Gothic Readers Book Club

The Gothic Readers Book Club is a gathering of like-minded souls who read Gothic literature. Our goal is promote the best in modern and classic Gothic literature from around the globe.

Glen Krisch's novel is a complex story of good and evil, both literally and symbolically. The town of Coal Hollow sits atop a dark and evil secret. When Cooper, an outsider, arrives in town, he's met with suspicion. Things go from bad to worse when two boys disappear. As Cooper tries to clear his name, the sinister underbelly of the town emerges. This is part zombie, part ghost story, part just plain scary. Krisch's narrative is dark and intense. He doesn't offer explanation or answers. Evil just exists and likely always will. A few of the characters didn't seem to have a home in the action of the story and there are a few slow parts where it gets overly descriptive. Minor flaws in a great story.

The anthology A Carnivale of Horror is an eclectic collection of circus-themed stories. Ray Bradbury's famous (or infamous) "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is the lead story and sets a great tone. There are freak shows, clowns, big tops, and plenty of horrors here. Stories like Tom Reamy's "Blind Voices" capture that strange, sinister edge that lurks around the circus and the old freak shows. Younger readers might not get the freak show concept entirely, but the fear is definitely there. John Connolly's story, "Some Children Wander by Mistake," is just plain disturbing. You will never look at clowns the same (if you don't already fear them). The big top theme does get a little repetitive and a few of the more experimental stories (Joe Hill's lack of narrative, for example) don't always work. The quality stories here are well worth the read and Bradbury's classic ties the whole thing together nicely.

P.J. Hodge's Ghosts and Other Supernatural Guests is a fantastic Gothic collection. The writing style is reminiscent of the Victorian classics, but it's adapted to a modern audience. The crisp pacing reads well, and the archaic touches make a great framework to give the stories a very authentic air. The stories focus on Victorian ghosts, hauntings, manifestations, and psychological fear. Hodge is skilled at building tension rather than using gore and violence as a narrative tool. Very well done.

If You Like: M.R. James, Henry James, Guy de Maupassant

Edited by Shawna L. Bernard, Cellar Door: Words of Beauty, Tales of Terror is a unique collection. The stories are linked by title to create a loose thread between the tales. A simulation of opening doors, passing through, never to return to your point of origin. The poetry, flash fiction, and short stories take the reader down shadowy corridors and through haunted cold spots to reveal monstrous horrors hidden in the darkness. The works here are eclectic and terrifying.

If You Like: Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft, Sheridan Le Fanu, Guy de Maupassant

Fry's horror is the most powerful of all. Understated, tense, and disturbing, he doesn't fall back on guts, violence, and grossing out his readers. Like the Gothic classics, he explores death, mortality, inner fears, and that fine line we all dance with insanity. He focuses on that most frightening question of all. What is real and what do we create in our own head? This collection lurks in the shadows and darkness of our worst fears.

If You Like: H.P. Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood, Sherwood Anderson