Gothic Love

14 July, 2020 by katelaity

Gothic Abbey for Kit via BL

What does Gothic mean to you? Enclosed spaces, family secrets, medieval ruins, forbidden love? The literature called Gothic was in part inspired by the architecture called Gothic — or at least what was left of it.

The first Gothic novel is generally thought to be Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto and if you’ve not read it, it does tip a bit into the ridiculous — starting with a character who’s crushed by an enormous helmet falling from the sky. And by the later hey day, all bets are off with Matthew Lewis’ The Monk. Magic, disguises and a lot of wild shenanigans.

My model for The Mangrove Legacy however, was far less scandalous — at least to modern tastes! Ann Radcliffe was the queen of the genre. Readers waited breathlessly for the next instalment of her vivid imagination — including an impressionable young writer named Jane Austen. Of course she eventually lampooned the sometimes ridiculous stories that less skilled writers employed in Northanger Abbey, which features my favourite Austen hero, Henry Tilney: ‘He is sarcastic, intuitive, fairly handsome, and clever in nature. He differs from Catherine in being attuned to the behavior and underlying intentions of others and finds amusement in the folly of those around him.’

There’s a delicious tension between the romantic excesses of Gothic and the spooky fun: ghosts, secrets, pirates, disguises, highwaymen, funerals and of course romance. They had a big revival in the 70s as the romance genre really began to market sub-genres. The iconic art of women running away from danger boosted the careers of artists like Marchetti.

For the new Fox Spirit release of The Mangrove Legacy, fabulous cover artist S. L. Johnson is channeling those influences to come up with something amazing. I got a peek at the work in progress and it made me swoon like a Gothic heroine. Can’t wait to share more!

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