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How did you first get interested in Gothic books?
How did you first get interested in Gothic books?
I read Victoria Holt's Mistress of Mellyn and was hooked. Then I explored Phyllis Whitney and Dorothy Eden's works. After reading all of Holt's and Whitney's books in print, I felt held hostage by the fact that only one hardcover by each author was available per year. Of course that was a long time ago....still hooked, and have a shelf full of to-be-read gothic romances that is 20+ feet long! What a comforting feeling!
I do not remember what my first Gothic was, but it may have been "Castle of Fear" or "Climb the Dark Mountain" when I was in my early teens. My interest in Gothics developed naturally from reading juvenile/young adult mysteries. I never paid any attention to the authors, just the stories. But I had run across a copy of "Climb the Dark Mountain" a few years after I read it, so I knew it was Julie Wellesley. I never knew who wrote "Castle of Fear" until earlier this year, when I found it at a book sale. I was very surprised to find that it was Barbara Cartland. I found out later that she did write some Gothics. Like you, GothicLover, I became completely "hooked" after reading Victoria Holt's "Mistress of Mellyn". I have read almost all her books. I also enjoyed Dorothy Eden but I have not read much of Phyllis Whitney.
It's strange to look back and evaluate your reading interests. Growing up, my first interests were fairy tales, mostly Brothers Grimm. Then juveniles mysteries, etc. Really, you can classify the Grimm fairy tales as Gothic tales with some fantasy. That's probably why Disney and others have capitalized on the suspense in those stories. I think deep down, more people are interested in Gothics than they will admit.
Even though I didn't associate myself with Gothic literature until much later in life, I had a natural inclination towards the genre. I grew up in an Old World Portuguese Catholic family, feeling one step removed from the Middle Ages at times.

First and foremost, I fell in love with mysteries, then with atmospheric mysteries, and then with atmospheric novels, not necessarily mysteries. I started with the mysteries Phyllis A. Whitney wrote for young readers and the old Nancy Drews with creepy covers and tame mysteries. As a teenager, Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Letter, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (I know, not Gothic romances) were the first books that wet my appetite for the dark, gloomy, and ancient. Ivanhoe wet my appetite for romantic adventure.
I've never read Umberto Eco's book, but my husband has, and he tells me it is a great book. I liked the "atmospheric" novels as well. I never read Ivanhoe, but I do remember as a kid watching all those movies - Ivanhoe (Prince Valiant), Robin Hood, the swashbuckling movies, etc. They were a very romantic period.
I was dying for something to read, and for some odd reason, thought the "adult fiction" section was for adults only (I had an irrational fear of librarians. Ironic considering I am training to be one), and as a result, never left the YA section until I was 18. lol

I was browsing, browsing, browsing and suddenly, my eye caught upon a Victoria Holt title. I don't know what drew me to the book, but it was fate, I say. I consumed every book in the library with the sort of script gothic romance hardcovers shared, and any book illustrated by (what I soon recognized) artists who did most of the gothic romance covers, like Ben Stahl or Richard Clifton-Dey. Victoria Holt and her pen name, Philippa Carr, Jill Tattersall, Anne-Marie Sheridan, Mary Linn Roby, Phyllis Whitney (until I discovered that she recycled her plots over and over again) Carola Salisbury, et al.

It's funny, but, when I am burnt out on any other genre of book, or I have no clue what to read, a gothic romance, no matter how often I've read it, always remains enjoyable.
  • ¬†Edwardian Promenade
I'm a fan of the original Dark Shadows (1966 - 1971), enjoyed Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid...and after getting tired of reading lots of non-fiction, decided to give Gothic novels a try. Am glad I did. Smile
I am also a fan of the original Dark Shadows. I was 12 years old when it went off the air.

I bought a few of the paperbacks by Marilyn Ross and my public library steered me toward Barbara Michaels. I still have the entire set of the Dark Shadows paperbacks as well as some original paperback editions of Victoria Holt and Barbara Michaels with their terrific Harry Bennett illustrations. About ten years ago I acquired an old fashioned wire book rack in which they are proudly displayed.

The most recent Gothic I read was a re-read of Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting. Great book! As a teenager I turned to Stephen King and followed his work for years, as well as other horror authors, but my own writing more and more turns back toward Gothic and Gothic styling.
readertim Wrote:How did you first get interested in Gothic books?

I'm a relative newcomer to the genre.

I was house-sitting and had run out of things to read. I found a few old paperbacks on a shelf and among them was Bride of Pendorric by Victoria Holt. At first I thought it was simply a romance novel and put it aside. Later I glanced through it and, noticing the quality of her prose, began to read it. I don't think I got up once until I finished it.

After that I discovered Mary Stewart, although generally I find Victoria Holt slightly more gripping. I'm glad Victoria was so prolific -- I haven't even started to graze the surface of her output.

I'm sure there are many other good authors of "gothics" that I have yet to discover -- thanks to this forum I'm starting to collect them one by one.

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