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Definition of horror Gothic
#1
A good question has been raised that needs to be discussed so that we can decide what to do with this section.

What is a horror Gothic? How does it differ from horror novels?

Although there is some slight variation in definition of a Gothic romance, we all agree that it must contain some mystery and suspense as well as romance. Since most of us on this forum probably do not read horror novels regularly, it would be difficult to define it accurately. However, each of us has his/her own ideas on the subject and all views would be appreciated.

Although Gothic romances began with the mystery and romance, the word Gothic came to mean other things. That's why Frankenstein came to be considered one of the classic Gothic tales. I found very little to recommend that book as a romance, although some may argue that Frankenstein's monster roamed the world to find love when his master abandoned him (we can discuss that later). Frankenstein paved the way for science fiction and horror stories. I would consider Frankenstein as a Gothic horror. The idea of creating a new being from dead body parts is rather ghastly to me. The element of the supernatural/science fiction gives this novel a "Gothic" feel.

On the other hand, many of the horror novels written today would only be horror, in the sense that it glorifies gore. Homicidal maniacs, mass murderers and such as you would find in horror movies (Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street type) are good examples.

What I would consider as horror Gothic romance would be a Gothic horror incorporating a romance. For example, the book I read called "The Danse Macabre" (which I still have not found the correct author). The horror element in this novel (at least for me) was the idea of the devil incarnate in a child. The governess and her charge (the child's sister) are the terrorized victims. And of course, the governess is involved in a romance with someone outside the family.
This is the kind of book I would consider as horror Gothic romance, not just horror Gothic, like Frankenstein, and not a horror novel. And I believe horror Gothic romance in this form should remain on this forum.

What do the others think? Have I managed to confuse everyone?
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#2
After months and months of thinking about this definition, I think that there are still "horror gothic" romances being written, such as Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake books. But those are pretty graphic romances and may not be to everyone's tastes. And they are pretty bloody.

In general, I think horror gothic is different than horror in that it is very much a mood piece. Setting, atmosphere, history, can all play a role. A horror novel can just involve an axe-wielding maniac or serial killer and little else.

Horror gothic is more psychological and character-driven too. There is often a mystery involved. Horror gothic is also less sadistic although there may be other, non-physical horrors involved.
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#3
To me the term Gothic has is very wide-reaching, which is why two classic books that seem to be in two different genres, Jane Eyre and Frankenstein, are both termed gothic. I understand that the focus of this group is for the Golden Era Gothics. I wouldn't quite call Barbara Michaels works "horror gothic" but if we define horror gothic as dealing with the supernatural, then books like Ammie, Come Home, Here I Stay, Be Buried in The Rain, Prince of Darkness, The Dark on the Other side, with their plots involving witchcraft, ghosts, reincarnation, and werewolves, would fall into this category. Anne Rice to me is horro gothic, because she uses a very baroque and ornate style. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a terrific author who died about ten years ago named Michael McDowell who wrote a number of Southern Gothic/Horror Novels. Blackwater was originally published as six short novels, The Elementals, and Cold Moon Over Babylon all feature ghosts and supernatural goings on, but they are also great family dramas in the tradition of Southern classics. I consider these books "horror light", similar to VC Andrews, in that the ideas are gruesome but the writing itself does not dwell on the gruesomeness.
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#4
Monique Devereaux Wrote:To me the term Gothic has is very wide-reaching, which is why two classic books that seem to be in two different genres, Jane Eyre and Frankenstein, are both termed gothic. I understand that the focus of this group is for the Golden Era Gothics. I wouldn't quite call Barbara Michaels works "horror gothic" but if we define horror gothic as dealing with the supernatural, then books like Ammie, Come Home, Here I Stay, Be Buried in The Rain, Prince of Darkness, The Dark on the Other side, with their plots involving witchcraft, ghosts, reincarnation, and werewolves, would fall into this category. Anne Rice to me is horro gothic, because she uses a very baroque and ornate style. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a terrific author who died about ten years ago named Michael McDowell who wrote a number of Southern Gothic/Horror Novels. Blackwater was originally published as six short novels, The Elementals, and Cold Moon Over Babylon all feature ghosts and supernatural goings on, but they are also great family dramas in the tradition of Southern classics. I consider these books "horror light", similar to VC Andrews, in that the ideas are gruesome but the writing itself does not dwell on the gruesomeness.

I've never heard of Michael McDowell. Sounds like I better add him to my list. Thanks!
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#5
The only book of Michael McDowell's currently in print is Candles Burning, which was unfinished at the time of his death. It was completed by Tabitha King (bka Mrs. Stephen King). The story is about a little girl growing up in the south in the late 50s / early 60s who has untapped powers of witchcraft. It's far less of a horror story and far more of a Southern Gothic Family Drama than any of his other books. Unfortunately, Ms King was a poor choice to complete the book. The change in writing style is quite abrupt halfway through the book, and the second half of the story becomes crass and silly, not to mention that the story jumps forward a number of years very quickly.

His books show up on eBay frequently. I paid about ten bucks for a mangled copy of Cold Moon Over Babylon this past year, but I had to have it!
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#6
Quote: On the other hand, many of the horror novels written today would only be horror, in the sense that it glorifies gore.

so true .... honestly, where's the poetry? It's just all bloodlust. I haven't read many Gothic Horror stories but I thought gothic horror should be something a bit .... demented and disturbed, while still being beautifully written and showing strong emotion.

For example, I heard of an upcoming movie of a take of Alice in Wonderland, where Alice becomes depressed after her parents die and Wonderland becomes demented to reflect her. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0466663/)
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#7
Qew Wrote:so true .... honestly, where's the poetry? It's just all bloodlust. I haven't read many Gothic Horror stories but I thought gothic horror should be something a bit .... demented and disturbed, while still being beautifully written and showing strong emotion.

You might try Sarah Langan's The Keeper and The Missing. She is a contemporary horror writer with a literate style. Cherie Priest writes a Southern Gothic mystery series supernatural overtones with quite a bit of attention to stylistic prose starting with Four and Twenty Blackbirds. For modern classics, if you haven't read them, Thomas Tryon's The Other and Harvest Home, published in the early 70s, are beautifully written novels of quiet Gothic horror. Going back a bit further, Shirley Jackson's books, particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House are highly literature modern gems of the Gothic horror tradition.

Sadly, American publishers don't seem to be concerned about quality prose in any genre writing these days.
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#8
I read a short story of Sarah Langan's, The Secrets of the Living, and I really enjoyed it, thanks for that.

However, what I thought horror goth fiction was, is a little more like Edgar Allen Poe's Tell-Tale Heart or The Black Cat.

Or, alternatively, something more supernatural. For example, as you have said, Monique Devereaux, Frankenstein
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#9
I enjoyed reading 'A Prisoner in Fairyland' and 'Adventures of Ferdinand Count Fathom' recently.
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#10
There is a doctor who book: Goth Opera, if anybody knows about it, I was wondering what they would define it as. Personally I think it Gothic horror, but I'm not very experianced
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