What ever happened to Gothic Romances?

Victoria Silverwolf

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Way back in the 1960's and 1970's there were a bunch of paperback Romance novels of the Gothic subcategory. These descendents of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights (just as the still popular Regency Romances are the descendents of Jane Austen) were so popular that their covers became stereotyped. A young woman running away from a spooky mansion, which usually had one window lit.





A lot more here:

Loads Of Women Running From Houses: The Gothic Romance Paperback |

There was even a comic book version for a few years in the 1970's:



My question:

What happened to this very popular subgenre? Did modern horror/vampire romances/urban fantasy take its place?
 

dask

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Wonder if they're even half as good as they look. Surprising the New York Times even reviewed them back then. I'd give the bottom right one a try based on the cover blurb alone.
 

J Riff

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One window lit, interesting. Why? Who is in there? Has the woman come from that room, or is someone in there who she is running from? What if two windows are lit, what is the difference? There are covers where the mansion has no lit windows - but then there is often a dark figure wearing a cape standing near the house.
romance-novels-romance-art.jpg

Huh?
 

Toby Frost

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Those are probably exactly the questions that the book wants you to ask! Were the books overly supernatural? Some of the titles seem to suggest it.

For a while the covers of urban fantasy covers were very similar, although not quite as much as those ones. They seemed to feature a back view of the heroine, in a city, holding a sword. She tended to have an elaborate tattoo. I wonder if the plots of these running-away books were as similar as the covers. Some of them look rather glamorous in a Hammer Horror sort of way.

I remember reading a romance/fantasy novel called Thornyhold by Mary Stewart a long time ago (published in the 80s, I think), which I think could have had a similar cover had the trend continued till then. I'm surprised that the article doesn't mention Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, which involves romance, a large house and a mysterious man, and even has a subplot about a big dress.
 

Wruter

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I'm struggling to come up with anything coherent to say, Victoria. Those covers, and the books therein, are wonderful to me, formula or no.

I suppose you must be right about them being supplanted by those other genres. Weren't sailor stories also once a big genre in their own right which is now all but extinct?
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Wonder if they're even half as good as they look. Surprising the New York Times even reviewed them back then. I'd give the bottom right one a try based on the cover blurb alone.
I suspect the ones that got a review of any sort were novels that were reprinted to look like Gothic Romances. An example:



I've read this one. It's actually a modern psychological suspense novel. (No spooky old castle, and the only blonde woman in it is the villain.)

And dig these covers:





That's actually Bram Stoker's 1911 horror novel The Lair of the White Woman with a new, Gothic Romance title.

Those are probably exactly the questions that the book wants you to ask! Were the books overly supernatural? Some of the titles seem to suggest it.
Some were supernatural, some were "somebody is trying to kill me/drive me insane and I think it's my husband" type of plots.

I'm struggling to come up with anything coherent to say, Victoria. Those covers, and the books therein, are wonderful to me, formula or no.

I suppose you must be right about them being supplanted by those other genres. Weren't sailor stories also once a big genre in their own right which is now all but extinct?
I suppose things come and go. You don't see Career Romances anymore (such as the sub-sub-genre of Nurse Romances.)
 

Wruter

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I suppose things come and go. You don't see Career Romances anymore (such as the sub-sub-genre of Nurse Romances.)
Could it be said that when we talk about Gothic romances as in the examples shown, we mean 'romance' in the older sense of the word (basically, 'fantasy') rather than the falling-in-love, Mills and Boon sense? A subgenre of horror perhaps, rather than of Romance? I at least would like to think so.
 

DelActivisto

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I wonder if it was more of a social phenomenon than a publishing one. I.e., the publishing was a symptom of the goth rebellion in Europe a few decades ago. The time line you indicated these novels closely matches the evolution of Gothic music I was researching last night. ( I enjoy listening to a gothic german band names Blutengel. ) I guess it was a social method of rebelling against established authority.
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Wruter: You make a good point. In the very old days, a "gothic romance" would be the kind of novel you're talking about (just as the novels of H. G. Wells were "scientific romances.")

In the 1960's and 1970's, the term "Gothic Romance" (note the capital letters I'm using) as a marketing term (like "Regency Romance") was used for inexpensive paperback originals (and the disguised reprints I mention above) designed to appeal to female readers of spooky love stories.

While we're on the subject, take a look a few more covers.







Just more of the same, right? Well, in this case, "Cassandra Knye" is Thomas M. Disch and John Sladek for the first novel, and Sladek alone for the second one. It makes you wonder what other noted SFF writers might have churned out these things early in their careers.
 

dask

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Wruter: You make a good point. In the very old days, a "gothic romance" would be the kind of novel you're talking about (just as the novels of H. G. Wells were "scientific romances.")

In the 1960's and 1970's, the term "Gothic Romance" (note the capital letters I'm using) as a marketing term (like "Regency Romance") was used for inexpensive paperback originals (and the disguised reprints I mention above) designed to appeal to female readers of spooky love stories.

While we're on the subject, take a look a few more covers.







Just more of the same, right? Well, in this case, "Cassandra Knye" is Thomas M. Disch and John Sladek for the first novel, and Sladek alone for the second one. It makes you wonder what other noted SFF writers might have churned out these things early in their careers.
You're too quick on the draw, Victoria. But I'll post what I intended any way:
Image (172).jpg
Image (173).jpg

Great seeing that alternate cover to the Knye and finding out there was another entry by that super duo.
 

Extollager

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Marvel comics' Jim Steranko stopped doing Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, and painted this Gothic image:

The Warren comics were getting pretty trashy by then, by the way, though worse was to come.
 
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