Gothic! Reviews

From the February 2005 Reading Time

NOYES, Deborah (ed) Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales Candlewick Press, 2004 241pp$24.95 ISBN 0763622435 SCIS 1192077

The introduction to this book talks about how we all like to experience a little fear – provided we know it is safe to do so! This book plays on that notion, with stories of ghosts, of murders, of possession of supernatural warnings. The introduction defines the gothic genre for young readers who may not be familiar with it. The setting is often important in the gothic story, with haunted houses, unjustly imprisoned heroines, a hero who might be a villain (or vice versa), ghostly woods and graveyards abounding. Several of the stories in this collection play with all those ideas. Some, like Neil Gaiman’s offering “Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire” is a good natured spoof of the genre – from the title onwards! Some of the stories have humour, some horror. They are not all strictly gothic, but it’s a good ‘catch-all’ title. As is often the case with anthologies, the stories are not all of the same standard. Joan Aiken’s “Lungewater” sets a wonderful standardand Barry Yourgrau has some lovely touches of humour in his story. “Have no fear, Crumpot is here!”. This is an unusual collection; I don’ tknow of another gothic collection aimed particularly at young adult readers. Recommended.

***

From the Nov/Dec 2004 Horn Book:

Gothic!: Ten Original Dark Tales, Deborah Noyes, editor. 241 pp. Candlewick 9/04 ISBN 0-7636-2243-5 $15.99 (High School)

These ten terrific tales are guaranteed to raise the hairs on your neck and just possibly a scream in your throat. The well-balanced collection ranges in tone from dark humor to eerie mystery to true terror. Neil Gaiman threads every stock motif of the genre through his campy sendup, while Garth Nix gives dignity in death to an ancient vampire.

Atmosphere is everything, and the best of these writers awaken our fears simply by setting the scene. Joan Aiken’s classic tale of twisted love takes us to a narrow path high above a raging river; M. T. Anderson returns to the dangerous world of Thirsty, where familiar places are infested with witches and demons; and Vivian Vande Velde’s haunted Halloween hayride on a stormy night is enough to raise a serial killer from the dead. Gothic, by definition, insists on the burden of the past, writes Noyes in her introduction, and many protagonists here must pay for their own crimes or even the crimes of others with often-tragic results. Intrepid readers will relish the delicious shivers but may want to keep the lights on.
–Lauren Adams

***

From the October 15th Booklist:

Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales. Ed. by Deborah Noyes. 2004. 256p. Candlewick, $15.99 (0-7636-2243-5).

Gr. 7-10. The slightly generic cover design and forthrightly generic title of this collection may lead many readers to expect shrieking heroines, dreary castles, lurking vampires, and other tropes of the gothic tradition. They wouldn’t be wrong, but they wouldn’t be exactly right, either. Sure, many of these original tales, by the likes of Joan Aiken, Neil Gaiman, Gregory Maguire, and Vivian Vande Velde, ape the vocabulary of the genre(“necromancer,” “escritoire”) and play with its abundant clichés (a house has as many “curses as it has spiders and silverfish”). But the maidens in peril still have to do their homework; twisted events are as likely to transpire in American suburbs as in dreary castles (in M. T. Anderson’s exceptional “The Dead Watch,” shapeshifting witches eat Triscuits and use ATMs); vampires whine about the garlic in the spaghetti sauce and then attack their babysitters. Ideal for high-school literature classes studying Shelley or Stoker (Gaiman’s smirking contribution, which toys with genre definitions, would work particularly well in the classroom), this collection also provides an excellent opportunity to introduce fans of Koontz, Rice, and King to some of the most imaginative exponents of YA dark fantasy.
–Jennifer Mattson