The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson
‘Some houses are born bad’ writes Jackson – and yet four people decide to stay in this one overnight. The unease builds masterfully to a shocking yet strangely satisfying climax. This is quite simply the best haunted house novel ever written.
by Daphne du Maurier
This plays with key elements of Gothic – the intrusion of the past into an enclosed and atmospheric present – in a brilliantly original way. And Mrs Danvers is terrifying.
The Aspern Papers
by Henry James
A bit of a stretch to call this a thriller, as there’s more suspense than dread, but it’s a taut and absorbing tale of a researcher’s quest to extract a precious hoard of letters from an old lady and her niece in a crumbling Venetian palazzo.
The Brimstone Wedding
by Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell)
Two women, one old and one young, gradually share their secrets in a compelling story laced with superstition. I love the fenland setting, which just happens to be within a stone’s throw of where I set my own Gothic tale.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
by James Hogg
A devout Calvinist is corrupted by a demonic alter-ego, and turns to murder. First published in 1825, this starts slowly but develops into a nightmarish tale of the evils of religious dogmatism.
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver is out now (Head of Zeus, £14.99)