Gothic Fiction

Books & Bites Podcast, Ep. 82

JCPL librarians bring you book recommendations and discuss the bites and beverages to pair with them.

For October, we discuss Gothic fiction, one of the prompts on the Books and Bites Bingo Reading Challenge. Our picks have all the creepy mansions, women in the attic, and brooding characters you could possibly want. Not to mention fungi!

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O Caledonia book cover

O Caledonia is a little-known classic that, according to the publisher, “has been compared to the works of the Brontes, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edward Gorey.”

This atmospheric and witty novel opens with the death of 16 year-old Janet, who has been murdered in her family’s dilapidated castle in the Scottish Highlands. Except for her pet jackdaw, nobody seems to miss her much: her family wants her quickly buried and forgotten.

What follows is not a traditional mystery. Instead, the book goes back in time to tell the story of her sad and misunderstood life.

Pairing: Cinnamon scones from Outlander Kitchen: The Official Outlander Companion Cookbook or, for a vegan option, Buttery Scottish Teatime Scones.

Frost book cover

Have you ever felt strongly about a house? You do not know why but for some unexplainable reason you feel a connection or a presence?

In the young adult novel Frost by Marianna Baer, main character Leena has strong feelings the first time she sees an old two-story Victorian house at the edge of her boarding school.

But after Leena moves into the house with her friends, things turn sinister. If you enjoyed Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, you might enjoy Frost.

Pairing: Aztec Chile Chocolate cupcakes.

Mexican Gothic book cover

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is like Lovecraft meets Wuthering Heights.

In 1955 Mexico, young socialite Noemi is sent to High Place after her father receives a distressing letter from her cousin, Catalina. In a crumbling manor on top of a mountain, she finds Catalina confined to her room due to “tuberculosis.”

While her cousin rests during the day, Noemi roams the house and grounds, where she slowly uncovers some of the family’s history and dark secrets–including their strange fascination with fungi.

Pairing: Garlic mushrooms.

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