Five obscure Victorian or Gothic novels that no one ever talks about and you think need to be better known?
I need to delve a lot more into the early Anne Radcliffe era of gothic novels. If any of my followers can rec stuff from that period (@atundratoadstool , @chthonic-cassandra , anyone?) then I will take them as recommendations as well! Heck, recommend gothics from any historical period that I’ve overlooked and I’ll try to read them!
In no particular order…
The Beetle. There’s a whole host of messy sexual and racial issues to unpack here, but it’s Dracula with bugs and one of the heroes is basically Doctor Doom and it’s just about peak gothic weirdness.
A Long Fatal Love Chase. This one starts as a pulpy melodrama, then abruptly pulls the rug from under you and is a serious, terrifying portrayal of an abusive relationship where the villain and the heroine do love each other but it just doesn’t matter because he’s still tormenting her. And nobody will get out of it alive.
Speaking of which, Louisa May Alcott’s short gothic stories in general are worth seeking out, especially Perilous Play, which was the inspiration for own story Affable Stoner Jonathan Harker. There are a couple of collections out there, only one of which I’ve gotten ahold of, but I’m still trying!
Israel Rank: The Autobiography of a Criminal was the basis for two popular adaptations (Kind Hearts and Coronets and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder) but is itself fairly obscure. It’s a lot darker and nastier than the derivative works, but if I had my way the titular antihero would stand beside Dorian Grey and Lord Ruthven as one of the sickest, most compelling awful men in gothic fiction. (Yes, I named my Fallen London character after him. She’s going to be his great aunt.)
I’m not sure it really counts as obscure, but I’m going to include La Morte Amoureuse anyway. It’s a sad, sexy vampire story from before sad, sexy vampires were the common denominator, and it’s a shame there haven’t been any adaptations (to my knowledge.)