Neil Gaiman is known and respected in the gothic community for many reasons. His comic book series The Sandman, which revolutionized the world of comics, stars a character called Death who became a fashion icon for goths for decades to come. His book Coraline brought creepy children’s tales to the public eye when it was made into a movie in 2009. My favorite work of his that I’ve read so far, however, is another kid’s book—The Graveyard Book.
This book is a tale for practically any age (the back recommends 10 and up, it does contain some mentions of violence). While certainly accessible to children, I found it perfectly enjoyable to read for the first time as an adult. There are many subtleties that might be missed by young readers (as they are often missed by the character Bod) that enrich the story for adults. Continue reading The Graveyard Book Review–A Ghost Story for All Ages
Now, how can we possibly talk about gothic literature without mentioning the vampire genre? Of all the creatures that go bump in the night, vampires have long been a favorite of writers and readers alike. Today of course, the word brings to mind the type of teenage vampire love story popularized by Stephanie Meyer. To have a true appreciation of the genre however, I urge you to check out some of the classic stories that established the concept of vampires as we think of them today and informed the countless vampire novels that followed:
The whole concept of starting a gothic blog came into my head when I first stumbled onto Jillian Venters’ Gothic Charm School blog a few years ago. Jillian is a wise and eloquent eldergoth with whom I share many of the same views regarding the gothic subculture and its aesthetic. I highly suggest you check out her blog, but I also recommend that you check out her book, as well.
Gothic Charm School by Jillian Venters is a collection of the amassed wisdom of the type that she dispenses on her blog, decorated with lovely illustrations by her husband. The Lady of the Manners, as she refers to herself, speaks in a charming style throughout the book (notable for her frequent use of the third person). Subtitled “An Essential Guide for Goths and Those Who Love Them,” Gothic Charm School is directed at a wide audience—both goths themselves and those outside the subculture who want to learn more about it. Jillian combines humor with practical advice in chapters ranging from “Dealing with roommates” to “Why friends don’t let friends dress like the Crow.” Continue reading Gothic Charm School Review–Book by a Fellow Goth Blogger
Melissa Marr may be better known for her fairy-filled urban fantasies, but her most recent YA novel delves into the darker side of the human realm. With just a touch of the supernatural, Made For You is a suspenseful thriller that examines the minds of an obsessed stalker and his target. Eva Tilling is the unintentional It Girl of a privileged Southern high school. Despite her occasional frustration with the social status inherited from her parents, Eva seems to have it all: a great boyfriend, plenty of friends, invitations to all the best parties, and the envy of the rest of the school. Until one night she gets hit by a car…and realizes it wasn’t an accident. She wakes up to discover that she has gained a strange new ability—when others touch her, she can foresee their deaths.
In case you haven’t seen yesterday’s post, I’ve been nominated by Wandering Words to participate in the 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge. Today is Day 2!
Without further ado, here is my second quote—one of my favorite passages from Jane Austen’s Gothic parody, Northanger Abbey:
“And what are you reading, Miss—?” “Oh! It is only a novel!” replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. “It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda”; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.
One of the things that makes goths special is that we are not afraid to look death in the face. We take special delight in exploring taboos, especially the taboo of death. The entire aesthetic of the gothic subculture reflects a time when people interacted heavily with death—specifically the Victorian era, with its elaborate mourning customs and associated wardrobe, art, and accoutrements. Unfortunately, much of mainstream American culture does not share our morbid proclivities. In fact, Americans seem to have become obsessed with shielding themselves as completely as possible from death and dying. We relegate death to the sanitized rooms of hospitals and allow funeral workers to whisk our loved ones away as soon as possible to be prepared for cremation or burial by total strangers. Did you know you can even order a cremation online and have your loved one picked up, cremated, and mailed back to you in an urn without ever interacting with a single human being or having to face any visual reminders of death?
One of the many stereotypes of the gothic subculture involves reading poetry and brooding in a corner. While the brooding isn’t entirely necessary, poetry is a great way to indulge in your daily dose of darkness. Here are just a few of my absolute favorite gothic poems:
1) “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe
The works of Edgar Allan Poe were some of my first gateways into the realm of gothic literature. Poe is regarded as a leading patriarch in the American gothic tradition. He helped to popularize the genres of both horror and mystery with his numerous short stories. But for me, the true gothic beauty of Poe resides chiefly in his poetry. Now, I’m sure you’re all familiar with “The Raven,” so I figured I’d introduce you to one of my other favorite poems of his. “Annabel Lee” is a hauntingly beautiful poem about two of Poe’s favorite things: a beautiful woman and death. In fact, many of Poe’s poems and stories involve the death of a beautiful woman, perhaps influenced by the early death of his young wife, Virginia. “Annabel Lee” tells the story of a man and woman who were so in love that the angels in heaven grew jealous and took the woman away. The poem has an ethereal cadence that works beautifully put to music, as in this electro dance cover by one of my favorite musicians, Psyche Corporation:
Some of you may be familiar with Scott Westerfeld from his delightfully disturbing dystopia series Uglies. In Uglies, we saw that Westerfeld has the potential to get very dark in the doom and gloom of a futuristic totalitarian government kind of way. Westerfeld’s latest book, Afterworlds, goes down a completely different path, but may be equally entertaining to dark-minded readers.
I don’t even know how I would classify the genre of this book. There are really two different stories going on in alternating chapters: a simple realistic coming of age story of Darcy Patel—a teenage writer struggling to navigate the adult worlds of New York City, publishing, and true love; and then you have the story of Darcy’s novel about a teenage girl named Lizzie who becomes a psychopomp and falls in love with a death god as she struggles to come to terms with her new relationship with the dead. It’s really in this second story that the darker elements come into play.