For me, goth is about what’s on the inside. Seeking out the dark and romantic and weird is a lot more important to me than getting my eyeliner right. This is why I’ve been getting back into horror and gothic novels. I’m all old and stuff, so I get distracted by bills and kids and basic life stuff, and this new year I want to carve out time (with a sharp, bejeweled dagger) to reconnect with the dark and spooky.
Before Christmas I finally finished Penny Dreadful and just about fainted from awesome. Madame Kali (leader of the nightwalkers) is my new role model. In a world full of young and pretty things, she refuses to fade away with age. Not her. She’s just entering the prime of her evil power and she’s clearly as seductive as ever. I love all the characters, but I want to be her as I get older and older. But more than showing me how to age more spookily, Penny Dreadful reminded me how much I’ve missed delving into horror and romance, so this year I’m trying to get back to it.
Most of my New Year’s resolutions are book-related, and one is to read 12 gothic and/or classic horror novels to feed my geeky, gothy mind and heart. This month I’m finally going to finish one of the original gothic novels, The Mysteries of Udolpho. I’m about 3/4 of the way through it, and I’ll tell you all about it when I’m done.
It’s free for Kindle, by the way. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s read it.
Tell me, dearie, do you love long sentences? The kind that waft on the breeze, this way and that, like a leaf on the chill autumn wind? Do you curl up by the fire, safe and warm, and thrill to tales of the cold and the gloom and of those that roam by night? Cozy up next to me, then, and The Turn of the Screw.
It starts as a Christmas ghost story (a tradition well worth reviving, I think): lonely young governess, neglected country house, gardens run wild and past their prime, a mysterious man upon the topmost tower. As the story progresses it all seems so simple, good against evil, governess against ghost. Is it, though? Is it all imagination gone mad? Is this a haunted house or a mind full of shadows? How it really is we can never know.
The long, wandering thoughts and descriptions take attention, and the unanswered questions are exciting and frustrating by turns, but the tale moves along well. There is more mystery and atmosphere than true horror, which is just the thing for a busy holiday season.
I plan to read (or reread) one gothic or horror classic for each month of the coming year. In the quiet of January I shall spend time with Ann Radcliffe, a pioneer of the gothic novel. Her Mysteries of Udolpho was quite popular in its day, enough to catch the notice of Henry James (who mentions the book briefly in The Turn of the Screw) and Jane Austen, who’s Northanger Abbey is a parody of Udolpho and its like.