Every family has them, or at least every family in fiction does, and in horror, they’re always the best, especially when set within the walls of huge Gothic mansions surrounded by fog and despair. All of these books are ghost stories, but not all ghost wear chains. So for those of your who like your horror without all of the gore, these ones will be sure to put a chill in your bones without putting you off your dinner.
Margaret Lea is employed to visit with a legendary author Vida Winter to write up her biography before she dies. Her story is an age old tale of twin sisters born of incest left to raise themselves in their families huge but crumbling estate. The sisters are wild, and extremely co-dependent, but under the watch of the house’s only two remaining employees, a gardener and a maid, they manage to get by until their mother/aunt is taken off to a sanitarium and their farther/uncle goes mad with the loss of her and as the years go by, and more people begin to invade the sisters small world things begin to fall apart until their story reaches a tragic crescendo and Lea can finally solve the mystery of Winter’s thirteenth tale.
The unnamed narrator of this classic novel is swept off her feet by a dashing widower and quickly moves to his home, the infamously decadent estate of Manderly. But upon their arrival, she is constantly haunted by the memory of Mr De Winter’s first wife Rebecca that she left behind in every detail of the house and in the minds of all those she encountered, and we find out that even just the memory that remains of someone in the minds of the living, in the footprint their actions leave behind on the lives of those they knew, can inflict just as much damage, can be just as terrible as any phantom.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I know what you’re thinking, Jane Eyre is a love story, and you’d be right. But it’s also a gothic masterpiece riddled with spontaneous fires, unexplained pasts, mansions, dreary landscapes, and most unsettling of all, a mysterious laughter coming from the attic that either nobody but Jane can hear, or wishes to acknowledge. It’s definitely not a horror story, but contains so many tropes from the genre that it’s just a perfect book to read at this time of year.