Books

Top 5 books if you're into Gothic tales, chosen by Lauren Owen

The author and academic selects five darkly mysterious stories designed to send shivers down spines

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Small Angels author Lauren Owen selects her top five books if you’re looking for a Gothic story.

1. The Squaw (short story) by Bram Stoker

A honeymooning couple and their friend visit Nuremberg – and its infamous torture device, the Iron Virgin – with horrible consequences. A bloody gem which offers a fascinating (if uncomfortable) insight into Victorian attitudes to race and gender.

2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I adore stories about doomed, declining families and forbidding old mansions – and this novel gives these classic gothic tropes a fresh and thrilling take. Noemí Taboada is a delightful and thoroughly modern gothic heroine – strong-willed, brave and loyal.

3. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver 

This tale of an ill-fated exploration to the Arctic plays brilliantly on our human dread of the dark. The presence-threatening Jack, the protagonist, is both pitiable and horrifying. This book also uses one of my favourite gothic devices, the diary narrative.

Small Angels by Lauren Owen is out on August 2 (Tinder Press, £18.99)

4. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

Hearing a story can be a risky business in the gothic (just look at Interview with the Vampire). In Coleridge’s poem, the Mariner’s listener is marked forever by what he hears. And given the tale the Mariner tells – which features a ship crewed by corpses – it’s small wonder.

5. The Italian by Ann Radcliffe

Radcliffe is an early master of gothic fiction, and this novel is packed with sinister moments to revel in – including a brush with the Inquisition, and a tense sequence where the hero and heroine escape a convent where the heroine has been held prisoner.  

You can buy Small Angels from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

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