English Gothic Horror

What is English Gothic Horror?

English Gothic refers to the pseudo-medieval buildings in which a lot of the stories were set in. Before Gothic became a subgenre, the term was used to describe horror books. Now, English Gothic is a term that refers to Gothic fiction set in an English setting -- a castle, countryside, etc.

About Gothic Literature

The image of the horror 'classics' come to mind when people say Gothic literature. Good examples of newer Gothic works would be The Crow movies and Batman. A theme in Gothic novels is that the characters often feel trapped, whether it be internally or externally. Antiquity is prominent thematically as well. Atmosphere plays a large role in the subgenre. Authors and readers of Gothic literature associate a lot of the feelings with the settings.



Characteristics of English Gothic

Level of Characterization
High. The sanity of the characters are often tested in Gothic stories.

Level of Plot Complexity
Low-moderate. The plots tend to be straight forward. Gothic stories are more focused on characters with growing psychosis and eerie settings.

Level of Supernatural
High amount. A majority of this subgenre's works involve a supernatural element.

Level of Scary

Level of Violence
Moderate-high. Portrayed tastefully and not for pure shock value. 

Typical Setting
Deteriorating, isolated castles or mansions. Cities and houses in newer works.

Related Fantasy Sub-Genres

Supernatural and Cthulhu Mythos.

English Gothic Isn’t For You If You Dislike

Antiquity in terms of style, themes, atmosphere, etc.


    1. Dracula, Bram Stoker. Dracula attempts to move from Transylvania to England. A battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Van Helsing ensues.

    2. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. A young aristocrat sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty.

    3. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. Dr. Frankenstein assembles a human from stolen body. The creature turns evil and seeks revenge against his creator.

    4. Interview With The Vampire, Anne Rice. A vampire named Louis tells his 200-year-long life story to a reporter.

    5. The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe's work is a perfect example of Gothic literature.

    6. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson. Four seekers have come an old, abandoned mansion looking for evidence of the psychic occurrence called haunting.

    7. The Shining, Stephen King. The story of a psychic kid and a haunted hotel.

    8. The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman. A toddler wanders into a graveyard after his family is murdered. Ghosts and other supernatural beings raise him there.

    9. Let The Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist. A troubled boy makes friends with a vampire.

    10. House Of Leaves, Mark Danielewski. A family moves into a house that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.    

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