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Hard time finding "real" gothics
Warning: Mild rant follows . . .

Am I the only one who often feels cheated by books masquerading as "gothic romance" or "gothic suspense" only to find, halfway through, that I'm still waiting for that vaunted "gothicness" to arrive?

During the gothic "craze" of the late 1960s and '70s, publishers went overboard trying to keep up with demand and marketed everything under the sun as "gothic romance". As a result we have many a historical romance or period mystery (albeit often good ones) about which the only thing "gothic" is the cover.

I have fallen victim to this bait-and-switch ploy often enough to grumble about it. I admit, I'm a sucker for cover art -- I can fall in love with a book simply because the cover appeals to me. The disappointment is falling out of love when the thrillingly sinister manor house on the cover, and its concomitant atmosphere of romantic tenebrosity, fail to appear in the story itself. I have plodded through numerous well written if moodless Victorian soap-operas wondering when the author planned to bring on the gothic.

How do I define gothic? I'm not hard to please. A few well chosen set-pieces and an appropriate backdrop would be a start, and a "gathering-storm" atmosphere.

Recently I picked up another faux gothic only to drop it halfway through when, to my groaning irritation, the story shifted locale (apparently for good) to a sunny Mediterranean locale. Ugh!

I realize that the "old dark house" setting is a cliché. It was a cliché when Rebecca was written. But for me, a gothic without an old dark house is a misnomer.
I don't think you're alone. I've had to just accept gothic themes without the traditional settings, and even those are hard to come by right now. I would welcome the poorly written gothics from the 60s and 70s.
I agree. Say what you will, story is not Gothic without old eerie house.
I don't mind different locales because they can be creepy (think a decrepit palazzo along the Grand Canal in Venice, or a yacht moored in the Aegean)--not to mention that some of the gothic romance greats like Victoria Holt, Nancy Buckingham, Phyllis A. Whitney, etc didn't limit their settings to Cornwall and Yorkshire... Wink

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