When it comes to fiction, my favourite genre by far is one that would probably be best described as “modern gothic novels“… but which I think of simply as “books about mysterious old houses which conceal a dark secret“.
I´m not joking, by the way: I actually have a collection on my Kindle which has the title “Books About Mysterious Old Houses”, and it currently has over 20 titles in it, so… yeah, I enjoy a mysterious house story, for sure. Especially if it contains a dark secret, obviously. I suspect this is just the natural continuation of my childhood obsession with mystery and adventure stories: I´ve always loved a good mystery, and these modern gothic novels are essentially the grown-up version of the Famous Five (Side note: I REALLY wish someone would write a grown-up version of the Famous Five. I know there have been various spoof versions over the years, but I would totally read a real one, complete with smugglers, and monkeys, and lashings and lashings of
ginger beer wine…).
Most of these modern gothic novels follow a similar kind of format. There´s normally a young woman, living in the 21st century, who, for various reasons, finds herself arriving at the gates of a mysterious old house, burried deep in the countryside. Maybe she´s discovered an old letter amongst a dead grandparent´s belongings, and it´s piqued her curiosity. Maybe she´s writing a book set in the past, and is doing some research. Maybe she´s a poor, struggling governess, who has nowhere else to go, and who is forced to throw herself on the mercy of her new employer – a haughty, and yet devastatingly attractive man, who our heroine is strangely drawn to, even although his aloof demeanour suggests that he, too, is hiding a dark secret. Maybe she even decides to marry this man, but then it turns out that he´s got his mad first wife hidden in the attic, and … wait: I´m just describing the plot of Jayne Eyre now, aren´t I?
I don´t think Jayne Eyre really counts as “modern” gothic, exactly, but then again, neither do all of the books in this list. I´ve played a little bit fast-and-loose with that description here, but all of the books in this list have one thing in common: they all feature a mysterious old house, with a devastating secret. Enjoy!
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam
The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan
The Lake House by Kate Morton
The Legacy by Katherine Webb
The Unseen by Katherine Webb
The Dream House by Rachel Hore
House of Echoes by Barbara Erskine
A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore
House of Silence by Linda Gillard
Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Oh, and if you´re wondering why I mentioned having over 20 of these books in my Kindle collection, but have only listed 15 of them here, well, the rest are over in this post, which contains even more mysterious old houses, for those of you who share my love of them!