Title: Gothic Tales of Haunted Love
Authors: Hope Nicholson, S.M. Beiko
Writers: Cecil Castellucci, Kitty Curran, SDavid Alexander Robertson, Cherelle Higgins, Dante L, Svetla Nikolova, Allison Paige, H. Pueyo, Femi Sobowale, Chris Stone, Katie West, Jacque Nodell
Illustrators: Larissa Zageris, Ray Fawkes, Ronn Sutton, Hien Pham, Amber Noelle, Sanho Kim, Nika, Scott B Henderson, Megan Kearney, Dani Bee, lab, Willow Dawson, Caroline Dougherty, Barbara Guttman, Rina Rozsas, Sarah W. Searle, Scott Chantler, Colleen Coover, Becka Kinzie, Maia Kobabe, Zakk Saam
Publisher: Bedside Press
Publication Date: February 22, 2018
Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is a new comics anthology curated by Hope Nicholson (The Secret Loves of Geek Girls) and S.M. Beiko (Scion of the Fox).
In 1950s Vietnam, a lost soul comes to the aid of his lover’s field under attack by American troops.
In Victorian Boston, a new governess comes to care for the rogueish widower of a stately manor and his charming brood of children.
A fashion journalist lands the interview of her dreams – but it unearths the deadly secrets of Taiwan’s most popular fashion designer.
A Sioux elder revives a recently deceased woman who sets out to recover her lost love.
A Jamaican slave faces the horrors of her hateful mistress, on the eve of her liberation.
A Brazilian writer-in-exile discovers the dark history of an abandoned mansion inhabited by a charming and sensual ghost.
And a young bride spins a story of murder and deceit that paints her husband as a killer . . . but is there any truth to her tale?
Featuring 19 original stories from some of modern comics’ finest talent, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love collects fragments of lovers torn apart, romantic liasons with the unliving, ghostly revenge, and horrific deeds, in the vein of the short-lived 1970s gothic romance comics.
A foreword on gothic romance comics is provided by historian Jacque Nodell, and the collection also features a reprint of the 1970s Korean horror-romance comic “The Promise” by Sanho Kim.
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.
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 could be really be disjointing to me hopping from a stellar comic to several that were either mediocre or I didn’t enjoy at all. 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.
Strengths: Great art and a few standout comics
Weaknesses: Many comics missed the mark and varied in quality
Warnings: Violence, death
Where to Buy
A big thank you to NetGalley and Bedside Press for the review copy!