Category Archives: Gothic

Staff Pick: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Staff Pick: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

A witty and suspenseful tale of a brutal governess and the three brave young souls under her care–Bonnie, Sylvia, and Simon–who together must save the Willoughby estate from the destructive effects of her terrible reign.

When I picked up The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, I knew it had been around a long time, but I thought I would give an “oldie” a chance . . . 12 books later, I’m ready to recommend these titles by Joan Aiken to anyone who loves wicked mean bad guys, occasional witches, (both good and bad) solid and true underdogs, and tales of adventure with suspense and . . . well, yes, occasionally there are gruesome parts when the bad guys seem to be getting ahead.

Set in London in a period in the early 19th Century during the fictional reign of King James III before cars and airplanes, the characters travel by carriage, ship, and on foot to realistically imagined locations speaking in dialects that reflect social classes in England and surrounding countries. Dido, Simon, and the other characters in this series are often witty in the gritty and absurd situations that occur in their lives. Like The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, or Peter and the Starcatchers, these books will grab you and keep you up reading at night long after your bed time.

IndyPL has these titles in audio CD, eAudio, eBook, paper and hardcover book formats. On a side note, The Whispering Mountain is considered #0 in the series.

Recommended by: Raylene Jordan – The Learning Curve @Central Library

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Kid Review – A Series of Unfortunate Events

Kid Review – A Series of Unfortunate Events

The Bad Beginning


After the sudden death of their parents, the three Baudelaire children must depend on each other and their wits when it turns out that the distant relative who is appointed their guardian is determined to use any means necessary to get their fortune.

“If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick-witted, but their lives are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched and will most likely fill you with deep despair.” ~from the Author

this book is soooooooo good. its not happy books so if you dont like sad books i dont recommend these to you. but i enjoyed it because of all the supsense!” ~ Kid Review from Jacqui


Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events:

  1. The Bad Beginning
  2. The Reptile Room
  3. The Wide Window
  4. The Miserable Mill
  5. The Austere Academy
  6. The Ersatz Elevator
  7. The Vile Village
  8. The Hostile Hospital
  9. The Carnivorous Carnival
  10. The Slippery Slope
  11. The Grim Grotto
  12. The Penultimate Peril
  13. The End

If You Like a Series of Unfortunate Events:

When a story is gloomy and mysterious it is often called “gothic.” These stories often take place in castles or country estates and usually, children are left to cope with the darkness and mystery themselves. If you liked the gothic Series of Unfortunate Events, try these:
The Kneebone Boy The Mysterious Howling The Secret Garden The Willoughbys
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Splendors & Glooms

Splendors & Glooms

Clara is a lonely only child growing up in a grief-filled house. Her parents are overwhelmed with sadness after the deaths of all of  brothers and sisters. Not just one. ALL of them. Every holiday, every Sunday even, the family walks to the cemetery and remembers “the Others”. It’s very hard for Clara to have so many days of her life taken up with mourning. And it isn’t that she doesn’t miss her brothers and sisters. She does. But she is having trouble figuring out how to LIVE now that they are gone.

For her 12th birthday Clara begs to have a puppet show. She longs for something fun because there is just so much sadness in her house. She pleads. She cries. She gets her way! And when Grisini and his assistants, two orphans named Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, come to perform they are SO good the show seems like MAGIC! It’s like the marionettes have no strings. They move just like people!

When Clara disappears after the puppet show Grisini is suspect #1, but no one can find him. Lizzie Rose and Parsefal can’t even find him…but they do notice a new puppet, one that looks really, really familiar. Can you guess where this is going? Lizzie Rose and Parsefal are tough and street wise and know how to take care of business, even when the business gets a little creepy. And in this book, it sure DOES.

Lizzie Rose and Parsefal follow this mystery to a creepy old country house as well as the creepy old lady who lives there. Again, I mean CREEPY. They need to be brave and smart and resourceful. They also have to know how to be a good friend. Author: Laura Amy Schlitz

This is a great read for lovers of Coraline or The Graveyard Book. Spooky. Spooky wonderful! It has a creepy old mansion like The Secret Garden, and ghostly characters like The Aviary and The Shadows. If you like to read stories with just a little bit of shiver in them…try Splendors & Glooms or one of these:

Coraline The Graveyard Book The Secret Garden The Aviary
Books of Elsewhere The Shadows
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The Kneebone Boy

The Kneebone Boy

The Kneebone Boy

Otto, Lucia and Max are the Hardscrabbles. They’ll remind you of three kids you might already know…Violet, Klaus and Sunny Boudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events. The Hardscrabbles have had a rough life too – like the Boudelaire’s they have to take care of each other, because nobody else is really doing it for them.

The Hardscrabble’s mother has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Otto hasn’t spoken a word since and wears a scarf wrapped around his neck everyday, no matter the weather. Their father is around, but distant, travelling all over the world to paint portraits of royals.

Otto uses sign language only Lucia and Max can understand, which makes him even more unusual, and the object of suspician. People in thier village think maybe Otto knows more about his mother’s disappearance than he wants to say…so he just refuses to talk at all

Lucia, for her part, is a toughie, I mean, look at that picture on the cover. She’s ready to start a fight and take names later. She’s bored out of her mind by the dullness of her life and longs for some kind of adventure.

And Max, well, Max is a genius. A real one.

The three of them together make quite a team. When their father goes out of town and their babysitting arrangements fall through, the kids decide not to tell their dad, but to set out on an adventure of their own. They track down a long lost Aunt and  discover that she lives in a castle that harbors some interesting secrets, Hardscrabble secets, involving a local legend about the Kneebone Boy as well is the answer to their most pressing question, what happened to their mother?

When a story is gloomy and mysterious it is often called “gothic.” These stories often take place in castles or country estates and usually, children are left to cope with the darkness and mystery themselves. If you liked the gothic The Kneebone Boy, try these:
A Series of Unfortunate Events The Mysterious Howling The Secret Garden The Willoughbys
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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: the Mysterious Howling

The Mysterious Howling

Penelope Lumley, a student at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is on her way to a new life. Penelope is old enough to leave the Academy and make a life for herself. She has answered an ad for Governess:

Wanted Immediately: energetic Governess for Three Lively Children Knowledge of French, Latin, History, Etiquette, Drawing, and Music will be Required – Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred.

Once she arrives at the country estate she undergoes a very strange interview and hears some very strange noises that no one wants to explain. In fact, everyone wants to act as if the noises are not happening at all. Weirder still, no one will introduce her to the children.

Penelope is a girl that gets things done. She also knows a noise when she hears one. Not one to stand around when there is something curious to investigate, Penelope follows the strange noises to the barn. In the dim light of the barn she hears something rustling and sees shining eyes in one of the stalls. A small pony maybe? A lamb? A dog? Nope. The shining eyes belong to three children huddled in the dark staring at her with the eyes of wild animals.

Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred. You think! Some kids might act like little wild animals, but these children, well, they really are! Penelope sets out to teach them how to act like little ladies and gentlemen in time for a holiday ball. That means wearing clothes. That means walking upright. That means eating with utensils. That means NOT howling! It also means paying attention to Penelope’s lessons and not being distracted by squirrels. (These kids are a lot like Dug the talking dog in the movie Up “SQUIRREL!”)

A funny look at the trouble one girl takes on when she tries to teach some little wild things how to hobnob in high society. If you like A Series of Unfortunate Events give this one a try. The humor is very similar and the characters just as outrageous. Ahwoooooooooooo! Author: Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place:

#1: The Mysterious Howling on CD, eBookeAudio
#2: The Hidden Gallery on CDeBookeAudio

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