A chilling challenge

By oldenglishrose - Last updated: Saturday, September 4, 2010 - Save & Share - 9 Comments

Ever since first reading Jane Eyre and then writing my GCSE coursework on the gothic elements in the novel (I’m impressed that I can remember that) I’ve been a fan of gothic literature.  Going on to read The Italian by the famous Mrs Radcliffe at university reminded me how much I enjoy these books.  After reading Northanger Abbey I realised that I shared Jane Austen’s mocking but affectionate appreciation for the gothic displayed in that book.  For me, reading a traditional gothic novel is rather like going to the pantomime: it’s rather camp, slightly silly, very overacted, I’m familiar with the characters and I know exactly where the story is going but I love it nonetheless.

Consequently, I was very pleased to stumble across the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge, now in its fifth year, run by Stainless Steel Droppings.  He writes:

Some of my earliest reading memories were collections of Peanuts, borrowed from the local library. I would pour over them, finding humor in the strangest of places, laughing aloud. That early exposure to the work of Charles Schultz cultivated a deep and abiding passion for his creations.And that phrase, “It was a dark and stormy night…” tickled my imagination with thoughts of moonlight and darkness and things that go bump in the night.

Perhaps that was also the beginning of my passion for I what I lump under a broad personal definition of gothic literature: dark nights; decaying, haunted castles; menacing forests; pervasive gloom; ancient prophecies; damsels in distress (or at least at the wrong place in the wrong time); blood-curdling screams…stories with atmosphere so thick you could cut it with a knife.

It was a desire to celebrate and share that love of the elements of gothic fiction that inspired me to create the first R.I.P. Challenge, five years ago.

Readers Imbibing Peril, that is what it is all about. I hope you’ll consider joining us on this more eerie road less traveled.

Walk this way.

The aim of this challenge is to read books from any of the following genres: mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, gothic, horror and supernatural.  I’m going to aim for Peril the First, which means reading at least four books which meet these criteria.

My intention is to read a mixture of traditional gothic literature along with more modern works.  With the exception of The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters which I have already started (and is fantastic, by the way) I’m not sure what I will read yet, but some possibilities include:

I shall be keeping a pot of smelling salts on hand in case I am overwhelmed by terror and feel in danger of fainting.  All books will of course be read by candlelight while wearing a voluminous nightgown (except when I’m on the train, as that might raise a few eyebrows).

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9 Responses to “A chilling challenge”

Comment from Stephanie
Time September 4, 2010 at 12:34 pm

The Woman in White and The Thirteenth Tale are both excellent choices!

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time September 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Thank you for the reccommendation. I’ll try to ensure that I manage to read both of those.

Comment from Kailana
Time September 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

The Thirteenth Tale is really good! I wouldn’t mind reading The Woman in White… Happy reading!

Pingback from ‘The Little Stranger’ by Sarah Waters « A Life of Books and Tea
Time September 15, 2010 at 10:29 pm

[...] I snapped this book up when I saw it on the shelves of a local charity shop a few months ago.  The R.I.P Challenge gave me the perfect excuse to read it now, rather than banishing it to the bottom of the TBR [...]

Comment from PolishOutlander
Time September 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Absolutely love The Monk, and I think it is definitely one of the more under-appreciated books and classics. I read it in high school when my dad gave it to me, and oddly enough, that book is what got me started on writing poetry. I’m sure that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. What a wonderful tale in all its gothic glory. It was one of the first books I gave to my husband to read. I’ve been wanting to reread it for quite some time. Really hope you enjoy it.

Comment from oldenglishrose
Time September 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Thank you very much for stopping by to comment, and for the reccommendation. I think a lot of classic gothic fiction is overlooked, as you say, but I think it’s all great fun. I’ll try to make sure that ‘The Monk’ is one I manage to read, if not for this challenge then definitely this year.

Pingback from ‘The Thirteenth Tale’ by Diane Setterfield « A Life of Books and Tea
Time September 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

[...] book that I wanted to read it anyway.  Perhaps it’s the cold weather, perhaps it’s the R.I.P. Challenge making me more aware of it, but I’ve been on a bit of a gothic fiction kick recently and this [...]

Pingback from ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins « A Life of Books and Tea
Time October 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm

[...] When, where and why: I have no recollection whatsoever of buying this book, so I’m going to assume it’s been hanging around on my shelves for quite some time.  I picked it up to read now because there’s something about the colder weather which makes me want to read classic literature, and this one looked interesting.  It’s also book 23/50 for my Books Off the Shelf Challenge, and counts as 3/4 of my books towards the R.I.P. Challenge. [...]

Pingback from ‘A Study in Scarlet’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle « A Life of Books and Tea
Time October 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

[...] as it arrived in the office.  It also just sneaks in before the deadline for my last read for the R.I.P Challenge, qualifying me for Peril the [...]

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