I’m Reading: Eve Silver’s Dark Gothics

When I told my partner about wanting to write some gothic elements into my current book, he asked me how many gothics I’d read and enjoyed. I’d read the classics of course, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. They weren’t my favorites. Northanger Abbey was my second-least-favorite Jane Austen, although I found out later that it was intended as a parody of the genre. So why was I looking for gothic elements if I didn’t like gothics?

It was the modern stories that caught my excitement. The Australian Gothic bleakness of Jane Harper’s The Dry. The bleak and haunting beauty of urban decay I explored through Urbex in my 20s. The Southern Gothic aesthetic I saw living in Georgia and North Florida.

In response, he loaned me Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, the classic gothic that caught the imagination of Hitchcock. I was hooked. This was the voice I was looking for.

So when I started reading indie author Eve Silver’s Dark Gothic series, I knew what to expect from the genre. In the first book, Dark Desires, the heroine is cast out alone into the world and takes up service to a handsome and imposing doctor. The doctor proves to be a figure of mystery, and there may be gruesome secrets hiding in his secret laboratory.

I loved the unique twist of her work as an artist, putting her on some equal footing of skill with the Doctor, even if the social class structures of the time prevent her being considered his actual equal. The genre demands a damsel in distress, but as a character she is given strengths and real practical skills, instead of being a simple fainting beauty.

If readers struggle to enjoy the series, the issue might be unfamiliarity with the genre. The books are a delicious example of the classic gothic style, from language to overwrought suspicion of the love interest, to looming and evil villain. The author adds a subtly modernist social dynamic and a lot of intense steam to create a thoroughly satisfying new classic.

The erotic and romantic tension are one of the modern elements, although crafted in a classical voice that goes well with the historical setting. When Eve Silver brings the steam, she brings it! So turn down the lights, get out the wine and petit-fours, and take a journey into a world of brooding doctors with dark secrets, a murderer who stalks the streets of London, and a young artist fallen from high society who must win her way by her wits and heart.

Find the series and excerpts at evesilver.net.

I’m Reading: Mariana Zapata

If you asked me last year what romance tropes I was fairly “meh” about, the list would have included sports romance and slow-burn. Reading Mariana Zapata has reminded me once again that it isn’t about the trope; it’s about the writing.

I started with The Wall of Winnipeg and Me on recommendations from an agent. Despite knowing nothing about American football, I was drawn right into the characters and fascinated by their struggles. The main character, Vanessa, hooked me, and I wanted to cheer when she took absolutely no more nonsense from Aiden. I loved the deep POV and slightly unreliable narrator, as Aiden’s motivations and inner self slowly unfolds from behind the curtain of Vanessa’s annoyance and assumptions. I love that Vanessa has her own dreams to pursue and defends them so strongly. I loved it so much I re-read it three times in as many months, and went hunting for more.

After devouring Zapata’s entire Kindle Unlimited catalog, I put her squarely among my favorite authors. I think they are all on my re-read list, but my top three are definitely:

1. The Wall of Winnipeg and Me
2. Under Locke
3. Lingus

With From Lukov with Love a close tie for third.

Dear Aaron was a really interesting take on the epistolary novel, as the MC exchanges emails with a soldier stationed overseas for the first half of the book. I’ve never really connected well with epistolary novels, but if you’re a fan of the style, this should resonate well.

You can see Zapata’s full catalog with descriptions and purchase links at https://www.marianazapata.com/books. Many of her books deal with sensitive subjects such as childhood and domestic abuse, so individuals with trauma histories should beware. Most or all are available as audiobooks.