Gothic Fiction for the Whole Family (Part 1: Children)

Staff PicksSoutheast Library

Gothic Fiction for the Whole Family (Part 1: Children)

A celebration of old-world-style scares

It's never too early to introduce your child to Gothic and Modern Gothic literature (or to develop a taste for it yourself). This glorious genre explores negativity in a manageable package. With supernatural elements and an exploration of feelings like unhappiness and loneliness, both Gothic and Modern Gothic literature provide a unique opportunity for readers to explore and discuss some of the more challenging and gruesome aspects of life, and to find ways to cope with scary and negative feelings in their day-to-day lives. Find a comfy chair and get ready for some shocking, fearsome and morose reads.

For Young Readers (Pre-K to 3rd Grade)

The Eclectic Abecedarium by Edward Gorey
Those bored of typical alphabet books will greatly enjoy this miniature collection of couplets by Gorey. In a lighter style than some of his other books, this delightful and short read is fun for children and adults. 

What There Is Before There Is Anything There by Liniers
Liniers examines fear of the dark in a beautiful exploration of existentialism and emptiness. This is an excellent book for sparking conversation with your child on the paradox of personal relevance and irrelevance in a vast and complex world. 

The Doubtful Guest by Edward Gorey
Children will enjoy the familiar antics of the mysterious penguin-like protagonist of this short and humorous picture book metaphor for parenting. 

Cautionary Tales for Children by Hillaire Belloc (ill. Edward Gorey)
In the style of 19th century Der Struwwelpeter, Belloc masterfully tackles and parodies the cautionary tale genre, in which children misbehave and are met with disastrous, exaggerated consequences. This collection is best when read to early elementary-aged children, who have a special love for the disgusting and the dreary.

For Older Children (3rd to 6th Grade)

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller
When Elizabeth's mother runs off and leaves the family, her father decides the time has come to move to his childhood home. Accompanied by her macabre friend Zenobia (who can only be seen by some), Elizabeth explores her strange new environs and encounters a curious family mystery in the twisting wallpaper of the east wing. This curious chapter book provides an excellent message of courage in the face of trauma.

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls by Claire LeGrand
Victoria is the most perfect student, with the most perfect life, in the most perfect neighborhood. She is so perfect that she decides to take a less-talented and popular student, Lawrence, under her wing. All is going well until one day Victoria gets a B in music class, Lawrence disappears and things start seeming a little bit off. Could it be related to that distasteful Cavendish home for orphans? Legrand's first novel is a wonderful followup to her previous short-story pieces in The Cabinet of Curiosities.

The Princess and the Goblin by George McDonald
McDonald's classic has a beautiful detailed fairy tale structure with a layer of creepiness embodied by a goblin government. A true creation of the Gothic era, this short and antique read inspired such writers as J.R.R. Tolkien and Madeleine L'Engle when they were developing their own fantasy worlds.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
A curiosity unfolds as Mr. Utterson tries to learn more about the unusual Mr. Hyde. Punctuated by deaths, mystery and early science fiction, this 10-chapter novella is a perfect entrance into the classics. This book is also available on audiobook via Overdrive.

Heap House by Edward Carey
Clod is an Iremonger, and therefore lives in Heap House (the Iremonger family mansion) and has his own birth object (a plug). Yet Clod is different from his family, as he can hear each birth object shouting out a name. When Clod's aunt is missing her doorknob, he meets the unusual servant girl Lucy Pennant, and together they begin to discover the vast secrets of the Iremonger family. This book is the first in a trilogy.