An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James (And, While We’re At It, Let’s Discuss Gothic Literature)


“Well,” I thought to myself as I opened this novel, “I don’t usually read Gothic literature.”  But then I found myself enjoying the eerie escape on a cold, October night. I also found myself remembering Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, and Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, both of which I have read at least twice because they so captured my interest.

In fact, there is a rather long list of literature in this genre that I have read with great pleasure:

  • The Pit and The Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Bleak House and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

So what categorizes a novel as Gothic literature? The following elements precisely:

  • a virginal maiden
  • an older foolish woman
  • a hero
  • a tyrant or a villain
  • a stupid servant
  • clergy which is ineffective or evil
  • and the setting as a character itself, usually a building with secrets of its own

That said, I hardly expect Gothic literature written today to meet the glorious drama of classics in the past. But An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James has been a fun treat this Halloween season. If you are interested in a story which takes place in a haunted, English village, with a maiden who is trying to calm the ghost of Walking John while discovering the cause of her Uncle’s death, and an Inspector with whom she falls in love, this would be just the ticket.

You can also read about it here at A Work in Progress, and here at Indextrious Reader, two blogs I admire.