Three Gothic Novels for Summer Reading

Looking for your next haunting classic? These might be just the thing for summer break.

This school year, I read three books: first was Frankenstein, then was Slaughterhouse-Five, and finally Crime and Punishment. They’re all considered classics with Gothic and deranged writing styles, characters, and plots. 

To read them is to look at how the human mind unravels itself through different traumas. How it can fully envelop itself in insanity.

Frankenstein and Crime and Punishment were both written in the 1800s, making them more difficult reads, but it doesn’t take away from their poetic nature and the beauty of the writing. 

The demise of the main characters is so pretty it’s unsettling to wonder how the author could write such horrible actions in a detailed, accurate style 

At the same time, Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1969, is a satirical and gritty novel that seems so realistic to human nature that it’s unnerving.

All three are iconic pieces of Gothic, unsettling literature that I think every dark mind should read.



When the name is heard everyone knows it. Frankenstein is a staple in horror and literature classics. It is considered to be the world’s first science fiction novel. And there’s always that one person who makes sure you know Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster.

The first ever Science Fiction novel, written by a woman in 1816 (Flickr)

It’s known everywhere. It was made into the first ever horror movie, too. 

The novel is known everywhere because of its skillful writing style and its introspective look at psychology that shows the human capability of one’s own destruction.

What also makes Frankenstein so cool is its author. Mary Shelly, a woman, wrote this novel in 1816. To be a woman, a writer, and a writer talented enough to write the first sci-fi novel is a great accomplishment for a woman in that time period.

Frankenstein is addictive. I read this novel as an independent novel for English class, but it was hard to keep up my normal procrastinating habits with this book.

The basis is Dr. Frankenstein, a university student, crafts his monster in an attempt to recreate human life. However, after realizing how horrifying his creature is, he begins to unravel.

Throughout the novel, it is a constant war between Frankenstein, his monster, and his mind. 

While it may be a bit of a harder read, the story is captivating and the writing is breathtaking. To give it a rating, I’d give it a 9/10.

Here is a link to read it for free:

Slaughterhouse Five

The most modern of this trio. A famous anti-war book that shows a man’s mind crumbling after surviving a horrendous war.

A glorious anti-war book about a man and his mind post-WWII. (Flickr)

After surviving the bombing of Dresden, the main character Billy Pilgrim has to endure his own mind coping with the trauma with hallucinations and fantasies.

This novel is the one I enjoyed the most out of the three. 

It was something that kept me continuing to flip pages, written with an unimaginably creative plot and character design that I never expected.

As much as I would love to talk all about what happens in this novel, I don’t want to spoil anything.

Billy Pilgrim is in Dresden, Germany when is bombed. He is then forced to get out alive and stay alive while being tormented by the memory. It drives him insane, having him come up with hallucinations of being abducted by aliens and living with them for years.

He grapples with reality and what he has come up with in his mind, along with haunting flashbacks to his time at war.

Author Kurt Vonnegut writes with a satirical style and creativity centered around what war can do to the human psyche.

There was never a moment when I didn’t want to read this book. When I first chose to read it, I never thought I would love it as much as I did, even with the eerie title that drew me to it. Slaughterhouse-Five is a 10/10 for me.

Here is a link to read it for free:


Crime and Punishment

The main character of crime and punishment is Raskolnikov, a poor man in St. Petersburg who murders a wealthy woman for money. In czarist Russia, such poor men are common and Raskolnikov is acquainted with many, so his actions aren’t a surprise.

A mind-churning novel whose main character goes mad. (Charlotte Van Haren)

Before and after the murder, he is stuck with a mental torment. 

Before committing the crime, he fights himself over whether he’s sick enough to do such a thing. He thinks over his plan and eventually constructs one.

Afterward, he is paranoid. He is terrified of getting caught and regrets doing what he did. Whenever he speaks to anyone, he wonders if they know what he’s done.

Most of the novel isn’t murder or a manhunt, it’s Raskolnikov’s mental woes and the panicked notion that land him in trouble that only causes more psychological unrest.

It takes an already dark mind to commit murder and an even darker one to keep it a secret. As Raskolnikov is constantly reminded of his crime by everyone around him, he is stuck with the memory that he committed a crime.

And he can’t help but wonder what will be his punishment?

It’s a long book, it’s a tough read, but the moments inside of Raskolnikov’s mind are so rich and engaging that I couldn’t be deterred by the old-school style. For me, it’s an 8/10.

Here is a link to read it for free: