Gothics Anyone?

One of the first series that I read after leaving the teen section of the local bookstore was to go to the Gothic Romances. This was probably mid to late 70s and Gothics were very big then. The ones I read all had young women who were hired on to do a job for a man they'd never met. They arrive at a mysterious destination and suddenly, they find that they are in danger. Though they find themselves attractive to their demon-like employer, they can't help but wonder who is behind all the mysterious threats. These books usually had a cover of a girl running from a castle on a dark night with one light in a window of the castle. The romances were chaste (but then, so was I) and they were the type of book to be read by flashlight under the covers. I devoured these. I went through the entire Phenwick women series (all except for maybe 2) that were written by Kathryn Kimbrough (an alias for James Kimbrough). But when I look back at it, there were other books that I read before that fed into this love of Gothic. One of my favorite YA's was Witch of Blackbird Pond. I still have my ragged copy. When I think back to that time I believe that the public's love of the combination of simplistic and honest romance with Gothic themes changed greatly with the publication of Carrie by Stephen King. I'm not saying that he was responsible for the demise of it... it's never truly gone away. But with Carrie there become a harder, more realistic edge to all Gothic, paranormal (etc) fiction and that filtered down through all genres. I know he scared the daylights out of me as I read Salem's Lot while babysitting in a remote farmhouse.

But is Gothic dead? Did it ever die out completely? I don't think so. Those elements are the same that are evident in even Mr. King's books. He's just brought a piercingly sharp focus to the fears that those early Gothics tickled at...

I still haunt used bookstores looking for those used 70s Gothics. I probably always will. In the meantime, I'm infusing my own books with that brand of Gothic suspense.

1 comment:

Morgan Mandel said...

Gothics were my very favorite for a long while. Now I'll read one if it has a good twist to it. I don't see that many out there.

Morgan Mandel

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