Earlier this year, at a convention called Dark Side of the Con, I wound up inadvertently leading a panel on the overlap of goth and steampunk. Despite one originating in the early 1980s and the other being a fairly recent phenomenon, the two subcultures have a surprising amount of overlap—in everything from music to fashion to social scenes. In fact, I wrote a piece for Steampunk Tourist a few years ago on the overall similarities and differences between the two. But today I want to narrow in on one specific aspect that is at the root of both subcultures: the literature. Continue reading Steampunk vs. Gothic Literature
Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray took on new life this summer in a musical adaptation as part of the New York Musical Festival. NYMF is a three-week annual festival that seeks to shine the spotlight on new works, many of which go on to perform Off-Broadway, and some even make it to the Great White Way! Dorian Gray: The Musical began as a graduate thesis project for playwright Christopher Dayett, with music arranged by Kevin Mucchetti. Last week, the beta musical appeared in three showings at the Acorn Theater. Director Christen Mandracchia invited me to attend a performance and share my opinion on the show. Continue reading Dorian Gray: The Musical, a NYMF Production
To me, a three-day camping trip in the middle of the woods sounds like a nightmare under the best of circumstances. But in One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards, Sera’s senior experience field trip takes a far more sinister turn when she and three of her classmates wake up to find that someone has drugged them, been in their tents, destroyed their things, and left ominous messages written on their skin. Just reading the premise of this book, I knew it was going to be the kind of thing to keep me up at night. Continue reading Review of One Was Lost–YA Survival Horror
Recently, I’ve started playing a game with myself where I pick a book on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list that I don’t remember putting there, find the audiobook, and dive right in without reading any descriptions or summaries. This was how I stumbled upon the book Half Bad by Sally Green. Half Bad is the first book in a trilogy, and from the cover you can kind of get the idea that it’s a YA fantasy with a male protagonist, but that’s about all I knew going in. As it turned out, I think Half Bad may be one of the best books I’ve read so far this year! Continue reading Review of Half Bad–Is He a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?
As Pride Month draws to a close, I wanted to write a post highlighting a few of the queer writers in the Gothic canon. Gothic literature has been closely associated with taboo sexuality since its inception, and we can see this legacy clearly today in the queerness of modern horror (and in the unexpected adoption of the Babadook as the unofficial mascot of Pride this year). Not all of the LGBTQ representation in Gothic fiction has been particularly positive, as these works often play to society’s anxieties around sexual taboo. But the Gothic was also a place where many queer writers found a home. As is often the case with historical figures, it can be difficult to speak with certainty about the sexualities of authors long dead, especially since most of them lived during a time when “sodomy” was punishable by exile, arrest, and even death. Almost every writer of early Gothic fiction has been accused by enemies or claimed by critics to be part of the LGBTQ community, with varying amounts of evidence. In this post, I will highlight three of the most notorious gay or bisexual writers whose personal and romantic lives have contributed to their fame almost as much as their works have. Continue reading The Gay and Bisexual Men of Gothic Fiction
The re-release of Leanna Renee Hieber’s Strangely Beautiful Saga continues! Last year, Leanna revived her out-of-print debut series with the launch of Strangely Beautiful, published by Tor. This new, author-preferred edition contains her first two books, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker and The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker, in a single volume with some new scenes and edits. You can see my review of Strangely Beautiful here. Now she’s back at it with the relaunch of the series’ prequel, Perilous Prophecy, coming out tomorrow, June 20. Formerly called The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess, the book had only been out a short time before the original publisher went under, so you may have missed it the first time around. But now you’ve got a second chance! If you’re in New York, join me next week for the launch party at the Morris-Jumel Mansion. If you can’t make it out, you can pick up a copy of the book at your local independent bookstore, or buy it online using the IndieBound link at the bottom of this post. Continue reading Review of Perilous Prophecy—A Poignant Prequel
Valentine Wolfe is a gothic metal band that I first encountered at the final Wicked Faire last year. Since then, I’ve been able to catch snippets of their performances at various Jeff Mach Events over the past year, but finally got to listen and dance to a full set of theirs—at a Harry Potter convention of all places—during the goth night at MISTI-Con 2017. The band is based out of North Carolina and consists of Sarah Black, whose soprano vocals give their music its ethereal quality, and Braxton Ballew, who rocks out on the electric upright bass. Their music is particularly popular in both the goth and steampunk scenes, and they perform at a number of conventions up and down the east coast. To get an idea of what their music is like, check out the video of their rendition of “Annabel Lee” below and read on for my interview with Sarah and Braxton:
Death—It’s at the center of both Gothic literature (as one of the primal fears driving the atmosphere of dread) and the gothic subculture (as inspiration for its music, art, fashion, and overall aesthetic). But outside of the goth world, death can be a difficult topic to broach. Death and dying are taboo, especially in American society, and no one seems to want to talk about the one fate that awaits us all. That’s why Kimberly Mead created the game Morbid Curiosity to get everyone talking about death.
In my continued quest to branch out into new genres, I found a book so different from what I normally read that I hardly know how to describe it. Lara Elena Donnelley’s debut novel, Amberlough, is a fantasy political thriller with a noir aesthetic. I attended the launch party back in February and was immediately intrigued by the chapter Lara read to the crowd. Unusual and intriguing characters, a twisting and unpredictable plot, and a world so different and yet poignantly similar to our own—Amberlough is not to be missed if you’re looking for something new and unique to read! Continue reading Review of Amberlough–A Blend of Grit and Decadence
Last year, I wrote up a list of five death- and graveyard-themed poems to ponder as you enjoy a solitary stroll through someone’s final resting place. Now that graveyard picnic season has come once again, I figured it was time to add to this list. When researching for my previous post, I discovered that the tradition of graveyard poetry was far more robust than I had previously realized, and I kept finding more poems that I wanted to share. As before, my collection contains works by a few of the pre-Romantic “Graveyard Poets,” as well as a couple of poems by later Romantic poets. Enjoy!