When I first laid eyes on this collection I knew I had to read it. The cover is stunning and the idea of Gothic romance comics instantly caught my attention, being a fan of gothic literature in it’s various forms. It was a fast read and while I found a few spectacular comics in the collection I ended up feeling only lukewarm overall.
Gothic Tales of Haunted Love seeks to revitalize an aging genre of literature while paying homage to the short-lived gothic romance comics of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Despite a variety of tropes that have become standard in the genre I feel that there is a lot more nuance compared to regular paranormal romance and this is what I think left me feeling a little underwhelmed. There were certainly a few finely crafted horror stories, such as Secrets in Silk and The Return, but did they feel all that gothic to me? Not really, no.
“I kept returning to him, my love, year after year…”
One of the key elements in gothic fiction is the setting, something missing in many of the stories. Many of the authors picked up on common themes of love but most ended up falling under one of two categories: romance that turns into murder and romance with a ghost or other paranormal creature. The book further tried to update the genre by painting the stories with the diversity brush which, don’t get me wrong, I love diverse stories, but I feel like some key elements of the genre were sacrificed in an attempt to reinvent it.
Now there were some wonderful pieces that I felt did a lot of justice to the genre while seamlessly including a diverse cast of characters. The first story in the collection, Crush is easily one of the strongest entries that really captured the vintage gothic romance feel in both story and art style. The art was reminiscent of older comics, the setting and time period fits, the characters have motivations that are both understandable and questionable, and the story kept me enraptured from start to finish.
Fazenda do Sangue Azul was another notable story that stayed true to the gothic style but in a completely foreign setting with a touching queer romance, I was in awe of the beauty of the story and art. L’Heure Verte was short and sweet and brings the whimsical feelings from a classic paranormal romance but updates it for the modern era. One More Cup and Ouroboros were some of the more unique stories that I greatly enjoyed and are easily favorites.
Sadly with such a huge cast of contributors it was inevitable that the quality of the stories and art varied greatly and it really diminished my enjoyment of the collection as a whole. It was really disjointing to me hopping from a stellar comic to several that were mediocre. Despite that, there are definitely quite a few comics to admire here and are worth the read for lovers of gothic romance or paranormal romance in general.
- Have you ever read any gothic comics?
- Do you think that this collection stayed true to the gothic tradition?
- What are some hallmarks of gothic fiction that define the genre?
Book InformationGothic Tales of Haunted Love by Hope Nicholson, S.M. Beiko
Published by Bedside Press on April 24, 2018
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance
Format: ARC, eBook
Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is a new anthology of comics based on the 1970s gothic romance comic genre. Featuring stories of gruesome acts and undying love, this collection merges up and coming creators with established pros in a wonderful collection of the macabre.