With nods to The Talented Mr. Ripley and the gothic novels of Daphne Du Maurier, Christine Mangan’s Tangerine sent shivers down our spines. Tangier, 1956, a city on the verge of revolution—isolated and overwhelmed, trapped in a loveless marriage, this is not what Alice expected for her post-collegiate life. But when a lost friend returns…
Tangerine had the booksellers who read for our Discover Great New Writers program on the edge of their seats—and craving more gothic stories, so we asked Christine what we should read next.
Haunted mansions, wind-swept moors, supernatural occurrences. I have always loved Gothic tales and the tropes that define them—so much so, that I spent four years researching and writing about eighteenth-century Gothic literature for my postgraduate degree. And while I’ll always be a fan of Ann Radcliffe, Eliza Parsons and other contemporary authors of that time, my absolute favorite Gothic stories pick up a bit later, beginning in the nineteenth century with the Bronte sisters. Below is a list of Gothic tales that, while less well-known than Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, are still just as delightfully Gothic.
Behind a Mask, by Louisa May Alcott
Most people don’t tend to associate Alcott with the Gothic, but her work prior to Little Women revels in the type of gothic tales that Jo March is known for. This novella is the story of the ultimate femme fatale, Jean Muir, who disguises herself as a young, innocent governess in order to ingratiate herself into the Coventry family home—and later, as the owner of the Coventry estate.
My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier
A particular favorite of mine, this novel contains all the very best Gothic tropes: wild landscapes, a mysterious death, and an unforgettable femme fatale. The novel begins as the narrator, Philip, learns that his recently married Uncle Ambrose has died while traveling abroad in Italy. A good portion of the novel is then spent with Philip preparing to meet his Uncle’s new wife, though Rachel herself doesn’t make an appearance until halfway through. Despite his best intentions to hate her, Philip finds himself becoming more and more enthralled with his Uncle’s widow—there’s just the pesky little question of whether or not she had something to do with Ambrose’s death.
Picnic at Hanging Rock, by Joan Lindsay
Set in the early 1900s, this Australian Gothic tale begins with a picnic taken by an All Girls’ Boarding School at Hanging Rock, in celebration of Valentine’s Day. What is meant to be an innocent outing quickly turns tragic as three girls and a teacher go missing, without any clues as to what has happened to them. Empathizing the Gothic wilds of the Australian landscape, the novel details the far-reaching effects that the missing girls have on the lives of those involved. Tip: In order to avoid spoilers, don’t read the forward (or any other information) until after you’ve finished the novel.
The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters
Waters’ fifth novel follows the Ayres family in the years after WWII as they struggle to retain a semblance of the life that they once led. Told from the point of view of Dr. Faraday, an outsider who has always envied the lives of those in the mansion, this gothic tale explores questions of class in a postwar England as it examines the family ensconced in their now crumbling mansion, haunted by ghosts of the past.
The Icarus Girl, by Helen Oyeyemi
Questions of identity abound in this Gothic tale of doubling. At the heart of the novel is Jessamy Harrison, a troubled eight-year-old girl who can’t seem to make connections with anyone around her, until a family trip to Nigeria where she meets TillyTilly. Ecstatic to have finally found a friend, things take a sinister turn as Jess begins to question her new friend’s intentions—and whether or not she is, in fact, real.
Tangerine is on B&N bookshelves now.