Gothic!: Ten Original Dark Tales
What exactly is the difference between a gothic tale and a horror story? In Deborah Noyes's introduction to GOTHIC!: Ten Original Dark Tales, she explains: "It's probably more accurate to think of gothic as a room within the larger house of horror. Its decor is distinctive. It insists on burden of the past. It also gleefully turns our ideas of good and evil on end."
GOTHIC! contains more than a collection of the classic gothic tale, however. Although some stories maintain the classic gothic story, we also find more contemporary tales that are both dark and sometimes even humorous. The cast of authors includes: Joan Aiken, Vivian Vande Velde, M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Barry Yourgrau, Janni Lee Simmer, Gregory Maguire, Celia Rees, and Garth Nix.
There are several stories that stand out in this dark collection. Among them are Neil Gaiman's "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Nameless House of the Night of Dread Desire." Gaiman is well known for his eerie graphic novels, and most recently the children's book CORALINE. As a fan of the gothic structure, Gaiman tips his hat to the traditional tale and leaves the reader questioning.
Also of note is Barry Yourgrau's "Have No Fear, Crumpot is Here!" which masterfully mixes humor and horror. The main character of the tale is a troublesome teen named Walter, who is to spend one week during the summer with his parents' friends. His parents, who are away on a business conference, want Walter to learn to "demonstrate responsibility." Walter is in an angsty world of his own where he has invented a ruthless alter ego named Crumpot. But not even Crumpot is prepared for what is in store!
Gregory Maguire's "The Prank" is another story that stands out from the pack. Maguire is widely known for his new renderings of the traditional fairy tales as he shows in his popular books WICKED and MIRROR MIRROR. Similar to Yourgrau's Walter character, Maguire introduces us to an equally angsty teen, Melanie, who has been sent away to live with her great aunt. Melanie has been in trouble at home and her smart alecky attitude is not getting her far with her great aunt. But even Melanie is shocked when she finds out the secret that is hiding in the attic...
GOTHIC!: Ten Original Dark Tales is a frightfully fun read for fans of horror movies and horror tales.
Reviewed by Kristi Olson on October 18, 2011