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Is there a way to identify a true GR by appearance only?
#1
I've learned that just because a book boasts the traditional "girl running from house" cover, does not mean it is a true gothic. Suppose the word "gothic" is on the spine of the book or elsewhere? I'm new to the genre, but I suspect that even a true gothic might not actually state that it is.

And just because a particular author has written a gothic, does not mean all of their books are gothics.

Suppose I'm shopping online for gothics. Is there a way to identify a true GR by appearance only?

What I mean specifically:
Say I'm looking at an auction on eBay: a vintage Gothic Romance in a 20-book lot. To work with, I have only the titles and pictures of the covers. Many of the books do not have the traditional "girl running from house" cover. I compare the titles against a couple of GR lists found on the Internet, and some are not listed. I understand that most GR lists, if any, are not comprehensive by any means, but I can't help but wonder if perhaps the seller is just trying to get rid of their books, even if all of the books in the lot are not gothics, like stated.

Here's another example, a small story:
Last week I was shopping for GRs in used book stores. In one particular store, the seller directed me to the GR section, which was huge. I only glanced at it at the time, as I haggled with the seller. The next day, over the phone I managed to persuade the seller to sell me their GRs at 2/$1 if I bought a large quantity. But when I returned and looked through the books, I decided that probably only 10-15% of the section was true GRs.

I'm concluding that shopping for GRs can be very frustrating!
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#2
Since each reader may define "true Gothic" subjectively, a certain amount of trial-and-error is necessary before you find those books and authors you like best.

As I've expressed in other posts, my personal opinion is that many authors in the genre didn't put enough emphasis on the Gothic atmosphere. I don't require a great love story, despite the "romance" aspect of the label. That part I really can take or leave (although if it's well written I don't mind it) -- but I can't do without the mystery/intrigue/suspense/mood part. Otherwise, where's the Gothic?

If you check the book reviews section of this forum or browse threads such as the "best Gothic list", you might determine some safe bets there. Good luck!
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