5 Gothic Horror Novels That Need Small Screen Adaptations

The success of the Netflix original The Haunting of Hill House proves there’s always a room for the gothic horror genre in the age of the internet and online streaming. Shirley Jackson’s timeless story of a haunted house was adapted into a 10-episode drama, and it’s now confirmed for a second season due to its immense popularity.

Often employing the use of old Victorian houses or large looming castles, the skin-tingling atmosphere of the gothic horror genre almost comes naturally, crawling along the floors, breathing from the walls. When executed well, it can keep you up at night, never letting you stop until you reach the last page of the book, or in the case of the recent hit series, the last episode.

While some may argue that the adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House dilutes the true horror of Jackson’s now classic novel, it still drives thousands of viewers to stream the show every day. Some fans promote the show loudly on social media, while others spread the word through hurried office chitchat or hushed classroom whispers, raving about this original Netflix series.

Fans are eager to watch more, and they’re in for a treat to learn that there’s an abundance of gothic horror novels that will be perfect for the small screen. While waiting for the second season to arrive, the only thing left to do is pray for the TV gods to hear the fans’ prayers to adapt these novels into a series.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Source: Pinterest

What it’s about: An unnamed narrator marries an elderly socialite Mr. Maxim de Winter after a short courtship, and she is whisked away to his old mansion, Manderley. She lives in isolation as she found out that the housekeeper and the community revere Rebecca, her new husband’s dead wife who supposedly died in a boating accident. The new Mrs. de Winter struggles as she continues to fight with the memories of the first wife.

Why it deserves an adaptation: This is not your typical horror story, but it can transform into anyone’s worst nightmare. Some claims that du Maurier reinvented Gothic fiction with Rebecca, the way she ingeniously added twists and turns to usually common Gothic and macabre themes. To see this adapted to the small screen will be interesting, even if they don’t retain all the elements in the original story and adapt it into a more modern setting.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

The Woman in Black
Source: Pinterest

What it’s about: The London solicitor Arthur Kipps is sent to a faraway town to settle the affairs and arrange the funeral of Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Alone and isolated in a house covered in fog and mystery, Kipps starts hearing noises and seeing things that shouldn’t be there. It is supposed to be just another business trip, but it horrifyingly takes a turn for the worst.

Why it deserves an adaptation: The psychologically thrilling The Woman in Black was already adapted to the big screen, with Daniel Radcliffe playing Arthur Kipps. It earned enough in the box office and wasn’t lambasted by the critics, but there were too many thrilling scenarios that could have been more fleshed out and executed better if it was spaced out in multiple episodes and not a two-hour movie.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Source: Penguin

What it’s about: Sisters Mary Catherine and Constance are the only surviving members of their family, ailing Uncle Julian not counted, after their entire family was wiped out from an arsenic poisoning during one dinner. Constance is feeble and fragile, and the headstrong and troubled Mary Catherine does her best to protect the only family she has left.

Why it deserves an adaptation: Dubbed as the Queen of Horror, Shirley Jackson’s last novel is a masterpiece and arguably her best. There are no monsters and ghosts here, but the mood and setting of the novel will make any reader feel like they’re reading a horror novel. How Mary Catherine’s narration will translate in the small screen is intriguing as her perspective on life and death makes for an intriguing storytelling.

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

The Castle of Otranto book cover
Source: Goodreads

What it’s about: The head of the family fears the end of their family line when his son Conrad dies a day before his wedding with the princess Isabella. Driven by fear, Manfred decides to marry Isabella himself and divorce his wife Hippolita, leading to a series of decisions that can be fatal for others.

Why it deserves an adaptation: No Gothic horror list is complete without Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. Regarded as the first in its genre, it’ll be a challenge to adapt this into a series as it’s the novel that set the standards of what makes a story Gothic. More than two centuries ago since it was written, this novel merges medieval storytelling with Gothic elements stood the test of time and continues to define the genre.

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Source: Goodreads

What it’s about: The first in Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches, The Witching Hour tells the mysterious story of a family of witches dealing with witchcraft and the occult, and how they have been plagued by the presence of a special being, aiming to be brought to flesh by the witches. The protagonist Rowan goes back to their old house in New Orleans, only to fight off this evil that disturbed her family for the past four centuries.

Why it deserves an adaptation: Anne Rice’s Lives of the Mayfair Witches deserves multiple seasons of TV series, so why not start with The Witching Hour? It’s full of intrigue, witchcraft, romance, and gothic fantasy, and the original story will look cinematic on screen. With the plot of the book hiding surprises, there are tons of possible spin-offs from this one, too.

The gothic horror genre experienced most fame in the 18th and the early 19th century, and it brought with it timeless stories that are now categorized as classics. Seeing these come alive through episodes of macabre, Goth, and powerful storytelling will definitely be a treat to fans of the genre.

With the success of The Haunting of Hill House, may there be more Gothic horror-themed shows to be binge-watched soon. And hopefully, Netflix and other TV networks listen to the cries of fans asking for more.

(Featured Image Source: Netflix)

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