Photo courtesy of Simon & Schuster

For centuries, the gothic literary tradition has been keeping readers up at night, eyes wide and hands gripped tightly around the binding. From nineteenth century penny dreadfuls to Stephen King’s The Shining, the genre has evolved in style while still preserving the traditions set forth by the classics. Laced with themes of claustrophobia, paranoia and haunted pasts, these five gothic tales will get you excited for the Halloween season.   

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

Along with Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley, Ann Radcliffe is said to have laid the foundation for the Gothic-Horror genre. Her most acclaimed novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, follows the mental undoing of a young orphan who is trapped in a dark castle with her threatening uncle and an unwanted suitor. She is soon overcome with horrific fantasies and uncontrollable bouts of terror.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

This seventies American classic begins with a tortured mother who hides her children away in an attic in order to keep them a secret from her dying father. What was only supposed to last a few days, ends up lasting years. Trapped in a cramped and unforgiving world, the children begin to experience strange desires and nefarious dreams that catch the eye of their grim, superstitious grandmother who sees the devil lurking in the shadows.  

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskind

Set in the slums of eighteenth-century Paris, what begins as a harmless passion grows into a insatiable lust that drives a man to murder. Patrick Süskind, a best-selling German author, spins a tale of strange, depraved sensuality. A young man, born with an exceptional sense of smell, spends his life attempting to capture exotic, unusual scents for a prominent Parisian perfumer. His gift becomes a dangerous obsession when he sets out to capture the smell of a beautiful young woman.  

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show creeps into Green Town, Illinois one fateful evening and wreaks havoc on the unassuming midwestern community. Two boys take it upon themselves to unveil the mysteries of the sinister, seductive Carnival show and prevent anyone else from wandering into the smoky maze of mirrors, never to return again. This nightmarish tale captivates from start to finish.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

If there is one thing Swedes know how to do, it’s how to scare the hell out of the rest of the world. In a sterile Stockholm suburb, twelve-year-old Oskar becomes enamored with the new girl next-door, Eli. Although he senses that something is off, it takes Oskar a while to draw a connection between the strange midnight happenings nextdoor and a string of ghastly murders.