The classics are a given, but I would be remiss not to mention them since they are some of my favorites, and forever will be.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. If there were no other monster tales but this, the world would still be a good place to live. Shelley captures the bond between creator and creation in such a way that the reader isn’t sure to root for human or monster. Perfection. “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” -Frankenstein
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Rice’s vampires are intriguing because she gives us the classic vampiric elements while still adding her own creative twists without losing the reader along the way. Rice creates vampires with the perfect balance of sensual bloodlust and interesting back stories. “Evil is a point of view. We are immortal. And what we have before us are the rich feasts that conscience cannot appreciate and mortal men cannot know without regret. God kills, and so shall we.” -Interview with the Vampire
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Jackson brilliantly writes a Gothic ghost tale of a haunted house that becomes more of a main character than the other actual characters. And she has one of the greatest opening lines I have ever read. “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.” -The Haunting of Hill House
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë because you’ll take my Gothic fiction away from me when I am dead and burned to 1,000 ashy pieces. “Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest as long as I am living. You said I killed you–haunt me then. The murdered do haunt their murderers. I believe–I know that ghosts have wandered the earth. Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad. Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! It is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” -Wuthering Heights
And for some more contemporary reads. Have you checked out Stephanie M. Wytovich’s poetry collections Hysteria and Mourning Jewelry yet? (okay technically this is two recommendations, but they are both so damn good I can’t just pick one.) Wytovich’s voice offers a beautiful madness with the craft of her words as she creates a story within every poem she gifts to her readers. Some of my favorites from her collections include: Blood Whiskey, Black Bird, The Color White, Orchids Take the Children, Dare I Keep the Body, and Urns Make Me Drunk.
Another poetry collection I fell in love with recently is Sierra DeMulder’s The Bones Below. The concepts deal with the more quiet horrors of simply existing and going through life’s hoops. DeMulder brilliantly captures the brutal, dirty details of the human experience. My favorites from the collection include: When the Apocalypse Comes, Paper Dolls, Mrs. Dahmer, Sawdust, and Talking to God.
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente consumed my soul. Holy Hades, this woman can write. If you’re a fan of beautiful prose that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go until you sink wholly into the world from where it came, then read Catherynne Valente. Read. Consume. Become. “Be selfish and cruel and think nothing of them. I am selfish. I am cruel. My mate cannot be less than I. I will have you in my hoard, Marya Morevna, my black mirror.” -Deathless
Okay, and another multi-rec because if you haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects, then put that at the top of your to-read list. Her female protagonists are dirty, gritty, cunning, and fucking awesome because they are realistic. And these people saying Flynn’s characters are “too unlikable” to read must be the most well-behaved, cautious, and boring people imaginable. “I am a cutter, you see. Also a snipper, a slicer, a carver, a jabber. I am a very special case. I have a purpose. My skin, you see, screams. It’s covered with words – cook, cupcake, kitty, curls – as if a knife-wielding first-grader learned to write on my flesh.” -Sharp Objects
And if you need some music to rock out to while celebrating this wonderful occasion, try listening to Mz. Hyde herself Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, or that Natural Born Sinner Maria Brink. These ladies make bad look so good.
It’s Women in Horror Month. Sin a little with us. Drink some wine. Read something scary. Write something scarier.
In the meantime I’ll be working on a Valentine poem or two for you all to read later this month. *cackles*