Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Gothy reading material for young darklings

One of the things that I have to thank Twilightmania for, as a commentor pointed out to me on a long-ago post, is that Goth and vampire-inspired products are now more readily available and accessible for those of us who are unemployed, cannot order online and/or are on a very tight budget. I was reminded of this yesterday when I was in the bookstore, as I stumbled across the kids' section - which was absolutely full-to-the-brim with Gothy goodies, perfect for young babybats seeking to bury their noses in dark culture. When I was 12, the average Goth reference I was likely to discover in a bookstore was that snide comment about 'death cult zombie chicks' in the Mates, Dates series.

As a death cult zombie chick (and proud) who loves to read, it is my pleasure to share with you the gems I have unearthed in the '9-12 years fiction' section of the bookstore, and beyond...

Firstly, if I may, I'd like to point my babybat readers in the direction of the books I enjoyed when I was but a wee, Halloween-obsessed teeny-bopper, some of which I have a feeling some of my older readers will also have devoured:

The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis. In fact, anything by Robin Jarvis that you can get your fishnet-gloved mitts on is probably a safe bet. (My other favourites being The Wyrd Sisters and Thorn Ogres of Hagwood.) Robin Jarvis is the undisputed king of things that go bump in the night, although babybats of a nervous disposition (yup, like me) would do well not to read these before bedtime.

Castle Twilight and Other Stories by Colin Thompson and Korky Paul. I used to re-read this over and over - it's a collection of twelve ghastly stories about the occupants of Castle Twilight, including the beautiful, intelligent, slightly odd and largely ignored Princess Chocolate, Creepeasy the butler, and Headache the dog.

Holy Moley, I'm a Dead Dude by C.M Hopkins (yup, the same Cathy Hopkins of Mates, Dates...) is a strange but funny story about teen rock star Dude, tragically dead after a crowd-surfing accident. Dude and his gang of ghosts (including Goth girl Bella) still have a few lessons to learn about life - despite being dead. Body-swapping, ghostbusters and general mayhem ensue.

The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. I absolutely love these books - darkly comic young adult fantasy at its very best. Fantastic illustrations, too. Cannot recommend these highly enough.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. These books are considered an ageless classic for a reason (although, pet peeve - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is NOT the first book in the series, it is the SECOND. The Magician's Nephew is the first book) - they have enough dreamlike fantasy to appeal to faerie-lovers and those who love folklore and myths; with enough dark moments to keep even the spookiest of Gothlings enthralled. My favourites are The Lion..., and The Silver Chair.

Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. Like Robin Jarvis, Darren Shan is a monster master, and it's hard to choose between his Vampire's Assistant series (don't be put off if you didn't like the movie, the books are better) and the Demonata. Actually, I think the Demonata series edges it for me, but Cirque Du Freak has vampires... take your pick.

Night World by L.J. Smith. I started buying the Night World books in early secondary school... my friends and I were all really into these vampire romances and are STILL waiting to get our hands on the last book in the series.

Wicca or Sweep by Cate Tiernan (same series, different names). A fascinating series about witchcraft, magick, romance, betrayal - and a token Goth girl named Raven. Of course.

Death: At Death's Door by Jill Thompson is a manga spin-off from Neil Gaiman's classic Sandman series of graphic novels, (eternal favourites in the Goth scene) aimed specifically at younger readers. Gorgeous artwork, and an unusually light-hearted introduction to Neil Gaiman's very dark world.

I also used to enjoy the Goosebumps, Shivers and Point Horror collections - even if they did give me nightmares (yes, I was a big wuss. Still am, actually).

Nowadays, my favourite young adult books include:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schrieber
Kimmie66 by Aaron Alexovich
Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger
Clubbing by Andi Watson and Josh Howard
Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly

I am a great fan of books which feature a 'token Goth' character, which nowadays is about 98% of what's lurking on the Young Adult shelves. However, token Goths can be divided into three categories - the good, the bad, and the seriously 2D... probably my favourite token Goth that I have recently come across is Sylv in An Urgent Message of Wowness by Karen McCrombie, who is a very sweet, smart, and exceptionally believeable perkygoth. I loved reading about her, and I'm supposed to be an adult...

Changeling by Steve Feasey features a very average Goth girl whose name I have forgotten, but is still worth a read if you're into werewolves, vampires, djinns or sorcery.

The Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga is an infinitely popular comic, but I am highly dubious about it due to the suicidal tendencies of its main Goth character, Kyra. Can we move on from these stereotypes, please, people?

For dark fantasy lovers and those who like their fairy tales served with a side of spooky, I recommend:
Heretic by Sarah Singleton
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black
Poison by Chris Wooding
Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge
Wondrous Strange by Leslie Livingston

I have not read any of the following, but I am sure that many of them will appeal to a young Goth audience:
My Sister The Vampire by Sienna Mercer
Eyetooth by Frank Rodgers
Blood Sinister by Celia Rees
Gothic Goddess by Carrie Bright
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
Nightmare Academy by Dean Lorey
The Bone Magician by F.E. Higgins
Crow Girl by Kate Cann
Shadowmancer by G.P. Taylor
The Thornethwaite Inheritance by Gareth P. Jones
Mortlock by John Mayhew
Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley
Monster High by Lisi Harrison
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade
Diary of a Wimpy Vampire by Tim Collins
The Raven Mysteries by Marcus Sedgwick


Ellone said...

I remember reading Goosebumps when I was little!! This list is amazing, I'll check some of these out for sure!

Stephanie said...

When I was younger and just starting to really bloom into Goth culture, "Death" was like fresh water to me, haha! I'm glad that your posted this list. I'm supposed to be an adult, but I bet you I'll go back and read them! ^_^

Serifina said...

Half of these, I've not read. but I need to. I absolutely love Cirque du freak and Vampire Kisses. I'm about to read Uncle Montague and Mortlock, and the Raven Mysteries, seeing as Sedgewick is coming to my school in April!

I've been looking everywhere for Death:At Death's door. My library is refusing to get it, and I've not got a card to order online. I'll get hold of it somehow though...

Continuing with the Gaiman theme-I do disagree with you about the Graveyard book though: I found it vaguely boring and plotless(like the rest of my book club). We cant actually believe that it won the Carnegie Award-even though we attended the awards ceremony. Neil is a nice guy to meet with though....

Need to read some of these books...

Anonymous said...

You're making it very hard for me to decide where to put my money--clothes, music, books... I want it all right now!

Emily Lynn G. said...

yay, goth-inspired tween literature for babybats <3 this post is very much up my alley. I loved the Graveyard book, as well as Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman is probably king of this tween noir genre right now. He has a lot of fans and respectively so, the Graveyard was more of a story that was thought provoking and had a lot of imagery, so less action, which suites my tastes just fine. Also, The Chronicles of Narnia is a GREAT series, it's one of the biggest pet peeves of mine that most school's skip the first two books, you miss a lot of the symbolism conveyed in The Lion,The Witch, and The Wardrobe. And I'd have to disagree, my favorite was the lesser appreciated Horse and His Boy<3 Great list of classics and some new books I've wanted to try out myself (Ghostgirl is supposed to be phenomenal.)

Bixie said...

Hi! This is my first comment on the site!
Anyway, back to what I was saying...I wish I had more time to read, but with homework and all I never seem to get to. I haven't read most of the books on the list, but the ones I have I've enjoyed. (I'm planning on complaining about my lack of time more, but I will spare you all from having to read it.)

Jon M said...

Yay! Thanks for the mention! Mortlock is out in peprback now... Marcus Sedgewick's stuff is awesome too: White Crow is truly modern and gothic!

ultimategothguide said...

@ Jon M - you're very welcome ^^ thank you for making my day! (I actually did a little fangirly dance of glee...)

Anonymous said...

I was into Goosebumps as a kid too. There is a Fallen series by Lauren Kate that has a gothic theme. Fallen angels have sparked my interest better than Twilight.

Under_The_Stairs said...

Death;At deaths door was awesome(I read the whole sandman series when I was 11)

Anonymous said...

What about Deady books by Voltaire?

Anonymous said...

Awwwwwwwwwww!!! I know lots of these(books are my obsession!) however, I do suspect that the only ones I've read from here that you may care about are those from the bottom list of books which you haven't read sooooo here are a few from there that I have:
Blood Sinister: Gawww! This (soft-spot alert!) was the first vampire book I ever read, it's very interesting, has a little mystery to it and is something I've re-read many times; it also got me hooked on vampire books. I suspect some may find it slightly boring due to some of the concepts explored however I think this makes it better!
Nightmare Academy (I'm assuming that I am thinking of the correct series when I say the first book is Charlie's Monsters? I can't quite remember the author....): Is absolute brilliance! I love-love-lovied these books (and still love them). They are very different from the standard 'dark themed' books, in this way kind-of reminding me of Scott Westerfield whose books all seem to be addictive and new! I would without a doubt recommend these though for some they may be a bit childish!
Skullduggery Pleasant: Another brilliant book, not as good,in my opinion, as Nightmare Academy however (and it hurts to say this) it's probably better than Blood Sinister. Once again it may be a bit youthful for some readers but I still love it!
Also yes; I do know I'm a year latereading this post and you've probably read these already now; sorry!

Anonymous said...

I love a whole bunch of these books, but I'm still a babybat.

My favorites are Monster High and My sister the vampire! I absolutely ADORE them!

BabieDollie said...

I hated Ghost Girl and Monster High :/ they seemed to silly for me. My friend is absolutely obsessed with Night World though and The Graveyard Book was amazing :)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Skullduggery Pleasant!!!! It's so silly. What's not to like? It has a skeleton who wears designer suits and drives a Bently, a badass 72 year old (she looks 19) who rides a motorbike and has a sword, a dead uncle (he's not really much of a character, but whatever), An extremely forgetful father, a shockingly beautiful lady who uses her powers of shockingly beautifulness to make people give her books and stuff, and, of course, the young girl who inherits the big spooky house, becomes a skeleton's assistant, and kills vampires. Lots of vampires.

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