If you’re anything like me, you’ve already grabbed a pumpkin spice latte or two to kick off the fall season and are now on the “haunt” for a spine-tingling read. Gothic fiction is just the thing! About the gothic novel, Britannica Academic writes, “Called Gothic because its imaginative impulse was drawn from medieval buildings and ruins, such novels commonly used such settings as castles or monasteries equipped with subterranean passages, dark battlements, hidden panels, and trapdoors.”
With creeping plots and unsettling characters, this delightful genre often includes shades of horror and is exemplified in classics like The Castle of Otranto and the more recent We Have Always Lived in the Castle as well as the aptly-named Mexican Gothic. While teens may enjoy these and other Gothic classics, Gothic fiction is also having a moment in young adult books. So grab your spiced cider or PSL and one of these perfectly-seasonal reads for autumn or anytime you’re looking for some spine-tingling fun. Happy hauntings!
All the Dead Lie Down by Kyrie McCauley
Invited to work as a nanny at a horror writer’s house in Maine after a tragedy, Marin believes things might finally be turning around. But before long, she finds herself responsible for two strange little girls and having strange, compelling interactions with their older sister, Evie. Still, as Marin becomes used to the oddities at the beachside estate, things continue to escalate and something sinister is lurking in the woods, threatening to take the only thing she really has left: her life. Bridging the gap between summer with its coastal setting and autumn with a chilling plot, this book grips its readers -- and doesn’t let go. Also available as an ebook and an eaudiobook.
Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury
With a paranormal ability, Daisy is the perfect person to spend the summer at a haunted mansion in Canada. After an intense break-up, her mother sends her to Miracle Mansion where she begins running into dark secrets from the past. Ten years later, Brittany shows up at the same old house, eager to get away from her own mother and research the mystery of a girl who visited the mansion a decade before for her show, Haunted. As the girls’ stories intertwine, readers are immersed in haunting horrors. Also available as an ebook.
Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
After her sister is stolen by the Goblin King, musician Liesl must find a way to retrieve her. But the Goblin King is not one to make deals and when he does, his prices are steep. Now, Liesl faces an unthinkable choice as she descends deeper into the Goblin King’s realm, discovering not only the secrets of his dwelling, but the secrets of the Goblin King himself. Combining inspiration from The Sound of Music, Labyrinth, and Phantom of the Opera, this fantasy set in historical Germany brings a feminist lens to the Gothic genre. Also available as an ebook.
She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran
All Jade has to do is visit her father in Vietnam and create a website for his new French colonial tourist stay and she’ll be granted with money to pursue college and finally break free. But when she arrives, something about the house seems off. Before long, Jade is plagued with strange dreams and occurrences that seem like they just can’t be true. And then there’s the ghost, warning her not to eat as her father and sister obliviously go on with their work and lives. An LGBT Gothic novel with a touch of mystery, She Is a Haunting will leave readers starving for more. Also available as an ebook and an eaudiobook.
My Dear Henry: A Jekyll & Hyde Remix by Kalynn Bayron
When Gabriel returns to London, he’s glad to finally be reunited with his old friend Henry Jekyll, even if Henry now comes with a scandalous past that cost him his spot in London Medical School. But Henry is distant and growing more so every day. Gabriel’s unease about his relationship with Henry only deepens as he gets to know Hyde, who claims to be Henry’s friend and seems to be alarmingly close with Henry. Still, Gabriel is determined to find out why Henry is suddenly so disinterested in him -- even if it means his ruin. Drawing from the classic Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, this remix keeps a hold on the original’s ghoulish effect. Also available as an ebook and an eaudiobook.
The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor by Shaenon K. Garrity and Christopher Baldwin
A lover of Gothic fiction, Haley hardly has anything else on her mind. When she stumbles into the opportunity to live out a daring Gothic rescue, Haley wastes no time diving in the river to save the drowning stranger. But this soon lands her in a strange place, where all her Gothic fantasies are real. At Willowweep Manor, secrets layer upon secrets. Now, Haley must use what she knows about her favorite genre as well as a heap of bravery to save her new friends once and for all. Irreverent and admiring of the Gothic genre by turns, this unusual graphic novel is as fun as it is creepy! Also available as an ebook.
About the Author
Abby is a New-Hampshire-grown Assistant Branch Manager at Southwest Neighborhood Library. In addition to writing book lists for DC Public Library, she's written for Book Riot, School Library Journal, Library Journal, Booklist, and other professional library and bookish publications. She reads broadly, but often enjoys literary young adult fiction, contemporary young adult fiction, and young adult fantasy. She lives in Virginia with her husband and her cat, Oopsilon.