Sea of Secrets Review—A Gothic Romance Spin on Hamlet

Oriel’s life seems like a fairy tale when she finally escapes her emotionally abusive father to go live with some loving—and wealthy!—long-lost relatives. But when she meets Herron, the dark and brooding young duke, she learns that this paradise may not be as perfect as it seems. Could someone in her new family really be a murderer, as the duke suspects? Find out when you read Sea of Secrets by Amanda DeWees! Last year, I picked up a couple of works by this spectacular self-published author of Victorian Gothic fiction, including her short Christmas tale Upon a Ghostly Yule. As a bit of a spin-off from Sea of Secrets, this short story introduced me to the Reginald family and hinted at their myriad scandals. It was about time, then, that I finally picked up Sea of Secrets itself. Continue reading Sea of Secrets Review—A Gothic Romance Spin on Hamlet

Review of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Miss Ella Rosenfeld has been committed to Auttenberg Asylum for her hallucinations of ghostly apparitions. But even more frightening than the idea of going mad is the possibility that the ghosts are real, and they are warning Ella about the fate that awaits her in the asylum. Ella’s first frightening night at Attenberg sets the scene for the rest of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel by Kristen Brand. When the author first contacted me to request a review, I knew from the subtitle that this book would be right up my alley. Ghost Machine flawlessly blends various elements of both steampunk and the gothic in everything from the setting to the style and characters. With two genres that are both known for their melodrama and tendency to go over the top, Kristen Brand does a remarkable job of staying grounded and keeping the all too common campiness to a minimum. Ghost Machine is a gem among the many self-published ebooks of Amazon, and I am grateful to the author for bringing this one to my attention! Continue reading Review of Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

“Upon A Ghostly Yule” Review—Another Victorian Christmas Tale!

Upon a Ghostly YuleTalk about a Ghost of Christmas Past! “Upon a Ghostly Yule” is a festive short story by Amanda DeWees, one of my new favorite authors who writes traditional-style Gothic novels, such as the one I reviewed earlier this year, With This Curse. Last year, she published this yuletide tale which continues in a similar vein. Set in the mid-nineteenth century, “Upon a Ghostly Yule” is a sort of companion story to one of Dewees’s other novels, A Sea of Secrets, though it functions as an entirely independent piece. Much like Leanna Renee Hieber’s “A Christmas Carroll,” this story is the perfect blend of ghosts, romance, and holiday cheer.  Continue reading “Upon A Ghostly Yule” Review—Another Victorian Christmas Tale!

Leanna Renee Hieber’s Heartwarming Holiday Story, “A Christmas Carroll”

A Christmas Carroll coverWho doesn’t love a good Christmas ghost story? Especially when that ghost story is also a love story! And of course, it’s even better when that story is a companion novella to a series you’re (not so) patiently waiting for the next book in. You’ve heard me rave all year about Victorian fantasy author Leanna Renee Hieber and her newly re-released Strangely Beautiful saga. Books one and two have been re-edited and published by Tor in a beautiful single volume, which I reviewed back in April. The next book, a prequel called Perilous Prophecy is slated to be reissued next June. In the meantime, Leanna’s short novella “A Christmas Carroll” is just the thing to tide us over, and it’s appropriately festive for the season! Continue reading Leanna Renee Hieber’s Heartwarming Holiday Story, “A Christmas Carroll”

With This Curse Review–An Excellent Victorian Gothic

With This Curse coverWhat could tempt you to reenter a cursed house, where all that you loved had already been taken from you once before? For Clara, only the dismal prospects of being an unmarried Victorian woman without hope of employment could drive her back to Gravesend. This predicament opens the story of With This Curse by Amanda DeWees, a traditional-style Gothic novel which won the 2015 Daphne du Maurier Award. Amanda’s books were first recommended to me by an author I’ve talked about at length in many posts here, Leanna Renee Hieber. I knew I could trust such glowing praise from one of my favorite authors, and when With This Curse arrived in the mail and I saw its gorgeous and elegant cover, I was even more excited to read it. It took several months to make its way up my to-read list, but when I finally cracked the spine, I was not disappointed. Continue reading With This Curse Review–An Excellent Victorian Gothic

The American Gothic Tradition

Happy 4th of July! On this day in 1776, the founding fathers declared their intention to create a nation that would be independent from Great Britain. Though as they signed the Declaration, I doubt any of them were thinking about creating an independent literary tradition. Nonetheless, as our country began developing its own political and economic system, it also began developing its own culture—and that includes its own literature. American Gothic, apart from being an infamous painting of a dreary farmer couple, is a unique subgenre in the Gothic tradition that is markedly American. Today, I thought I would celebrate this patriotic holiday by sharing with you the history of the American Gothic tradition and some of its most prominent members.

American Gothic is more than just a creepy painting.
American Gothic is more than just a creepy painting. (Image credit: Freaking News)

Continue reading The American Gothic Tradition

Horror vs. Terror and the Gender Divide in Gothic Literature

Horror. Terror. They’re synonyms, right? Actually, they’re similar, but their meanings are slightly different, especially in the world of Gothic literature. In fact the terms represent two different schools of thought that early writers of Gothic literature divided themselves along. And at the beginning, this division occurred loosely along gender lines, as Matthew Lewis and Ann Radcliffe were held up as the representatives of each camp.

Radcliffe and Lewis
Ann Radcliffe (Terror) and Mattlew Lewis (Horror)

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This Monstrous Thing Review–Steampunk Frankenstein

Also, just look at this gorgeous cover art...
Also, just look at this gorgeous cover art…

When I was at the Brooklyn Book Festival a few months ago, I heard someone say the words “steampunk Frankenstein retelling” and my ears perked up. It turns out that person was Mackenzi Lee, author of This Monstrous Thing, her debut novel. As you may have noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of Frankenstein. So, intrigued by this description, I picked up a signed copy of Lee’s book then and there. Alas, it took me quite a while to get around to reading it, but I’m glad I finally did.

This Monstrous Thing is set in an alternate history, in which early 19th century Europe is hyper-industrialized and clockwork is the basis of new technology, from new modes of transportation to artificial limbs. Surgeon/mechanics called Shadow Boys fashion clockwork parts for wounded citizens. But while this technology gives crippled men and women mobility and hope, the majority of the population considers it an abomination. Clockwork men and women are treated as second class citizens, and the Shadow Boys who build their parts are in constant danger of arrest.  Continue reading This Monstrous Thing Review–Steampunk Frankenstein

Rebecca Review–A Haunting Tale

Rebecca CoverA couple months ago, I posted about some of the foundational female writers of gothic literature. There was one woman on that list whose works I had not read before, and so I decided to seek her out. Thus, I found myself downloading the audiobook of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca is essentially a Gothic novel in the traditional sense, though it was written much later than its 18th– and 19th-century fellows. Ambiguously set in the 1920s or ‘30s, Rebecca contains no elements of the supernatural, no true evil villain, and no attacks on the heroine’s life. Instead, what makes Rebecca a Gothic novel is its focus on the core Gothic trope: the present haunted by the past—although in Rebecca’s case, this haunting is purely psychological. Continue reading Rebecca Review–A Haunting Tale

Modern Takes on the Vampire Classic, Carmilla (Part Two)

Last week, I reviewed a modern illustrated edition of the vampire classic, Carmilla. As you can see from my last post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story of a teenage girl who discovers her friendly new houseguest may not be as innocent as she looks. However, if reading books from the 1870s still isn’t your thing, even after it’s been disguised as a modern paranormal romance—or if you’re just a huge fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and love seeing classic texts brought to life in front of the webcam—then I definitely suggest that you check out the Carmilla web series.

Continue reading Modern Takes on the Vampire Classic, Carmilla (Part Two)