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Henri Duchemin and His Shadows – Emmanuel Boye

One of my all time favorite non-Gothic Gothics! Bove is a vastly under appreciated early 20th century French writer. His short story/ novella “Night Crime” comes rather close to achieving eerie perfection. It’s Gothic in the way of claustrophobia, anxiety, and the overwhelming desire to retreat from a looming unpleasantness that’s hard to name. Overall, […]

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The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

Always in the mood for a Victorian ghost story—especially one published in 2013 by the youngest (28) Man Booker prize winner in history. Dark and stormy nights, New Zealand gold rush, a group of men mysteriously congregating, a young man running away from something. Also, perhaps the most unique part of this 832 page novel […]

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Revenge – Yoko Ogawa

Author: Yoko Ogawa (Japan) Book: Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales (originally published in 1998) Highlight stories: “Afternoon at the Bakery,” “Old Mrs. J,” “Sewing for the Heart” In “Old Mrs. J,” a young woman moves to a remote seaside apartment to focus on her writing. She starts taking an interest in her landlady, a kind but […]

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The Imposter – Silvina Ocampo

Story: “The Imposter,” a novella (1948)

Author: Silvina Ocampo (Argentina)

Book: Thus We’re Their Faces (anthology)

A young man is sent to an isolated mansion in the countryside to study in the company of Armando Heredia, the allegedly disturbed and reclusive son of the protagonist’s father’s friend. As the pair become close, Heredia becomes increasingly suspicious that our protagonist has been sent there by his father to “keep an eye on him.” Meanwhile, our protagonist becomes obsessed with the mysterious woman who Heredia claims to love. He claims to have secret rendezvous with her, yet in reality, she died years ago. The story is set in the oppressively hot Argentinian summer, on the edge of a swelling and lonely marsh.

Why it’s gothic: this story simply IS gothic, there’s no two ways about it. There’s doomed romance, healthy doses of psychological terror, a sublimely harsh natural landscape, and a bleak house that “no one goes to anymore.” The sense that something isn’t right floods this novella from the very beginning. But it’s the relationship between our protagonist and Heredia that propels the narrative forward. They’re both deeply intimate with one another yet entirely distrustful, at each step trying to uncover each other’s true intentions. Their relationship leads to a twist ending that will not disappoint. Ocampo writes in an underwritten, high impact style. Her eerie scenes linger long after you turn the page.