The autumn feels like a perfect time to curl up with a classic, something about those back to school and cosy vibes. I have currently found myself falling back in love with reading classic fiction; the lush language and memorable characters are what reading is all about (for me). And obviously classics are classics because their stories are so compelling.
If you’re looking for something this spooky season or as the nights draw in then I have some classic fiction for you. Don’t think because they are old that they will be any less terrifying!
Dracula: Readers have long been obsessed with vampires and Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the godfather of these shady, dangerous immortal beings.
This novel literally created all the tropes and lore which are now so prevalent in modern literature.
The novel charts the journey of the Count as he moves from his native Transylvania to England to seek on new victims and fresh blood. We encounter Van Helsing who attempts to defeat the beast.
Frankenstein: Another famous literary monster whom you’ve no doubt come across. But have you read the original story?
This is a story of what makes us human and how ambition and greed can warp the conscience. Telling the tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a sentient being and then the story of how his creation attempts to live in the world.
Full of secrecy, fear and alienation.
Rebecca: Now I know this one is EVERYWHERE at the moment thanks to the latest Netflix adaptation (do yourself a favour and check out the original Hitchcock version – it’s fabulous).
Rebecca tells the story of an unnamed heroine, who having rushed into marriage with a wealthy widower, finds herself haunted by the memory of his last wife.
This novel tingles with unease and some seriously sinister characters (hello Mrs Danvers). It has inspired countless adaptations, imitations and homages.
Wuthering Heights: I’m sneaking in this gothic classic partly down to that scene at the window, but also because this is a story all about the evils which people can contain. It also has all of the hallmarks of great gothic fiction – the aforementioned apparition at the window, a brooding hero and those moors.
It’s also a fabulous love story ….
“…he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…”
… I’m swooning like a damsel in distress!
Turn Of The Screw: This novella is the classic psychological, gothic tale.
Telling the story of a governess sent to care for two all too perfect children, Miles and Flora, she finds that far from being the dream situation it becomes a nightmare. It seems that two past employees have taken to haunting their former home, attempting to lure away the children and corrupt them.
Or is it all in our narrator’s mind?
Plenty of apparitions, hysteria and things going bump in the night.
Poetry and Short Stories of Edgar Allen Poe: I couldn’t pick just one story by the king of horror and spooks. Take a look at The Raven or The Telltale Heart!
Northanger Abbey/The Mysteries of Udolpho: The final suggestions are a little out there but first is this slightly lesser known novel from Jane Austen. Now this isn’t a spooky or scary book; it is rather a bit of a mockery of gothic fiction, which was hugely popular with readers at the time Austen was writing. Her heroine images herself as a protagonist in her treasured gothic novels, with some very amusing and romantic consequences. One of her favourite novels is The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, which is a gothic fiction classic.