My favourite gothic fiction

Hi everyone,

Since I’m in the middle of participating in Gothtober, the readathon all about gothic fiction, I thought it the perfect time to talk about some of my favourite gothic fiction! I’ve loved gothic fiction since I was a teen. I always gravitated to the gothic classics both in and out of school, my favourites being Dracula and Wuthering Heights. The combination of creepy, mysterious settings with powerful romance, the supernatural, the constant sense of fear, foreboding and suspense just combines all my favourite things to read about. So I’ve picked out five of my favourite recent(ish) gothic releases alongside twelve I’m highly anticipating that will be released in the next year! It was supposed to be five as well, but 2021 is so full of gothic books and I’m incapable of narrowing down options. I don’t know what is driving this trend but I wholeheartedly approve.

Favourites

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

How could I start with anything other than my favourite book of the year, Mexican Gothic? This book is just the best, most fucked up gothic book I’ve read in years. It has all the most terrifying features of gothic fiction: the damp, mouldy house with walls that seem to move if you stare at them too long; the dark and dangerous fog covered cemetery with figures in the distance; the constant feeling that you’re being watched; mushrooms…. It is such a twisty, dark ride, and one that cemented Moreno-Garcia on my list of must-buy authors! The atmosphere is so full of suspense that reading this book is just an absolutely terrifying experience, do not read it at night as I did! Get ready to have your mind just scream WHAT THE FUCK.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Not only is The Animals at Lockwood Manor one of the most gorgeous physical books ever (especially as I got a special edition with stunning endpapers and sprayed edges), but it’s also just an amazing book, especially because at the centre of this gothic book is a brilliant sapphic relationship! It really is full of all my favourite gothic romance tropes: women fainting at the slightest thing, lounging indecently on chaise lounges, ruffled satin gowns and delicate touching of fingers on wrists. It’s BEAUTIFUL. The Animals at Lockwood Manor is of course a complete piece of gothic fiction with the creepy manor house, the ghostly figure in white who keeps appearing around the house, and a special ingrediant to make the environment even more creepy: taxidermied animals!

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The Mercies is definitely not a traditional gothic book. It has no creepy manor house for one. But I really feel like this has the emotional intensity, the romance, the gloomy atmosphere, and the dark fear and suspense that is inherent in all gothic fiction. So whilst at first glance this might not seem to fit the mould of a traditional gothic classic, I do think it deserves to be on this list! Instead of an English manor house, The Mercies is set in a small fishing village in Norway, in a rough and unforgiving landscape that becomes even more unforgiving when a witchhunter is brought in to bring a group of women back under control.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

One of my favourite elements of gothic fiction is the beautiful and haunting romances. There’s just something about the writing style in gothic books that allows for such beautiful expression of desire. Blood Countess does this so extremely well, it has one of my favourite sapphic relationship developments of any book. The language is just absolutely stunning and the yearning is incredible. Not only that, it’s also inspired by Countess Elizabeth Báthory who is considered to be the most prolific female serial killer ever.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Yes, this is the reason for the “recent(ish)” at the start of the post. White is for Witching released in 2009, but I only just read it recently (I literally finished it this morning) but I enjoyed it so much I added it to this post on my lunch break! I cannot express how absolutely incredible the atmosphere in this book is, oh my god. It’s sinfully dark and delightful, very strange at times but so foreboding and filled with such thrilling suspense. There is such a sense of malevolency throughout, as it’s all about a house that is haunting four generations of women in a family. It never wants to let them go, so keeps them in the walls of the house. And if creepiness isn’t enough, to make it even more perfect, it has a sapphic relationship too!

Anticipated gothic releases

Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Synopsis: A gorgeously gothic, deeply romantic YA debut fantasy about two enemies trapped inside a crumbling mansion, with no escape from the monsters within.

Honor your oath, destroy your country.

Wren Southerland is the most talented healer in the Queen’s Guard, but her reckless actions have repeatedly put her on thin ice with her superiors. So when a letter arrives from a reclusive lord, asking Wren to come to his estate to cure his servant from a mysterious disease, she seizes the chance to prove herself.

When she arrives at Colwick Hall, Wren realizes that nothing is what it seems. Particularly when she discovers her patient is actually Hal Cavendish, the sworn enemy of her kingdom.

As the snowy mountains make it impossible to leave the estate, Wren and Hal grow closer as they uncover a sinister plot that could destroy everything they hold dear. But choosing love could doom both their kingdoms.

Allison Saft’s Down Comes the Night is a snow-drenched, gothic, romantic fantasy that keeps you racing through the pages long into the night.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Synopsis: Light a fire they can’t put out…

For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…

A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

Synopsis: Julia Fine, author of the “surreally feministic tale” (Family Circle) What Should Be Wild, returns with a provocative meditation on new motherhood—Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening—in which a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation—a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown—author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon—whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle—and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

Synopsis: As the age of the photograph dawns in Victorian Bath, silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another… Why is the killer seemingly targeting her business?

Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them.

But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Synopsis: A delicious twist on a Gothic classic, Rachel Hawkins’s The Wife Upstairs pairs Southern charm with atmospheric domestic suspense, perfect for fans of B.A. Paris and Megan Miranda.

Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending? 

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Synopsis: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN MEETS THE ADDAMS FAMILY IN THIS HAUNTING STORY OF ONE GIRL’S ATTEMPT TO RECONNECT WITH HER MONSTROUS FAMILY.

Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid’s boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather’s tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. “I read this in the cards,” her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn’t see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself.

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Synopsis: Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six month later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

Synopsis: A genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables.

Vern, a Black woman with albinism, is hunted after escaping a religious compound, then she discovers that her body is changing and that she is developing extra-sensory powers.

Alone in the woods, she gives birth to twins and raises them away from the influence of the outside world. But something is wrong – not with them, but with her own body. It’s itching, it’s stronger, it’s… not normal.

To understand her body’s metamorphosis, Vern must investigate not just the secluded religious compound she fled but the violent history of dehumanization, medical experimentation, and genocide that produced it. In the course of reclaiming her own darkness, Vern learns that monsters aren’t just individuals, but entire histories, systems, and nations.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Synopsis: *THE MUST-READ GOTHIC THRILLER OF 2021 FROM THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AND AUGUST DERLETH AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF LITTLE EVE AND RAWBLOOD *

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Synopsis: Author of THE LUMINOUS DEAD Caitlin Starling’s THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE, pitched as a Crimson Peak-inspired gothic horror about a young woman who makes a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself trapped in her new husband’s decrepit and possibly haunted mansion, and spirals down a dangerous path of ritual magic in an effort to save them both, to Sylvan Creekmore at St. Martin’s Press, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Caitlin McDonald at Donald Maass Literary Agency (world)

The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros

Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, this queer Jewish gothic fantasy follows a young immigrant, Alter, who is possessed by the dybbuk of his murdered best friend and is thrust into a deadly hunt for a serial killer.

Wuthering Heights by Tasha Suri

Synopsis: Tasha Suri suggested she revamp Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights after Settle approached her to reclaim a different classic. “Tasha didn’t feel she was the right author for that book, but she did have an exciting idea for Wuthering Heights,” the editor said. “She proposed focusing on how, when the British colonized India and white men traveled there and had children with Indian women, if the children passed as white, they were then sent back to England to be integrated into ‘proper’ white society. Tasha had a brilliant plan for weaving that little-known part of history into Wuthering Heights.”

Suri called the classic novel a favorite of hers, “a strange and polarizing book: dark and gothic, passionately romantic and pointedly cruel. It’s also the story of the destructive influence of a boy who doesn’t belong: a boy who looks ‘foreign’ without having any particular history of cultural identity; a monstrous boy who has no place, no family, no right to want things, and wants them anyway. I want to write a reclamation that says: everyone comes from somewhere, and colonialism may try to make us its monsters, but we don’t have to let it. I hope my re-imagining will also help make readers a little more aware of the long, long history of South Asians in Britain. There’s so much history that we’re not taught that young readers deserve to know about.”

I hope you enjoyed this list of gothic books, and are as excited as I am about 2021! It is the year of the gothic book and I don’t know why we’re having such a big push for gothic novels, but I am so happy we are! Do you have any favourite gothic books? Let me know in the comments!

Book review: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Title: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Publisher: Del Rey

Publication date: 30 June 2020

Genre: Adult | Horror | Gothic

Page extent: 352 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic artistocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico—“fans of classic novels like Jane Eyre and Rebecca are in for a suspenseful treat” (PopSugar).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 

Mexican Gothic is the kind of book that will haunt you for years to come. It’s the kind of book that will make you yearn for a feeling like that again. It is dark, it is twisted and it is so entralling and bewitching that it is hard to put into words. It’s the book I will spend all year thrusting desperately into people’s hands while screaming READ IT. It’s a book I wish I could read for the first time again, because the horror and shock and awe was captivating.

So what’s it all about? Noemí receives a frantic and odd letter from her cousin, Catalina, full of frantic pleas to help her as she thinks her husband is trying to poison her. In a bid to find out exactly what the fuck is going on Noemí travels to High Place, the mysterious mansion where Catalina now lives with her husband and his odd, dysfunctional family. In this damp and mould covered house, Noemí is met with fierce disapproval and downright hatred from all except one, Francis, who she enlists in her attempts to work out what’s going on.

And boy, it’s a fucking ride. This book is so delightfully twisted and creepy. At first glance, this evokes the feelings of classic gothic novels: the fog, the house, the wilderness encroaching on the humanity and living. But Moreno-Garcia has brought an entirely modern twist to the genre, blending elements of the supernatural with science and academia, creating a book that is both a love story to classic gothic and embraces modern dark academia. In daylight, it is a gothic mystery, but at night, through Noemí’s disturbing and dark dreams, we see the other side of this novel. Moreno-Garcia’s language is stunningly horrific and distburbing – at many points it makes you sick to the stomach, and you dare not turn your eyes away from the page so desperate to see what the everloving fuck is happening.

And let’s talk about Noemí herself! Some books you read just the first few pages and know it’s going to be bloody excellent. Mexican Gothic was one of those for me. And it’s usually down to the ease and strength of the character voice. Noemí really shone in this novel. Her voice was so clear and immediately engrossing: she is both capable and independent, flirty and kind. And we see this strong, capable woman descend into horrors across the book and it is the strength of Noemí’s voice at the start which makes me care so much for her and be so passionate and mad as this house destroys such a wonderful character.

The other characters we meet are:

  • Virgil: the new husband to Noemí’s cousin, cold and calculating and cruel, with a vicious grasp on Noemí, able to spark deep rage and passion in her
  • Florence: an Aunt who runs the household, even more unfeeling than Virgil, strict beyond measure and deeply unkind
  • Howard: the patriarch of the family, slowly dying and around whom all revolve in this household
  • Catalina: Noemí’s cousin who frantically wrote a letter to save herself, and seems constantly seesawing between peaceful and well, and utterly mad
  • Francis: the one individual in the house who dares to be kind to Noemí, sweet and unsure but ruled with an iron fist by Howard, Florence, and Virgil.

These characters revolve around each other in an uneasy fashion, lies around every corner and horrors hiding in the dark, mould invested mansion of High Place. Mexican Gothic is a twisted, fucked up book that will surprise you at every turn. It combines all my favourite elements of gothic suspense but brings the genre into the modern age with glimpses of horror and dark academia. It is the book I am going to gift to pretty much everyone I know because I adored this so much. It gave me disturbing dreams, my heart raced as I read, and I never wanted to stop reading it.

30 Days of Pride: Historical fiction

Hi everyone,

History was gay, we all know it, and I have the books to prove it. Historical fiction is a genre I have found myself absolutely LOVING the past year or so. I haven’t read huge amounts of historical fiction previously, so there are lots of new favourites here today and books I’m sure will be favourites as soon as I get a chance to read them. There’s quite a mix of genres here within the “historical fiction” purview, from fun YA fantasy, to literary fiction that will make you sob, to romance, to more traditional gothic suspense. Some of my favourite reads in the past year are on this list so I hope you find something you can enjoy. Because for me? Nothing can beat Revolution era French fashion than making it queer!

Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn

After mentioning French Revolution era fashion in my intro, what other book could I start with than Kat Dunn’s Dangerous Remedy? This book released in eBook during May and the hardback is coming this Summer. It’s an absolute chaotic adventure full of disaster queers who really bring new meaning to the name, a bi love triangle, and the Battalion de Mortes, a team of young outcasts who are saving people from the guillotine. It’s absolutely hilarious, so much fun and you should definitely read this one! Check out my full review here.

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

This book has been on my TBR for so long and I should be seriously shamed for not having read it yet. Everyone I know who has read it a) loved it and b) sobbed uncontrollably. Under the Udala Trees is inspired by Nigerian folktales and war. In the wake of civil war, a young girl, Ijeoma, is sent away to safety, and meets another displaced child, with whom she falls in love. But they’re both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma discovers she will always need to hide away this part of her self. The book follows Ijeoma as she comes of age and moves into adulthood in the wake of a civil war and with a secret she must always hide.

Blood Countess by Lana Popović

There’s not much that attracts me more to a book than “dark and sapphic” and this book has that in absolute spades! Blood Countess is a wonderfully dark and beautiful retelling of the infamous Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who’s considered the most prolific female serial killer who ever lived. And then Popović made it gay. *sobs in sapphic* This book is a lush and dangerous tale about Anna, a scullery maid in Elizabeth’s household who catches her eye. The development of Anna and Elizabeth’s relationship is bewitchingly good, and Blood Countess is full of discussions and questions about who we are and where evil comes from. Check out my full review here.

All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

The covers in today’s list are just gorgeous, but this one is particularly stunning! All the Bad Apples is a story told part in the past, part in the present. It follows Deena as she follows her family’s history whilst hunting for her sister. Her sister leaves her mysterious letters which tell their family story, and of the curse which marks their family. Thus we get both the dark past of women in Ireland explaining the curse and how it was formed through their family tree, and the not very distant future with Deena, who is seen as a bad apple by the rest of her family due to her sexuality. It is a book full of very true and very awful horrors of Ireland’s past, with a fabulistic edge and atmospheric writing.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

This is probably up there as one of my favourite books of the year so far, it pretty much rejuvinated by adoration of gothic literature and filled me with the desire to reread all my favourite gothic classics and rewatch all my dark gothic films. It is 1939, and Hetty has been sent with the Natural History Museum’s mammal collection to Lockwood Manor, where she will stay for the duration of the war and look after the collection. At the manor, she meets the rude and irascible Lord Lockwood, along with his mysterious and haunted daughter, Lucy. And then the mammals start disappearing. Hetty isn’t sure if she’s going mad, if there’s a thief, or perhaps something even darker at work. This book is full of all your favourite gothic tropes: haunted manors, women lounging over everything, misty gardens, and of course a beautiful sapphic relationship which really should be the heart of all gothic novels in future. Check out my full review here.

The Gods of Tango by Carolina de Robertis

A book I am hugely looking forward to reading this month, The Gods of Tango is one I’ve been meaning to read for several years now, but I finally bought a copy! Set in 1913, this book follows the early beginnings of tango music. It’s a book full of exploration of gender and sexuality, and follows Leda, who moves from Italy to Argentina to be married in 1913. But when they arrive, their husband is dead. They long to learn the violin but know they won’t be able to perform as a woman. So Leda takes their husband’s name, Dante, and cuts off their hair to join a tango troupe. But the lines between Leda and Dante begin to blur as they explore their gender and sexuality.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

Possibly the most talked about sapphic romance on my Twitter feed, I finally read this book last month and loved it! This follows female astronomer, Lucy, and her patron, Catherine, as they work to translate a well regarded astronomy text into English. Of course all the men scientists dislike a woman being involved and so try to scuper their plans and discredit Lucy along the way. It is such a sweet and tender romance, with a really interesting plot outside of the romance and brilliant discussions about the importance of both art and science for the advancement of society. (And I should also shout the next book in this series which releases in July called The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows and is all about midcentury beekeeping!!!)

Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

This is one of my absolute favourite books, and also one of my absolute favourite covers in the world. It’s just stunning (and even more so in person!) This is a beautiful bittersweet and heartbreaking story about friendship, family, love and fear. Like a Love Story is set in the late 1980s during the AIDS crisis and follows Reza, an Iranian boy who has just moved to New York and is terrified someone will realise he’s gay; Judy, an aspiring fashion designer who worships her Uncle Stephen, a man living with AIDS; and Art, Judy’s best friend, openly gay boy who documents the AIDS crisis with photographs. It is a intensely powerful book full of activism and courage and finding the strength to be open about who you are.

Music From Another World by Robin Talley

Robin Talley is well known for her historical queer books, and Music From Another World is her most recent book, released earlier this year. It’s about a closeted lesbian surrounded by super religious, antigay family members whose only way of expressing herself is through writing letters to gay activist Harvey Milk. But then she gets matched with a penpal who changes everything. They bond over punk music and shared secrets and and rely on their friendship to get them through the antigay fervour sweeping through the US.

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Patsy might not feel like a historical novel to millenials but the 1990s are officially historical! In Patsy, we meet the titular character in 1998 in Jamaica. Longing to be reuinted with the woman she loves, and best friend Cicely who lives in New York, Patsy leaves behind her young daughter Tru and emigrates to America. The book follows Patsy and Tru and the impact of Patsy’s decision to leave. This is another one that will have you sobbing.

Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski

Another new release, this one is on my TBR this month! Set in 1980s Poland, this debut literary fiction Swimming in the Dark follows two young men, Ludwik and Janusz who meet at an agricultural camp and have an affair. It follows them as one goes into politics in a country where communism is on the out, and the other follows a life of protest, their political differences slowly tearing them apart.

Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon

This is a hugely difficult and emotional read so do take note of the content warnings for this one. Set in 1973, it’s a time where being gay is still considered a mental illness. Jonathan is a sixteen year old anxious teen who’s undergoing therapy to change him, he wants nothing more than to be “normal”. But then Web stumbles into his life before his treatment is over. And he’s drawn to Web more than he’s been drawn to anyone. Web is the first person who has ever thought Jonathan is perfect, just the way he is, and who might help him accept himself for the first time.

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

The Good Luck Girls isn’t historical fiction in the traditional manner, instead this is a historical fantasy set in Western inspired world. It’s described as Westworld meets Handmaid’s Tale which should tell you how amazing this is. The Good Luck Girls follows a group of five girls who are sold into ‘welcome houses’ to act as maids or prostitutes. When one of the five accidentally kills a man, they escape and go on the run to find a woman who can remove their brandings so they can live freely.

I have really been loving all the historical novels I’ve read recently, but it hasn’t been a genre I’ve read much of in the past so I really want to expand my knowledge of this genre! What are some of your favourite queer historical fiction books? Let me know in the comments.

Book review: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Title: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Publisher: Mantle

Publication date: 10 March 2020

Genre: Historical | Adult | Gothic romance

Page extent: 352 pages

Rating:

Goodreads blurb: Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

If gothic mystery and soft sapphic love surrounded by a creepy setting of taxidermy animals sounds amazing, then this is the book for you! I thought this was absolutely gorgeous, so much so, I have now added several of my favourite gothic classics to my immediate TBR and looked out all my old gothic romance films I watched as an impressionable young adult so I can show my partner and he can see how I became who I am. And why I really have A Type when it comes to my film and literature crushes.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor has one of the most interesting premises of all books releasing this year. Yes I said it! What kind of premise makes me give this statement? Well, it’s the start of WW2 and the Natural History Museum is evacuating its animals from London. Hetty, a young assistant at the museum, is tasked with looking after the mammal collection as it travels and stays at Lockwood Manor, a mysterious and haunting old manor house in the country, ruled by the irascible Lord Lockwood, a man who scorns and belittles Hetty for her passion, and his daughter, Lucy, a woman as equally mysterious as the house, who Hetty is immediately drawn to despite her oddity. (Well that was a long sentence). But when the animals start going missing, Hetty’s future at the museum is at stake as she fears any damage to the collection will be held as sorely her responsibility. And with Lord Lockwood refusing to aid in her efforts to find the thief/ghost/mysterious person behind the damage, she must discover the culprit herself.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor is a beautiful return to the setting of all of my favourite classics. This gothic romance and mystery is so reminiscent of my favourites, from Wuthering Heights to Dracula (though Lucy isn’t quite as brooding a love interest). I found the use of the museum’s creatures as a setting absolutely perfect for this style of book. It created such a disturbing atmosphere, always surrounded by thousands of the dark beady eyes of the animals, no matter where Hetty returned something following her and looking at her. It was so creepily delightful!! The story did perhaps start a little slowly, the more mystery part of the book not picking up until further through, but I found I really didn’t mind that much because the language and setting were so captivating I was happy to luxuriate and laze my way through the story.

When the mystery does kick in, the story heats up as Hetty struggles more and more viciously to live with Lord Lockwood as he exerts his control all through the house. You never really know who the real threat is, which is one the things I most adore about these gothic style novels. I was both overwhelmed with hatred for Lord Lockwood and the way he treated Hetty and the museum as if he owned them, whilst simultaneously being completely engrossed in the more supernatural elements: the woman in white who haunted Lucy’s mother and seems to haunt Lucy herself. And the longer Hetty stays at the Manor, the more she seems to be under the spell of this haunting as well…

Of course no book such as this is complete without the seemingly effortless romance of Hetty and Lucy. I love reading romances set in this time period, because the way everyone seems to laze about and lounge and languish is just so perfectly romantic to me. The start of this novel had me squealing in delight as Hetty and Lucy danced around each other, it was such a gentle and unhurried rush to the romance, full of soft brushes of fingers, a glance across a room and of course the drunken brush of lips against a cheek.

Healey has created an absolutely marvellous addition to the gothic romance genre, one I am pleased to say was as beautiful and mesmerising as I expected!