Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Bronte Seminal work of the second-best Bronte and a personal favourite of mine, all you Kate Bush fans owe it to yourselves to finally read Wuthering Heights this autumn. Not to be con- fused, although it’s very easily done, with the critically acclaimed Withering Tights from the author of Angus Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, although that is another excellent one to add to the list. The novel follows tumultuous relationships between the Earnshaws and the Lintons and details the dire consequences of bad parenting. If you make the wise decision to transport yourself to the windy Yorkshire moors, you can expect to despise pretty much all the characters and be confused by all the repeated names. But I promise it’s worth it, at least to understand the Kate Bush lyrics. Recommended reading spot: bench in the Lade Braes, preferably on a dreich and windy day
The Bloody Chamber (1979) by Angela Carter A group of macabre short stories you can dip in and out of—ideal if you can’t find the time for a whole novel when deadlines are looming, or even for those who can’t quite stomach more than 100 pages with our ever-decreasing attention spans in this age of overstimulation. In this pivotal collection, Carter turns the well-known fairy tales of your childhood on their head in these gruesome subversions of the traditional tales, brimming with sex, violence, and gothic horror. She even plays with the conventional portrayals of women and their roles in relationships. Fairy tales and feminism—a winning combination if you ask me. Recommended reading spot: St Andrews Castle (be sure to bring your matriculation card for free entry!)
Rebecca (1938) by Daphne Du Maurier Drama, death, and deceit. What more could you want? If that’s not quite enough to sway you, Rebecca is a quintessential gothic romance, replete with parallels to Jane Eyre and owner of one of the most memorable opening lines in modern fiction: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. 83 years later, an impressive 4,000 or so copies are still sold each month, which I confidently assume will double for the month of October following the publication of this issue. Dark and unsettling, this book is perfect to pick up this time of year. Its many adaptations are also definitely worth a look, especially Hitchcock’s 1940 Oscar-winning film, although Wheatley’s 2020 remake unfortunately falls a bit flat. Recommended reading spot: bench on the Scores overlooking Castle Sands (please attempt to envisage the boat)
The Secret History (1992) by Donna Tartt
Donna Tartt’s first novel has gathered more contemporary interest in the last few years, largely it seems due to the emerging sub-genre of “dark academia”. If you’re a fan of ancient Greek tragedies, collegiate New England or just want to romanticise your uni work to get through the semester, then The Secret History is calling your name. Infinitely quotable and bursting with fantastic names, Tartt’s gripping murder mystery and literary thriller is the perfect companion as the days get progressively shorter. Recommended reading spot: just before sunset in St Mary’s Quad
The poetry of Edgar Allan Poe If you’re feeling down and want to bask in your gloom, then Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry of grief and isolation can definitely help you to prolong your sulking. If this is your desired effect or you just want something dark and dreary as Halloween quickly approaches, most of his poems should do the trick. Much of his poetry contains the classic tropes of Gothic literature: otherness, ambiguity, un- defined locations and narrators, and the supernatural. Special mentions go to “The Raven” (1845), Annabel Lee (1849) and “Alone” (1875), all of which are exceedingly melancholy, de- pressing and primarily preoccupied with the death of beautiful women. Recommended reading spot: the Cathedral and cemetery—wearing all black is actively encouraged.