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Do you love the work I do here on The Gothic Library? You can help keep it going by sending secure donations through Paypal. For the last two and a half years, this blog has been purely a project of passion. I spend quite a few hours every week working to bring you thoughtful and informative content, and I remain committed to the idea of providing information about the wonderful world of dark and gothic literature to the public for free.  However, I will never say no to a bit of monetary support! Donations will help me to pay for the upkeep of this website and to justify the amount of hours I spend on non-paying work each week.

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Dogs in Gothic and Horror Literature

Man’s best friend can also be his worst nightmare.… Most of us love dogs. They make great pets, as they can be playful, affectionate, and truly loyal companions. But when you remember that they are descended from wolves, you can’t help recognizing that, somewhere deep inside, even the most precious puppy retains a bit of the wild animal, a bit of the predator. And it is this aspect that makes dogs such a popular subject in horror literature. As we just passed from the Year of the Rooster to the Year of the Dog on Friday, according to the Chinese zodiac, I figured this would be an especially appropriate time to celebrate the creepiest canines in horror. Continue reading Dogs in Gothic and Horror Literature

Female Friendships in Gothic Literature

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it feels like we’re getting constantly hit in the face with commercialized images of heteronormative romantic love. It’s enough to make anyone feel a little disenchanted, but I’ve always loved the holiday. For me, Valentine’s Day is about more than just purchasing materialistic expressions of affection for your significant other. It’s about celebrating love in all its forms. And, personally, some of the most important relationships in my life are my friendships with other women. Growing up, my female friends and I always took this time of year as an opportunity to send each other flowers, give out chocolate, and be extra vocal with our love and support. That’s why this Valentine’s Day, I want to take a moment to celebrate some of my favorite female friendships in Gothic literature. Continue reading Female Friendships in Gothic Literature

African-American Writers of Gothic Literature

February is Black History Month, which we observe in the U.S. by celebrating the lives and achievements of African-Americans throughout the country’s history. In this vein, I wanted to highlight some of the black writers—particularly female writers—who have made significant contributions to the Gothic genre. The Gothic is generally regarded as a Eurocentric genre, created by upper class Englishmen in their extravagant estates and adopted by those who wished to imitate them. But like any good genre, the Gothic is adaptive. Its elements have been co-opted by American writers of urban horror, such as Edgar Allan Poe, and transformed into the unique subgenre of Southern Gothic by the country’s more rural authors. It is no surprise, then, that the black literary community has embraced the Gothic as well, though usually in forms less immediately recognizable than your typical tales of women in nightgowns fleeing from monsters in a castle. Read on for a list of prominent black authors who have incorporated the Gothic into their works. Continue reading African-American Writers of Gothic Literature

The Guns Above—A Feminist Steampunk Military Drama

The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis is the humorous, female-led steampunk military drama you didn’t know was missing from your life. This debut novel, which came out last May, tells the story of Josette Dupre, Garnia’s first female airship captain, and her fight to keep her position, her ship, and her crew. The book gives an intimate and unromantic look at the harsh realities of war, while also managing to be an uplifting tale about trust, leadership, and unlikely friendship. Continue reading The Guns Above—A Feminist Steampunk Military Drama

Fiction as a Window to Witchcraft: Insights from Chapters and Charms

I have some really exciting news: my twin sister just launched her own blog! Carly has been one of the biggest supporters of The Gothic Library since the beginning, frequently suggesting topics, correcting typos, and offering moral support over the years. Now it’s time for me to return the favor. Her new website, Chapters and Charms, combines her love of books with her passion for Wicca and witchcraft. As I figured these topics might be of interest to readers of The Gothic Library, I asked Carly to come do a guest post. Read on to learn about how gothic fiction influenced Carly’s path to Wicca:

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Many things in my life were introduced to me first through books. Witchcraft/modern paganism was no exception. The genres birthed by the Gothic tradition—paranormal romance, monster fiction, mystery, horror—are rife with references to mythology, magic ritual, and even specific pagan practices like Wicca. Although these depictions may take great creative license, conflating fantasy and fact, they nonetheless piqued my interest and set me on the right track to begin my own research into the subject.

Just as monsters like vampires and werewolves began to figure as protagonists of their own stories instead as the villains (thanks largely to authors like Anne Rice), witches, too, were cast in a more relatable and humanized light around the turn of the millennium. I remember reading YA fiction like The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith (author of the popular Vampire Diaries series) and the Twitches novels by H. B. Gilmour and Randi Reisfeld (later adapted to film with Tia and Tamera Mowry playing the twin witches) that depict folk magic and rituals in detail. To this day, whenever I see the herb marjoram, I think of the scene from Twitches where the twins use it as a substitution for another herb in a spell and end up talking to the dead instead of time-traveling (or vice versa, my memory is fuzzy). While the magic depicted in these fantasy stories is usually way more dramatic and flashy than what real life practitioners mean when we say “witchcraft,” there is an element of precision, creativity, accessibility, and taking control of your own fate that is shared, which drew me to learn more about it.

These books taught me words like coven and grimoire, but it was actually a Scooby Doo movie that introduced me to the word Wicca and set the stage for my dedication to that religion years later. In Scooby Doo! And the Witch’s Ghost, the gang go to New England to solve a mystery for a horror writer, and in the process, meet a young Wiccan woman named Thorn, who falls under suspicion for her witchy ways. Though the film propagates some misinformation (such as retroactively calling women burned at the stake for witchcraft Wiccans, when Wicca is actually a religion founded in the 1950s), it introduced the concept to mainstream children’s entertainment. Scooby Doo may seem a little far removed from gothic lit, but it is inspired by the whodunit genre popularized by gothic authors like Edgar Allen Poe and draws from the ghost stories and spooky settings common in the genre.

So, you can see why fiction (especially gothic-rooted fiction) and witchcraft have always been closely related for me. They both bring magic into my life: fiction through escapism and the chance to explore new worlds and experiences, witchcraft through little rituals that bring my spirituality into my everyday life and which help me manifest my dreams into reality. That is why I started my blog, Chapters and Charms. Book blog meets witch blog as I alternate between reviews/author profiles and witchy tips or spells. Sometimes I even write about witchy books. If any of this sounds up your alley, you can check it out at chaptersandcharms.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

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Carly is the author of Chapters and Charms. She has been practicing solitary wicca since 2009, infusing her practice with her Jewish heritage, imagination, and intuition. She has also been a book blogger since 2014, and launched her solo blog, Chapters and Charms, earlier this month.

The Witch Literary Canon

I’ve been thinking lately about a certain iconic character that crops up again and again in gothic literature: the witch. Witches embody the greatest fears of the societies they belong to, from devil worship to the idea of women wielding power. They are some of literature’s most controversial figures, and some of my favorite to read about. Thus, I felt they deserved their own literary canon. (Click here to see the other literary canon lists I’ve done.) Below are a few of the central texts in the body of witchy literature: Continue reading The Witch Literary Canon

Going to be Away from the Blog!

Hello, dear readers! I just wanted to let you all know that I’m going to be out of the country for the next couple of weeks. Not to fear, though! I’ve scheduled everything in advance, so posts will be going up as usual every Monday. I just won’t be around to respond to your comments and answer your questions.

I’ll be back by the beginning of February. Until then, stay spooky!

Beneath the Haunting Sea–A Mythic Debut

Talia doesn’t believe in the old gods and the legends that her mother used to tell her beside the fire. But just because she doesn’t believe, doesn’t mean they aren’t real.… Ancient curses and buried prophecies rise up from the depths in Joanna Ruth Meyer’s Beneath the Haunting Sea. What better way to start off the new year than with a brand new book from a debut author, right? It’s the perfect time for fresh voices and new perspectives. Beneath the Haunting Sea comes out tomorrow, January 9th. Find it at your local retailer, or scroll to the bottom of this post to buy it online and support the blog by using my IndieBound affiliate link. Continue reading Beneath the Haunting Sea–A Mythic Debut

Books I’m Excited for in 2018

Another year gone, and another year of new books ahead of us! This week I want to continue my yearly tradition of rounding up all the books that I’m most looking forward to in the new year. I hope to look back at this list when picking out my next read. Continue reading Books I’m Excited for in 2018