance. Instead, she finds herself in over her head in another family’s twisted history of secrets. Hal is a great character to root for, struggling with grief over her mother’s death and the daily realities of being poor and alone, and the Westaways are a fascinating, unhappy, secretive family. Add in the hulking gothic mansion and a sinister housekeeper, and I was hooked. Atmospheric and genuinely surprising.

Book cover image for The Silent CompanionsThe Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
In 1860s England, Elsie, pregnant and recently widowed, travels to the crumbling country estate of her husband’s family. Kept company by only a few servants and her husband’s maiden cousin, Elsie discovers a realistic life-size wooden figure in the attic garret. As the figure and others like it begin popping up around the house, seemingly moving around on their own, grisly deaths begin to occur. Where did these silent companions come from? Is Elsie going crazy? Or is something more sinister at play? This book is deeply, consistently creepy, with a suspenseful tone that made me want to read it with all the lights on. A great take on the Gothic ghost story.

Two more titles that I haven’t read yet, but am excited to crack into, are The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton and Melmoth by Sarah Perry. And then I need to finally pick up Shirley Jackson’s classic The Haunting of Hill House.

~ posted by Andrea G.

New Fiction Roundup – November 2018

11/6: The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco – In 1887, Alma Rosales goes undercover as a man to hunt for an opium shipment missing from a Washington Territory outpost.

11/6: The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith – In this latest installment of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Precious Ramotswe finds herself running for office, much to her dismay.

11/6: The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem – Phoebe enlists the help of a loner with a pet possum to look for her friend’s missing daughter in California’s Inland Empire. Hailed as Lethem’s return to detective fiction. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup – November 2018”

New Fiction Roundup – October 2018

10/2: Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III – An ex-con living a solitary life in seaside New England travels to a quaint Florida town in search of his estranged daughter. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup – October 2018”

Novels to read during Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15th-October 15th, honors the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans with ancestry in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. To help you celebrate through reading, our librarians put together a list of fiction by Latinx authors published between 2016-2018; see the full list and place holds in our catalog.

Continue reading “Novels to read during Hispanic Heritage Month”

New Fiction Roundup – September 2018

9/4: The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory – When her boyfriend surprises her with a Jumbotron proposal at a baseball game, Nik says no, and is saved when a stranger steps in to whisk her away. That stranger is Carlos, and could there be a spark between the two?

9/4: The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker – Set in the midst of literature’s most famous war, Barker imagines the events of The Iliad as experienced by the captured women living in a Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War.

9/11: She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore – In a novel shot through with magical realism, Moore reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three characters who share an uncommon bond. A Peak Pick!

9/18: 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day in this literary puzzle. Evelyn Hardcastle dies at a party Aiden Bishop is attending. Waking up the next morning, Aiden finds it is once again the morning of the party, only he is in the body of a different guest. He’ll inhabit 8 people on that day, until he can solve the crime. Continue reading “New Fiction Roundup – September 2018”