Tag Archives: Gothic

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Overview

Title: Wicked Saints
Author: Emily A. Duncan
Series: Something Dark and Holy #1
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Dark fantasy, Gothic, Magic, Young adult
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I started trying to read this book last year at some point. And I remember liking it, but not really getting into it. Picking it up again… I’m REALLY not sure why I couldn’t get into it. I mean, this book is fantastic. I honestly couldn’t put it down. Again, not entirely sure what it was that made me put this aside last year. Because WOW.

To start off with, I loved the twist at the end of this. It was horrifying, and you thought that there might be something horrible. And then the horrible thing happens and you were just… gobsmacked. I mean, what a damn betrayal! And what a way to make me thirst for the next book in the series… like seriously, and desperately thirst for it. I just can’t even believe the power that this book holds over you, long after you turn that final page. Even now, when I’m finally getting to sit down and write a review of it… I’m still completely enthralled and gobsmacked.

I’ve read a lot of stories which are based on historical Europe, but not Slavic Europe. It did take me a little to get my head around the character names. And I am 100% certain that the way I say them in my head is completely incorrect. Which is fine, because no one else is inside my head. Partner that with the holy war that is going on… and although there was a slight sense of familiarity due to the European aspect to it, this felt like a whole new world. One that I seriously can’t wait to get back to… I mean, it is dark and twisted. And, for someone who is a little freaked out by anything with religious connotations, impossible to not want to dive straight back into.

Duncan’s world building is insane and intense. She is able to construct a world that you can’t turn away from. And although a lot is revealed in this novel, there is a lot more to the world and the conspiracies than is imparted in one novel. Which, again, is what makes me want to dive into Ruthless Gods so badly. I mean, the world building and the politics are phenomenal. And even with the betrayal that I didn’t see coming, there is a whole slew of other aspects to this storyline that need answers. Relationships that may become more and more complex…

<- More Emily A. DuncanRuthless Gods ->

Image source: Goodreads

The Master of Rampling Gate by Anne Rice

Overview
Image result for by blood we live book cover

Title: The Master of Rampling Gate
Author: Anne Rice
In: By Blood We Live (John Joseph Adams)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: GothicHorror, Vampires
Dates read: 30th June 2021
Pace: Slow, Medium, Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Night Shade Books
Year: 2008
5th sentence, 74th page: “What have they done to me?” he whispered.

Synopsis

Two siblings were left with strict instructions of their father’s death – destroy Rampling Gate. But a visit to find out what they are to destroy has them questioning everything.

Thoughts

This had a very gothic / Dracula feel to it. But just not quite as horrifying and twisted. Actually, it had kind of surreal sort of happy ending. Not one that I necessarily went head over heels for. But one that I enjoyed nevertheless.

I like that there was a mystery and a feeling of family traditions and horrors throughout this tale. It wasn’t overly dark in and of itself, but that potential lingered throughout the tale. And it left me feeling very happily intrigued as I flicked through the pages.

I’ve heard of Anne Rice many times. I mean, who hasn’t when you like anything paranormal? So it was fun to know what her writing is actually like. I’d definitely be intrigued to buy one of her novels now…

<- Snow, Glass, ApplesUnder St. Peter’s ->

Image source: Fantastic Fiction

The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

Overview
Image result for book cover the wide window

Title: The Wide Window
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #3
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Gothic
Dates read: 7th – 17th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 2000
5th sentence, 74th page: “But that’s another error in the note,” Klaus said.

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Synopsis

Dear Reader,

If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted, but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and the one you are holding may be the worst of them all.

If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signaling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair.

I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Thoughts

The third instalment in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series is just as hilariously tragic as the rest of the books. It is filled with everything and anything you could possibly think of going wrong. Which is exactly what you should be expecting by this point in the series. Yet, its still pleasantly surprising and somewhat brilliant in all of its horrible glory. Especially since, whilst you know that everything is going to go wrong… you’re not entirely sure how it will go so awry.

The guardian in this story is grammar obsessed. Which, I, of course, thought was absolutely brilliant. I’m not that intensive with my grammar, but like everyone I know that loves the written word, I’m a little picky about the use of certain terms, words and phrases. It’s nice to have an off-kilter character who feels exactly the same way.

Is it paranoia if there is truly someone out to get you? I’m not entirely sure, although I do know that the woman in this story is paranoid in a whole new way… and that’s not meant as something positive. I wanted to reach through the pages of the book multiple times and just smack some sense into the woman. Who in the hell is so afraid of literally anything? Alright, I know that there are some people like that… but it doesn’t make reading a novel in which one is featured any easier.

Now I need to probably take a bit of a pause from this series – I have so many other books on my reading list that are kind of ahead of the cue… but, I’ll make sure I read them even faster! Just so that I get to find out what horrible thing happens next…

 <- The Reptile Room ReviewThe Miserable Mill Review ->

Image source: Wikipedia

The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

Overview
Image result for the reptile room book cover

Title: The Reptile Room
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Gothic
Dates read: 20th October – 3rd November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: My shoulder may be sprained.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Dear Reader,

If you have picked up this book with the hope of finding a simple and cheery tale, I’m afraid you have picked up the wrong book altogether. The story may seem cheery at first, when the Baudelaire children spend time in the company of some interesting reptiles and a giddy uncle, but don’t be fooled. If you know anything about the unlucky Baudelaire children, you already know that even pleasant events lead down the same road to misery.

In fact, within the pages you now hold in your hands, the three siblings endure a car accident, a terrible odor, a deadly serpent, a long knife, a large brass reading lamp, and the reappearance of a person they’d hoped never to see again.

I am bound to record these tragic events, but you are free to put this book back on the shelf and seek something lighter.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Thoughts

This is quite possibly the first ever non-creepy snake story that I’ve ever read. Actually, it’s the first ever story which I’ve read in which snakes aren’t evil, kind of cute, and a lot of fun. The Baudelaire children in fact are very sad to leave the snake house (which they must because this is A Series of Unfortunate Events and nothing good every happens).

As you would expect from this series (and I’m only two books in), I spent the entire time that I was reading this expecting a really horrifying and horrible ending. Which of course meant that I wasn’t surprised when that is exactly what I got. I was a little shocked at the fact that there is a death only halfway through the story, and there is pretty much no happy moment other than the first two chapters throughout the entire tale.

As I scientist, and more specifically, an environmental scientist, I’m well aware of how eccentric we tend to be as a group. Which was captured perfectly in this story – the one minded obsession of Dr. Montgomery, his lifelong goals and inability to see beyond his snakes. Well, I am very familiar with that obsession (although for me it’s bugs). Although this is done with a great sense of humour, it’s still done in a realistic and approachable manner. One that I absolutely adored. And I’m kind of sad that we already have to move onto the next guardian.

As this series unfolds I get more and more intrigued by the crazy shenanigans and adventures of the Baudelaire children. I can’t wait to see who they end up with next. And, more importantly… how they outsmart the evil Count Olaf.

 <- The Bad Beginning ReviewThe Wide Window Review ->

Image source: Wikipedia

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

Overview
Image result for book cover the bad beginning

Title: The Bad Beginning
Author: Lemony Snicket
Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events #1
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Gothic
Dates read: 15th – 16th October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: It means “reluctant to associate with others”, and it might describe somebody who, during a party, would stand in a corner and not talk to anyone.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune.

In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.

It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing.

With all due respect,
Lemony Snicket

Thoughts

One of my primary school friends used to be obsessed with A Series of Unfortunate Events. I never read them as a child. But, I recently saw the entire boxset collection for sale online and I just couldn’t help myself. I’ve always just been so curious. And man I’m so glad that I succumbed! There is something brilliant, hilarious and witty about this writing. Also a little bit unique and easy that makes you want to keep reading the whole series… even as a grown adult.

The first sentence of this story warns you that there are no happy endings. That this is not a happy book. But it’s also not that sad either. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly tragic, and nothing at all goes right for the three orphans. But the way it is written makes it all feel okay. If any other writer wrote such a depressing tale… I’d probably put the book aside out of disgust. Life sucks, and I don’t necessarily want to read about that. But when all of the tragedy is tempered with wit… I’ll just lap that up.

Part of me wishes that I had have read this book (and series) as a child. There are new words and explanations for their definitions peppered throughout. Reading expands everyone’s vocabulary, but when there are some much more complex words thrown into a children’s book and explained beautifully… I can imagine what this would have done to a child-Skye’s vocabulary (on second thoughts, maybe good that I didn’t read this young – my dad was overwhelmed enough by my ever-growing ability to use ridiculous words as a child).

The Bad Beginning is a tragic, fun read. It reminds you that everyone has their talents (inventing, reading and biting in this case) and that sometimes you can use those to find your way out of a sticky situation. It also introduces a truly horrible villain, because he is just so damn human. You can imagine people in power doing this, because they actually could. And it starts off a series of tragic adventures that I can’t wait to read again and again and again.

 <- The End ReviewThe Reptile Room Review ->

Image source: Angela Maria Hart

Black Spring by Alison Croggon

Overview
Image result for book cover black spring

Title: Black Spring
Author: Alison Croggon
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Gothic, Retellings, Twisted romance
Dates read: 18th – 25th February 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Walker Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: But now I suspect that they might not have become so close if Lina hadn’t behaved so cruelly to begin with, and that part of his respect for her stemmed from his initial experience of her demonic temper.

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Synopsis

Lina is enchanting, vibrant by wilful. And her eyes betray her for what she truly is – a witch. With her childhood companion, Damek, she has grown up privileged and spoiled and the pair are devoted to each other to the point of obsession.
But times are changing.
Vendetta is coming.
And tragedy is stalking the halls of the Red House.

A stunning new novel by Alison Croggon, inspired by the Gothic classic Wuthering Heights.

Thoughts

The week before I read this I made an attempt at reading Wuthering Heights. I say attempt because I kind of hated it. Not the writing or the storyline, but the characterisation. So I wanted to tackle a retelling immediately after. After all, I like the idea of everything in the original, I just found Heathcliff so damn douchey that my rage couldn’t get past it to enjoy everything else that was going on. Black Spring helped to cure me of this.

Black Spring follows pretty much the same storyline as Wuthering Heights. It also makes Damek (Heathcliff) and Lina (Catherine) far more relatable. I still kind of thought that they were silly, and Damek was still the epitome of selfish, obsessive love. But, they were just on the wrong side of the line and so more approachable. It meant that I could appreciate the themes and ideas that were being shared, and actually enjoy the storyline while I was doing it.

My enjoyment of this story was probably helped along by the fact that there was a fantasy aspect to the storyline. The addition of magic and the emphasis on the disjoint between wizards and witches (gender) worked brilliantly to further highlight the unfairness and indignities which Lina was forced to face. It made her story a lot more tragic and sad than that of Catherine. I actually found myself liking Lina, although she had many of the same character flaws, it was much easier to see myself in her than in Catherine.

I absolutely adored everything about this book. But I think that the aspect I enjoyed the most was the ending. Damek’s haunting and horrible actions towards Lina’s daughter culminate in some kind of revenge. And the sway in which this was done was poetic justice at its finest.

 <- More Australian authors reviewsMore gothic reviews ->
Image source: Readings

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Overview
Image result for word cloud classics emily bronte book cover

Title: Wuthering Heights
Author: Emily Bronte
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Gothic
Dates read: 12th – 18th February 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1847
5th sentence, 74th page: “What ails you, Cathy?” he was saying when I entered: “you look as dismal as a drowned whelp.”

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Synopsis

Discover a passionate tale of love lost, found, and avenged in Wuthering Heights. Lockwood, a wealthy man from England, rents a house from an eccentric gentleman named Heathcliff, who is the tortured master of Wuthering Heights. Through Lockwood and the housekeeper, Nelly, the story of Heathcliff’s adoption, upbringing, revenge, and love for Catherine is told. The unconventional relationships and complex story structure will keep you turning pages long into the night

Thoughts

Heathcliff is a douche. Total and utter, pain in the bum, can’t even get into this story kind of douche. There’s a chance that Catherine might also be a bit of a douche. But I really couldn’t move past my blinding hatred for Heathcliff to even concentrate on the object of his obsession.

I was kind of disappointed by the utmost douchiness of Heathcliff. If it wasn’t for him, I would have absolutely loved this book. The writing style was engaging, the storytelling complex but brilliantly done. There was a lot of fantastic imagery throughout the half of the story I read (yes, I hated Heathcliff that much that I only got about halfway through before the rage became too much). And the themes throughout are just striking. But then it all comes back to Heathcliff.

This is definitely one of those books that I’m going to try again in a year or so… it just wasn’t the right time to try and tackle the dark obsession and douchiness of Heathcliff. But, I can see this being a great read if I am feeling down and out against the world. Or, more specifically, men and romance in general…

<- Jane Eyre101 Fairy Tales ->

Image source: Amazon

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Overview
Frankenstein

Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Easy reading, Gothic
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Word Cloud Classics
Year: 1818
5th sentence, 74th page: Yet my heart overflowed with kindness and the love of virtue.

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Synopsis

Horror. Romance. Science. A classic tale that would be a fright to miss!

The idea for the story came to the author, Mary Shelley, in a dream she had about a scientist who had created life and was horrified by what he had made. This Gothic-style romance is among the first of true science fiction novels, if not the first. A young scientist named Victor Frankenstein, after going through his own near-death experience, decides to play God and create life in the form of a grotesque creature, which turns into a nightmare. Through his experience, he learns that the gift of life is precious, not disposable. His journey and personal transformation has deeply affected readers.

Thoughts

I’ve never read Frankenstein. I’ve not really spoken to anyone who has. And it was one that I’ve wanted to read for curiosities sake but wasn’t completely desperate to read like some others. All that changed when I started on the first page of this book. I can completely understand why this has stood the test of time and captured so many readers’ imaginations and fascinations.

I really enjoyed how this tale started off with a series of letters that helped to foreshadow what was to come. It highlighted the dark nature of the tale, and the sense of total and utter devastation of Frankenstein as his story unfolded. Even though I knew that this wasn’t going to be a sunshine and roses kind of tale, it still broke my heart a little as the tale unfolded. Not just for Frankenstein, but there was a few moments when I felt genuine sorry for his monster too. Although, not enough to accept the horrors of his actions.

The foreshadowing that is layered throughout this story is brilliantly done. It gives this horrifying sense of dread and an uncomfortable feeling that sits in the pit of your stomach. The commentary on social injustice and assumptions that cause his monster to completely lose his mind just add to that feeling of uncomfortableness. But it’s a good uncomfortable, it acts as a way to open your eyes, even in this modern day that makes you question all of the assumptions that you make about others. And to remind you that sometimes the worst monster in the world is the one of your own creation.

<- Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Other PoemsStrange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde & Other Stories ->

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