When it comes to goth representations in literature, there are a few characters that are absolute icons. Dracula, the vampire Lestat, and pretty much any character from an Edgar Allen Poe story are all on the list of indispensable goth characters that should have a place on your bookshelf. But once you've read those and you're looking for more, where can you find another intriguing goth character to fill the void?
Whether you're looking for a Victorian classic or something much more modern, there are a ton of books out there with terrific goth characters. If you've read your fill of Anne Rice and H.P. Lovecraft, consider branching out into new territory for more literary soulmates.
Cian McKenna, The Circle Trilogy - Nora Roberts
Most people think romance novels are essentially smutty nonsense, an attempt to make porn seem classy by forcing you to come up with the visuals in your imagination. Despite their tawdry reputation, there are some romance novels that go beyond mere titillation, and Nora Roberts is one of the best at building excellent, likable characters in her stories. The Circle Trilogy is a set of three books - Morrigan's Cross, Dance of the Gods, and The Valley of Silence - that happen to have a truly excellent goth as one of the main characters.
Born almost a thousand years ago, Cian (pronounced KEY-an) is a vampire who helps a group of humans, sorcerers, and shapeshifters fight against an evil vampire queen who wants to destroy humanity. Dark, brooding, and intelligent, Cian embodies almost everything about goth subculture without becoming an annoying stereotype. Yes, he wears black and has a serious nature, but he still laughs, loves, and makes mistakes just like everyone else. If you enjoy epic stories about time travel, sorcery, and good vs. evil, you won't want to miss out on this one just because it is found in the romance section of the bookstore.
Dr. Henry Jekyll, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic example of gothic literature and Dr. Henry Jekyll is a classic goth archetype. A smart, quiet guy who is obsessed with horror and monsters (both within himself and in the world around him) is obviously a goth!
Even though Robert Louis Stevenson is more well known for the pirates of Treasure Island, his Victorian story about the internal struggle between the good and evil that exists in all of us is incredibly popular. The phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" has even become a modern colloquialism for describing someone who has extreme mood swings. Because the story is so popular it has been made into a number of movies, plays, and TV shows, which means that most people are only familiar with it from seeing it on a stage or screen. Now is an excellent time to pick up the book and read the work that inspired one of your favorite plays and movies.
Marian Halcombe, The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White is one of the first mystery novels ever written, and ever since then writers have been trying and failing to come up with characters as fantastic as the ones created by Wilkie Collins. Count Fosco is easily one of the best villains in literature, and Marian Halcombe has been called one of the finest creations in all of Victorian fiction. This is a book that should be on every goth's required reading list, and Marian Halcombe will quickly become your favorite goth character.
An intelligent nonconformist, Marian confronts the monsters within the heart of man in her fight to save her sister from the scheming Count Fosco. She tends towards dark colors and a contemplative nature, making her the epitome of the modern goth. Marian is one of the most fascinating characters ever written about in a novel, so you will definitely want to add The Woman in White to your reading list this year.
Merricat Blackwood, We Have Always Lived at the Castle - Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson is one of the most influential horror writers in American history. Her novel We Have Always Lived at the Castle was the last piece she wrote before her death and is considered by many to be her greatest work. A story about murder, family, and the pain of social ostracization, the story was written to express how Shirley Jackson felt when she was living in a small town in Vermont with her husband.
The main character of her story, Merricat Blackwood, is an outcast due to the belief of the townspeople that her sister murdered the rest of her family when Merricat was just a child. Never feeling like she belongs in the society around her, Merricat (which is short for Mary Katherine) embodies the concept of harassment of people who are different, which is a feeling that pretty much every goth can understand. Nobody writes dark, brooding, goth characters with as much depth or understanding as Shirley Jackson.
Is there a book or goth character that you think we should add to the list? Comment below!