Jul 13th 2007 By: Amy DeVan
Gothic Classics is exactly what its name claims to be: a collection of five stories from classic authors, illustrated and presented in a gothic format. The tales are by Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe and Myla Jo Closser. I firmly believe that you can never go wrong if your writing is good, and in this case I believe the point is well made. Awesome graphics combined with awesome writing - how could this novel not be ideal?
(... Unless, of course, you are not a fan of period pieces or gothic writing. If that is the case, the reason I loved this book will be totally lost on you. The stories are clearly gothic and clearly period in nature. If you don't like those sorts of stories, I'd recommend something a little more modern.)
All the stories involve young women who are dealing with strange or unnatural situations. I'm not sure if that is the official definition of gothic, but I'm pretty sure it is close.
My favorite of the stories, and incidentally the first one, is 'Carmilla' by Le Fanu, pictured on the cover. Primarily, I liked it because it was mostly a toned-down version of what we've come to know as the 'original' -- Stoker's 'Dracula', even though it was written years before. I liked that the major characters were female. Make note of the illustrations -- they have a definite pencil-sketch feel that is quite noir when taken in entirety. I was impressed as well with the fluidity and characterization they provided.
I found the second vampire story, 'The Mysteries of Udolfo' dragged a bit more than 'Carmilla'. The illustrations are more what I was expecting from the piece: definitely a comic-book feel; however, I enjoyed them in contrast with the actual story.
I will say little about 'The Oval Portrait' and 'Northanger Abbey.' Both of these tales diverge from the "norms" for the authors, and both are well illustrated. I was intrigued at the choice of 'The Oval Portrait' as I have never considered it Poe's best work; however, I was pleased with the outcome if that helps at all.
The last piece was, I must say, a complete surprise to me. I was unfamiliar with Mary Jo Closser. 'At the Gate' is a story about a ghost dog. Or a dog that is a ghost. Anyway, it was cute ... but not one of my favorites.
I must postscript my review of Gothic Classics with the following: I am a horror fan. I like blood, therefore my enjoyment of any work dealing with the supernatural will be in direct proportion to its ability to sate my needs.
If you prefer the more subtle experience, Gothic Classics is the perfect graphic novel. If you are looking for major corpses, blood and gore, you should probably check out 'The Hills Have Eyes.'