Haunted houses. Spectral ghosts. Family curses. Dark romance. Nothing beats a dark, winter night to settle down with one of cozy Gothic romance books. An ideal setup involves curling up near a fire, nestled in fluffy blankets, sipping orange hot chocolate whilst being surrounded by the scent of seasonal spice.
It’s the perfect time of year to get hooked on the beautiful, mysterious castles or houses, rebellious anti-heroes (or even a central villain), turbulent relationships and spooky atmospheres. Although haunted houses and unsolved mysteries do go together perfectly, you also can find Gothicism in romance.
The Gothic romance genre became popular during the 19th and late 18th century. It is a branch or an adaptation of the Romanticism movement that came about in the 17th century, moved into Dark Romanticism and then Gothic romance was born, a genre of literature that covers horror and romance.
Immersed in the imaginative exaggeration of the tragic, the heavily romantic and the mysterious, nurtured with the veil of the metaphysical that gives serious touches of inhumanity and raises expectations for the unexpected, the narratives of Gothic romance books move on these narrative axes with all the characteristics of a Gothic novel rich in all its expressions. Also, by offering instigating and imaginative entertainment, they (among other things) awaken in us ultimate feelings of contemplation, dread and nostalgia.
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The Ultimate Guide to Best Gothic Romance Books From Modern to Classics
This post is specifically for lovers of the paranormal and romance, proposing some best Gothic romance books that, if you read them at night and in the dark, make you tremble with fear, with a climax of creepy appearance and phenomena.
1. Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz
A delicious mix of historical fiction, forbidden romance, gripping mystery, with a dash of fantasy and horror. Anatomy: A Love Story is a Gothic, feminist, and at times macabre Regency-era love story, between an ambitious young woman fighting against societal restrictions to become a surgeon and a man who survives by stealing dead bodies and selling them to the medical school. Schwartz takes the best elements from multiple genres and combines them to create a captivating and unique story.
2. Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen
An atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, horror, intrigue, and romance, Shadows of Swanford Abbey is described as “Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen”. Set in a grand hotel that formerly had been a monastery, the story unfolds an intriguing Gothic romance mystery full of clever twists and turns. There are ghosts, mysterious deaths, secret passages, murder, a slew of interesting suspects, and maybe a second chance of love. If you’re one of those readers who’ve been waiting for a new classic to be written, this book is for you!
3. Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep
Michelle Griep’s Lost in Darkness is a promising Gothic romance novel inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Set during the Regency era, travel writer Amelia has to put a pause to go home to help her disfigured brother go through a brand new surgery. There she meets a new surgeon named Graham and together they have suspicions of the lead surgeon. The story is Gothic with its suspense and romance. And there are several parts of the suspense that drive you crazy, desperately turning the pages till the end.
4. Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
One of the best Gothic romance books inspired by Jane Eyre, Within These Wicked Walls is a binge read with deliciously eerie and dark vibes. Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse homes of the Evil Eye. When Magnus Rochester hires her, Andromeda has no choice but to accept. Even though this job is like no other, Magnus is clearly hiding a lot from her, and she may end up dead before she leaves his castle. The book is highly recommended if you enjoy YA horror, dark atmosphere and a bit of romance in your reads.
5. Parting the Veil by Paulette Kennedy
Drenched in Gothic allure, Parting the Veil is a treasure of a story where ghosts—both figurative and literal—drift between the cracks of a crumbling mansion in 19th century England. When Eliza inherits an estate from her deceased aunt, she finds herself falling for the mysterious Viscount of Havenwood and her neighbor, Malcolm Winfield. But there’s something terribly wrong at Havenwood Manor: forbidden rooms, strangely guarded servants, ghostly whispers in the shadows. What’s Malcolm’s troubling history? Is he a man or a monster?
6. Gothikana by RuNyx
A dark academia Gothic romance, Gothikana is a beautifully written book, covered in suspense and mystery, full of spine chills, that will keep you on the edge of the cliff with each gust of wind. After the death of her mother, Corvina receives a mysterious invitation to attend a school that she cannot find any information on. Wanting some adventure and to experience life a little more, she accepts and travels to the University of Verenmore that turns out to be a castle on the top of a mountain, oozing secrets and danger. And thus begins an intriguing tale of the macabre and a passionate love that blossoms in the unlikeliest of places.
If you’ve already devoured it and wondering what to read after Gothikna or want to binge-read dark academia books like Gothikna then check out these 20 Must-Read Dark Academia Books With Gripping Gothic Vibe
7. The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
A ‘Crimson Peak’-inspired story, The Death of Jane Lawrence is eerie, atmospheric, and unsettling. Set in an imagined version of post-war England, the story follows Jane, an accountant living in an alternative postwar England, who gets more than she bargained for when she enters a marriage of convenience with a man who owns a potentially haunted house. If you are looking for one of the classic Gothic romance books, this novel will be right up your alley.
8. Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone
Gloriously atmospheric, immersive and engaging, Lakesedge is a tale drawing from the gorgeous gloom of Phantom of the Opera and Wuthering Heights. It’s an eerie Gothic romance book with elements of the paranormal and filled with lush descriptions of a haunting beautiful manor near a cursed lake. When Violeta Graceling arrives at the haunted Lakesedge estate, she remembers the terrifying rumors about Rowan Sylvanan, who drowned his entire family when he was a boy. But neither the monster nor the estate are what they seem; the real monster lies in the dark depths of the lake.
9. Fables and Other Lies by Claire Contreras
A bit of magic steeped in mystery and intrigue, Fables and Other Lies mixes cultural folklore with romance and fiction. We follow Penelope and River as they wind the streets of Pan Island, forever lost and waiting. The island holds many secrets and eventually those secrets will spill into the streets of revelers, washing with it the truths unspoken. The entire world building, history, and the forbidden edge makes it one of the most enthralling Gothic romance books of all time. It is based in part around a folklore, twisted and woven into a modern telling of sorts.
10. Nightshade by Keri Lake
A dark paranormal gothic romance, Nightshade by Keri Lake is another incredible story. It’s an uncanny, suspenseful, soul shattering love story filled with everything you’d expect in Gothic romance books. There are angels, demons, religion, a curse that spans over centuries and a love that refuses to end. Told in a past/present style, there are two love stories set hundreds of years apart being told in tandem. Love, passion, suspense, dark and gore details pervade the pages of the book. Prepare yourself for a dark and forbidden ride!
11. The Isle of Sin and Shadows by Keri Lake
A mix of twisted romance, Gothic mystery, haunted mansion and morally gray characters, The Isle of Sin and Shadows is totally gripping, suspenseful and eerie. Celeste James has vague memories of her childhood. All she remembers is her father being murdered by a devilish creature when she was young. And one of the last things he told her before he died was to not go back home. But ten years later she returns to her hometown where these awful things took place and finds herself caught up in a web darker than she could have imagined.
12. Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft
One of the best Gothic romance books of the year, Down Comes the Night manages to be both intriguing, creepy but ultimately heartwarming. This book surrounds the Healer and the Reaper, two soldiers from opposing war-torn countries trapped together in a crumbling (possibly haunted) mansion desperate to solve a murder mystery. They are forced to work together to not only stop their two nations from entering yet another pointless war, but also to help one another confront their own demons. Atmospheric and lyrical, the book is laced with wintery Gothic terror and driven by a love story so tense as well as tender.
13. A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
If you’re looking for a dark, atmospheric, lush, Gothic romance story to sink your teeth into, A Dowry of Blood is highly recommended. It’s a Dracula retelling/reimagining, told through the perspective of one of his wives, starting with when he sired her and following them throughout the centuries they spent together. The author has beautifully depicted a ‘love’ filled with obsession, rage, rejection, abandonment and reconciliation through haunting characters. It’s one of the most exquisite and powerful books, evoking intense emotions through stunning metaphors and imagery.
14. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Although the romance is on a weaker and platonic side, this stunning Gothic horror, Mexican Gothic fully embraces traditional gothic tropes, yet also handles the genre with such creativity and skill, that it constantly breathes fresh life into classic tropes. Noemí Taboada, a glamorous socialite, receives a distressing letter from her cousin, Catalina, who has just married her dream man. Determined to help Catalina, she leaves the comforts of Mexico City for High Place, a gloomy mansion in the middle of nowhere. In there, Noemí will have to deal with Catalina’s new family, the eccentric and standoffish Doyles. As if this wasn’t enough, something seems to be lurking in the shadows.
Mexican Gothic talks on the larger issues of racism, classism, genetic purity, body horror and colonization through the lens of gothic horror. If you don’t mind slight blood and gore, then the book is worth a read for it’s inventive twist.
15. House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
A wonderful, immersive and enchanting read, House of Salt and Sorrows is dark and creepy with a hint of romance. The premise of this book is quite intriguing. It’s a much more sinister, Gothic, spine-chilling retelling of the ‘Twelve Dancing Princesses’. This time it’s about the twelve daughters of an island duke. But one after another, the four of them died. The town speaks of a cursed family but inside Highmoor there lives only a grieving family. And only one member in the family believes that the deaths are more than mere “accidents”. A perfect book for those want a horror read but can’t handle lots of terror.
16. The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright
A breathtakingly mysterious story, The House on Foster Hill is one of the best Gothic romance books. Told in dual-timelines, the story focuses on Ivy (in the past) and Kaine (present day). The eerie, old house on Foster Hill plays a huge role in the lives of both these women. In fact, the author’s descriptive narrative makes the house come alive and you can almost feel the evil that emanated from within its abandoned old walls. Well constructed and intriguing from cover to final word, it’s a book you do not want to miss, whether you’ve read Jaime before or not.
17. A Stitch in Time by Kelley Armstrong
A gripping time travel Gothic romance, A Stitch in Time promises to steal your heart. Bronwyn grew up spending her childhood at the haunted Thorne Manor where she could slip through time to visit William, a boy her own age, born two centuries earlier. But after a terrible mistake of mentioning William and ghosts, she was institutionalized and convinced that William was simply a figment of her imagination and ghosts weren’t real. Now 20 years later, Bronwyn has inherited Thorne Manor. She finds it just as haunted as she left it, and William is still waiting for her in his time. But the more the two of them reconnect, the more the ghosts haunt her.
18. The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven by Peter Gray
A beautiful blend of romance and paranormal horror, The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven will keep you hooked till the very end. The story revolves around Theodore (Teddy) Woven who lives alone with just a cat in his ancestral home that’s secluded from the rest of the village, and Sella, who is appointed here as a substitute gardener for a week. Both have an inexplicable attraction for each other from the very first day but there’s something disturbing about Teddy’s peculiar and mysterious ways. And what’s the reason behind the creepiness of this house? If you’re looking for some mystery thriller with a tinge of dark romance, this book is a must-read!
19. House of Shadows by Darcy Coates
A perfect blend of Gothic romance and a classic haunted house mystery, House of Shadows is genuinely terrifying and heart-pounding to the last chapter. Sophie thinks it can’t get any worse when she marries Joseph Argenton. She’s met him only twice before and there’s something very strange about him. Upon arriving at Northwood, the ancestral home of the Argenton’s, she learns that nothing is as it seems and her husband and his family are hiding a secret that could kill her. An atmospheric romance, ideally with dark subtones and a historical setting, it also has an equally compelling sequel ‘House of Secrets’.
20. Master of Salt & Bones by Keri Lake
One of the dark, twisted modern Gothic romance books, Master of Salt and Bones is riveting, suspenseful, alluring and magical. The story revolves around Isa, a girl living under the shadow of her mother’s sins, desperate to escape her reality and Lucien, a man richer than sin, the town’s outcast for reasons we begin to unravel. These characters are so complex and intriguing, tempting one another beyond reason. This psychologically thrilling gothic romance is devilishly deceiving and so action packed and mysterious with jaw dropping secrets. A perfectly dangerous and twisted combination of Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera!
21. The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller
A historical ghost story beautifully entwined with romance, The Widow of Rose House is a compelling and entertaining debut from Diana Biller. After the sudden death of her abusive husband, Alva Webster has returned to New York City searching for a fresh start and a way to restore her reputation. However, her new home is haunted, so she must accept the help of charming and eccentric Professor Samuel Moore. Reluctantly, Alva gets pulled into Sam’s sunshine, and together, they discover the secrets surrounding Alva’s new house. If you love historical romance with a touch of the supernatural, definitely pick this one up!
22. The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
A heartbreaking, stunning debut and winner of the Costa First Novel Award, The Confessions of Frannie Langston focuses on a formerly enslaved Jamaican woman who has an affair with her employer’s wife and stands on trial for the murder of them both. This book is a series of her confessions. As her history is told from her time on a plantation farm in Jamaica to her duty as a maid for Mrs. Benham in London, we uncover several truths of Frannie’s life. It’s such a shocking, saddening, gut wrenching Gothic romance novel. The complete lack of control slaves had over their lives, even when they were ‘freed’ is terrifying!
23. Hollow Heathens by Nicole Fiorina
Hauntingly beautiful and lyrical, Hollow Heathens is a marvelously ominous tale of two hearts that is steeped with lush Gothic elements. An eerie town with an intriguing and heartbreaking past, mysterious occurrences, and the unique dynamics of two witch covens dwelling together. The story is shared between two POVs—Fallon and Julian, and each voice has a different but equally compelling story to tell. The premises of this book thrives in the vivid imagery, engaging subplots and well-crafted side characters. Also, the author has neatly woven the story with callous curses, forbidden romances and buried secrets.
24. The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox
Suspenseful, eerie and atmospheric, The Widow of Pale Harbor is one of the best Gothic romance books you must read. After the death of his wife, Gabriel Stone moves to Pale Harbor, where there is a vacancy for a new minister. But the sleepy town has something mysterious. There have been strange, unsettling happenings and the people of Pale Harbor know that there is only one person who can be responsible: a strange widow who lives in the decaying castle on the edge of town. Events escalate and soon it seems that all the weird happenings contain elements from the stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
25. The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
Mysterious, heartwarming, and romantic, The Silent Governess explores the intriguing life of a 19th century governess. While fleeing her own secret, Olivia Keene stumbles upon an elegant English manor house where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as it appears. She overhears Lord Bradley’s terrible secret which, if exposed, will change his life forever. Now what is Lord Bradley to do with her since he can’t let her go? One of the best Gothic romance books, it is highly recommended to all those who love an intriguing, adventurous read with the perfect amount of secrets and romance!
26. A Long Fatal Love Chase by Louisa May Alcott
One of Louisa May Alcott’s lesser known books, A Long Fatal Love Chase tells an exciting story of dark love and passionate obsession. There is a young ingenue, ready to sell her soul for love; the jaded older man who is concealing a sinful past; secret children; secret wives; a short stint in a convent; cross-dressing; and adventures at sea. The story is melodramatic but intriguing, dramatizing the plight of women in oppressive times. Full of suspense and dramatic humor, this Gothic romance book would make a good reading experience on a stormy night with the wind howling outside.
27. A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe
One of Radcliffe’s early novels, A Sicilian Romance, pioneered her reputation in the genres of romance and the emerging Gothic fiction of the eighteenth century. The story focuses on a girl named Julia, who is in love with one man and forced to be wed to another. In this situation, she’s given three choices: follow her heart, follow the rules, or escape. These choices are all demonstrated by three older female characters who made each respective choice in turn and paid the price for it. Truly timeless and a must-read for fans of Gothic romance books.
28. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
An enduring masterpiece, Jane Eyre was written in 1897 but the influence of the book is still relevant over one hundred and fifty years later. It follows the miserable life of Jane, the little girl who loses her parents and lives with her cruel aunt, the grim conditions at Lowood school and her love for Rochester who seems to have a lot of complications. Brontë gives a generous amount of space for the reader to breathe the story in. At the core of the plot is unwavering truth. It encloses within itself a story of personal growth and development, a Gothic mystery, and above all, a wonderful love story.
29. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
The epitome of classic Gothic romance books, Wuthering Heights has proven to be one of the greatest and unforgettable works of English Literature. Set in the desolate, gothic landscape of the Yorkshire moors, the story revolves around Catherine and Heathcliff, two people so problematic yet, somehow so right for each other. So in love with each other yet enjoy making each other suffer. Their obsessive love overpowering even death. They symbolize the cruel side of love tainted by wickedness and selfishness. Their insane love ruins everything and everyone around them and their separation drives Cathy to death and Heathcliff to insanity.
30. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
A satire on Gothic fiction with its classy storytelling, Northanger Abbey is a marvel and the most delightful read. The story follows Catherine Morland, a 17-year-old with a fondness bordering on obsession for Gothic novels. Her obsession leads her to see the world filtered through the novels she reads, naturally leading to some rather unrealistic expectations. Despite her youthful naivety which pushes her to silliness at times, she is a likable character which the reader can’t help but become invested in. The story, although simple, is engaging and captivating. And the beauty of Jane Austen’s writing never disappoints, making you fall in love with the book.
31. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
An absolutely gripping and powerful novel, Rebecca is a must read if you like Gothic romance thrillers. The story revolves around an unnamed young woman who impetuously marries a mysterious wealthy widower, only to discover that every corner of the home is haunted by the memory of his first wife, Rebecca. She slowly becomes obsessively jealous of her and feels that she doesn’t measure up to her predecessor who seems to have been everything beautiful, popular and wonderful at running an estate like Manderley. However, as the story unfolds, we get the details of the past. The dark, sublime settings tinged with a modern feel and a hint of humor delivers a page turner.
32. Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer
From the Queen of Regency novels, Cousin Kate is one of the must-read classic Gothic romance books. Kate Malvern, an unemployed young and beautiful governess, is surprised to receive an invitation to live with a distant aunt whom she’s never met. Once there, it doesn’t take long for Kate to realize that something is not quite right at Staplewood. The amount of twists and turns in this Victorian Gothic style suspense keeps you guessing until the end, wondering who’s strangling rabbits in the forest, and why is Aunt Minerva so interested in her penniless niece?