PHANTOM TALES: 5 Novels on Death

With the extensive amount of literature on the subject of death, I decided to narrow it down to ghosts. 

1. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte 

A novel that could only have been spawned from a female mindscape. One that resides in a space of between: nightmare/daytime, Gothic supernaturalism/Victorian pragmatism, desire/restraint.  A novel of children’s desires that fatefully mimic the laws of an adult world, yet bend them through mortality.That excess of desire that haunts the moors, that protruding crag, that tapping on the glass, ‘let me in,’ it is all frightfully erotic. Read this novel and let these ghosts in.

2. Winterwood – Patrick McCabe

This is one twisted tale. Redmund Hatch is haunted by phantoms of past: homesickness, trauma, abuse and mythicism, an underbelly to the Irish beast – The Celtic Tiger. Will he find protection in the magical kingdom of Winterwood?

3. The Turn of the Screw Henry James

A woman is appointed governess to two children in an isolated country house and begins to see ghosts. Are these ghosts real or is she insane? Simple, I think not. Woman plus habitation equals the uncanny gothic, an enclosed space for slippage, displacement and collapse. Note: truth is subjective and answers are voids.

4. Rebecca – Daphne De Muir

An unnamed young woman marries the Byronic Maxim de Winter and moves into Manderley – a house tainted by his deceased wife, Rebecca. Another great habitation plus woman novel. This time the ghosts are ‘that which cannot be named’ – a lesbianism. You too will be dreaming you returned to Manderley, after reading this gothic gem.

5. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allen Poe


Incest, a crumbling castle, an entombed alive, a wailing – intrigued? This is quintessential Poe, exploring the underbelly of humanity – the fears, the guilts and morbidity in haunting imagery.

Other great novels about death and fatalism: 

  • Dead Souls – Nikolay Gogal
  • Tess of the D’Ubervilles – Thomas Hardy
  • Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
  • La Bete Humaine – Emile Zola
  • Dracula – Bram Stoker
  • To The Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
  • They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
  • Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • The Blind Assassin – Margaret Atwood
  • The Birds – Daphne De Muir
  • The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Black Dahlia – James Ellroy
  • The House of the Spirits – Isabel Allende
  • The Postman Always Rings Twice – James M. Cain
  • The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler.

Yours Invisibly,
Anyones Ghost

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