Horror Stories for Each of the Passover Plagues

Tonight is the first night of Passover—the Jewish holiday commemorating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and freedom from slavery. The story is one of triumph and celebration, but in some ways it’s also one of the darkest tales in the Jewish tradition. You know the story: Moses is called upon by God to free the Israelites, so he approaches the pharaoh with the demand, “Let my people go!” Each time that the pharaoh refuses, God afflicts the Egyptians with a new plague intended to terrify them into releasing their slaves. The ten plagues are the stuff of nightmares—both realistic dangers, like disease and infestations, and supernatural terrors, like rivers of blood and unnatural darkness. Whether you are celebrating Passover this week or not, enjoy these ten short stories to go along with each plague inflicted upon the Egyptians:

The plague of locusts from the 1890 Holman Bible

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Bloggiesta To Do List: Spring 2017

It snuck up on me this year, but apparently it’s time for another Bloggiesta! Spring Bloggiesta is a week-long blogging marathon hosted by bloggiesta.com. From today (Monday, March 20) until Sunday March 26, bloggers around the internet will come together to support and inspire each other while working on bettering their own blogs. I always find Bloggiesta events to be a helpful reminder for me to take care of long-term blog-related goals and to get some great advice from more experienced bloggers.  Continue reading Bloggiesta To Do List: Spring 2017

The Gothic Library Is Now an IndieBound Affiliate!

Dear readers, I am excited to announce that The Gothic Library is now an IndieBound Affiliate! What does this mean? It means that you can now support both The Gothic Library and your local independent bookstore by purchasing books through the IndieBound affiliate links at the bottom of many of my posts.

IndieBound.org is a website dedicated to connecting you to independently owned businesses around the country. Instead of getting your books from Amazon or large chain stores, you can shop online with the same ease while supporting the members of the industry that need it the most. Buying from independent bookstores has a number of benefits. Independent bookstores are some of the biggest supporters of the little guys! They often take risks on new authors, small publishers, and even the self-published, and help to give them a boost. They are also the foundation of fantastic communities. Workers at independent bookstores are some of the most passionate book-lovers I’ve met, and they are masters at curating and recommending books. Independent bookstores bring readers together, and can help connect authors with a local fanbase. Economically, shopping at a local independent bookstore keeps more money within your own community. On IndieBound, you can plug in your zip code to buy from local stores, even when you’re shopping online! Check out IndieBound.org for more reasons why you should shop indie.

So how does this help The Gothic Library? Well, if you click on any of my affiliate links and then make a purchase, either through IndieBound or on the website of one of the independent bookstores that it links to, I get a small percentage of the proceeds! These probably won’t add up to much, but every little bit helps fuel my book-love. I will be adding links to the end of my book review posts whenever possible, so if my review piques your interest consider taking the opportunity to buy the book! I’ve started adding links to some of my older posts and will be including them in my book reviews going forward.

In the mean time, you can also check out my general IndieBound link below and just browse. As long as you originally reach the website through my link, any purchase you make will support The Gothic Library. Happy shopping!
Shop Indie Bookstores

Literature’s Strangest Chapters on Death

Death is a strange chapter in everyone’s story. Yet as we read through action-packed novels like the Game of Thrones series where a character dies almost every chapter, literary deaths may start to seem commonplace and we give little thought to how they are presented. For gothic authors, however, a character’s death is an opportunity to explore that fascinating, unknowable state and our relationship with it. What does it mean to be dead? How will this death impact the story? And how should we feel about it? Sometimes the only way to answer these questions is by employing some truly unique literary techniques. Below are three of my favorite unusual depictions of death in literature: Continue reading Literature’s Strangest Chapters on Death

2017 Blog Resolutions

New Years is the perfect opportunity for me to take stock, not only of my own life, but also of my blog and what direction I want it to be going in. This time last year, I posted my very first set of blog resolutions for the new year. Overall, I think I did fairly well with my first full year of blogging. I certainly read a wide range of books and engaged with some amazing authors. Some of the goals I made last year became less important to me as the year went on. For example, now that I’m working full time, posting multiple times a week became an impractical goal. Instead I focused on maintaining a steady schedule of high-quality weekly posts. Now it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead. Here are some of my goals for 2017:

Happy New Year 2017

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Dark Tales of Native American Folklore

Thanksgiving is just around the corner for me and my fellow American readers, and with this holiday usually comes cartoonish depictions of Native Americans feasting beside pilgrims at a banquet celebrating their friendship. But though most Americans will spend this time of year stuffing themselves with turkey and cranberry sauce, probably few could name the specific tribe the Pilgrims encountered, let alone anything about their culture.

"The Friendly Skeleton" Painting by Richard Hook (First People website. Copyright Richard Hook)
“The Friendly Skeleton” Painting by Richard Hook (First People website. Copyright Richard Hook)

It’s important to remember that North America was inhabited by a variety of different peoples, each with their own rich culture and history long before the first European settlers arrived, though since that time they have faced discrimination and erasure. We also need to acknowledge that the stories and voices of these people are often left out not only from our history books, but also from our studies of literature. Oral story-telling has played a significant role in many of the cultures indigenous to America, and the folktales and legends passed down from generation to generation are part of a wide body of literature belonging to this underrepresented group. One of the things I hope to do with this blog is discuss the Gothic in wider terms than merely the most popular themes and works from the Western European tradition. A while back, I discussed some of the dark myths and monsters of the Jewish tradition. This week, I want to highlight some of the legends and tales from Native American folklore that I find most fascinating. Continue reading Dark Tales of Native American Folklore

Dark Tales of Jewish Folklore

Shana tova! to those of you celebrating the Jewish new year this past week. In case you don’t know, we’re currently in the midst of one of the most important times of the year for Jews. The days between the start of the new year (which began last Sunday night) and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (this Wednesday), are typically used as a period for deep reflection and introspection. In honor of this holiday, I decided to use this opportunity to reflect on some of the more gothic elements of Jewish folklore and tradition. Much of the monsters and boogeymen typically found in gothic fiction derive from a mostly Christian tradition, but Judaism has a rich array of creepy creatures, as well, that deserve their own turn in the spotlight. Continue reading Dark Tales of Jewish Folklore

Boroughs of the Dead–Discovering NYC’s Dark Side

Last weekend I went on my first ghost tour of New York City! Reading about ghosts and ghouls is all well and good, but sometimes you just have to get out there and experience their haunts and historical sites for yourself. Ghost tours are a great way to not only get some fresh air with your scares, but also to learn about some local history. And no one does this better than Boroughs of the Dead. Boroughs of the Dead is a local, independent, woman-owned boutique walking tour business that specializes in the darker side of New York history. They offer tours across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, and are looking to expand into the other two boroughs as well. Many of their tour guides are writers and are skilled in both research and storytelling. In fact, I first heard of the company because Gaslamp fantasy author Leanna Renee Hieber is one of their tour guides.

boroughs-of-the-dead-logo-1

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It’s The Gothic Library’s One Year Anniversary!

Happy bloggiversary! We’ve officially made it to one year. Back when I started, I had no idea if I could make it this far, but here we are! Thanks for coming along on this journey with me.

One Year anniversary gravestone 1

A while back, for my 6-month bloggiversary I shared some of my favorite posts I had written so far. This time I figured I’d do something a little different and celebrate some of the highlights from this year that I’m most proud of:

  • I successfully posted at least once a week for an entire year! Before starting this blog, I never wrote regularly or on any sort of deadline and didn’t know if I’d be able to. Now, a year later, I haven’t missed a single week!
  • I hosted my first author guest post by the lovely Leanna Renee Hieber, who  spoke about the different types of female strength in gothic fiction.
  • I participated in two Bloggiesta blogging marathons–the Winter 2016 Mini Bloggiesta and the week-long Spring 2016 Bloggiesta.
  • I started two popular recurring features: Gothic Tropes and Literary Canons. I’ve written three of each so far, and I’ve got more on the way!  (For tropes, see: Unreliable Narrators, Absent Mothers, and Creepy Housekeepers; for canons, see: Vampire, Zombie, and Devil & Demon)
  • Lastly, I hosted 3 giveaways and reviewed a total of 19 books!

What would you like to see more of here at The Gothic Library? What are your favorite types of posts? What new areas would you like to see me branch out into? Let me know in the comments!

iClassics Kickstarter—Interactive Gothic Lit for Students!

A brand new Kickstarter just launched last week with the hopes of using technology to make classic literature fun and accessible for students. iClassics is a Barcelona-based company that works to create an “interactive, illustrated, digital library,” as they explain on their website. At present, they already have several interactive literature collections available as apps for iOS devices. With the Kickstarter, they hope to raise enough funds to make the apps available to Android users, make them available in more languages, create new content, and make them free for as many students as possible.

iClassics Kickstarter image Continue reading iClassics Kickstarter—Interactive Gothic Lit for Students!