Matthew Tansek
Dec 5, 2018 · 4 min read
Photo by Lizelle De Wit on Unsplash
  • foreboding locations
  • Persecuted heroines
  • Juxtaposition of wealth and order next to barbarism and poverty
  • Obsession with mourning rituals, mementos, and the degradation of morality
  • Extreme curiosity of what lies beyond the veil. Often roped together with the growing spiritualist movement at the time.
  1. Dracula’s Guest — For those of you who don’t have time for Dracula (which is an awesome read and probably the first thing everyone thinks of when they think about Gothic fiction) we have this little short story. First written as part of Dracula, then cast off as its own short story, its a lot of fun and uses great language the way only Stoker can.
  2. Casting the Runes — MR James is the father of the modern ghost story. He has some great work in the realm of weird fiction, but if your looking for a more Gothic piece I remember really liking this one.
  3. Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar — Perhaps one of Poe’s most gory pieces (I think he must have written it with an anatomy book open next to him). An easier Poe work to get through (sometimes his language can be a bit thick) that like many of his shorts is benefited from the author’s obsession with death.
  4. The Striding Place — Gertrude Atherton (a female writer in a time dominated by men) I think captured the Gothic contemplation of the spirit/soul and the morbid thoughts of it lingering on after death. If you are looking to build a tabletop game around the ideas of death and the soul (classic tropes of the genera) then I think this would give you a good primer for what the zeitgeist was at the time.
  5. The Phantom ‘Rickshaw — A straightforward little tale about a man being driven mad by a ghost. I liked the language used by the narrator to reveal the increasing madness and desperation.
  1. The Vampyre — It might be sacrilege for me to say so, but I think that the Vampyre by Paolidori is really only interesting if you are want to read it for historical reasons. Or if you really want to see a Vampire Lord be a total dick. Not worth the time it would take you to get through.
  2. The Mystery of Edwin Drood — Dicken’s does not deliver. There is a bit of hype around this one since he died before it could be completed. Read only if you are interested in the author IMO.
Matthew Tansek

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Speculative fiction and horror writer, tabletop gamer, and librarian, in no particular order. My creative works can be found at

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