By Melissa Braine, Arts Deputy Editor
In the harsh and uninviting winter months, we seek comfort and warmth in the intimacies of each other and fall in love with life’s small pleasures. Rather than gifting you the warmth of a charming romance novel, or a hot cup of tea, I propose to you three gothic novels so cold that they make even the bleakest of seasons seem comforting. Snuggle up with a blanket and prepare yourself for a chilling read.
The Haunting of Hill House (1959) – Shirley Jackson
As her most popular novel, Shirley Jackson’s unnerving The Haunting of Hill House is one of gothic brilliance.
Hoping to prove the existence of the supernatural, Dr Montague invites three strangers to Hill House, an eerie mansion long-rumoured to be haunted by a dark past. With a series of mysterious and preternatural events, Jackson crafts an extraordinary ghost story, not just out of atmospheric tension, but from an exploration of the psychosis aroused by fear and loneliness.
In Hill House, there is something more inescapable to fear than the supernatural and otherworldly…
The Bloody Chamber (1979) – Angela Carter
The Bloody Chamber is a daring and revengeful collection of feminist short stories that amplify the existing dark and gothic elements of the seemingly innocent fairy tale.
Behind the mystical castles, sombre moonlight, and dangerous but alluring characters, lies horrifying allegories of gender politics and sexuality that spark terror when reflected upon society’s accepted entrustment of gendered authority and entitlement.
Our Wives Under The Sea (2022) – Julia Armfield
Our Wives Under the Sea is a haunted story of the fluidity of deep emotion, falling in love, loss, and grief.
Armfield’s strange novel follows the anxious Miri and her marine biologist wife Leah upon her return home after a mysterious deep-sea mission that ended in catastrophe. Although Leah has come home, she has left a piece of herself submerged in the blue. Armfield’s novel is one of renewed defamiliarization and metamorphosis, playing a contemporising elegy to classic gothic tradition. It is sublime in its uncanniness, and heartfelt in its horror.
Many are nervous of what lurks in the deep unknown, but true horror lies with the unquestioned familiar.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Melissa Braine
Do you find comfort within the gothic?