An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James (And, While We’re At It, Let’s Discuss Gothic Literature)


“Well,” I thought to myself as I opened this novel, “I don’t usually read Gothic literature.”  But then I found myself enjoying the eerie escape on a cold, October night. I also found myself remembering Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, and Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White, both of which I have read at least twice because they so captured my interest.

In fact, there is a rather long list of literature in this genre that I have read with great pleasure:

  • The Pit and The Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Bleak House and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

So what categorizes a novel as Gothic literature? The following elements precisely:

  • a virginal maiden
  • an older foolish woman
  • a hero
  • a tyrant or a villain
  • a stupid servant
  • clergy which is ineffective or evil
  • and the setting as a character itself, usually a building with secrets of its own

That said, I hardly expect Gothic literature written today to meet the glorious drama of classics in the past. But An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James has been a fun treat this Halloween season. If you are interested in a story which takes place in a haunted, English village, with a maiden who is trying to calm the ghost of Walking John while discovering the cause of her Uncle’s death, and an Inspector with whom she falls in love, this would be just the ticket.

You can also read about it here at A Work in Progress, and here at Indextrious Reader, two blogs I admire.

11 thoughts on “An Inquiry Into Love and Death by Simone St. James (And, While We’re At It, Let’s Discuss Gothic Literature)”

  1. I’m reading Jane Eyre right now (well, listening) and I’ve been enjoying it so much. I read it when I was 11 or 12 and don’t remember much, other than the fact that it was the first classic I really connected with. This sounds like a great book to read next!


    1. I would love to listen to Jane Eyre. I haven’t read it for years, and it’s such a good classic. I do remember seeing the film version of it once on PBS, and that was almost just as good.


  2. I really enjoyed this book when I read it last year. I’ve read two other books by St. James, and they’re good and I liked them, but they’re not as good as this book. An Inquiry Into Love and Death is by far my favorite of her books. She writes a good ghost story…and I like that there’s always a little romance, too.


    1. I hadn’t heard of Simone St. James before receiving the book from Penguin, but then I also noticed review on the two blogs I mentioned in the post. It’s good to learn from one another!


  3. I’d never really thought about Gothic Literature until I read Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger, which had elements of it in the story. And then I read Wuthering Heights, which I just loved. Looking at your list, I’ve read quite a few of those titles, so, I do believe I am a fan of Gothic Lit 🙂 Maybe I’ll give Frankenstein a read next.


    1. I know! I never thought I’d be a fan of Gothic literature either, until I realized so many of the classics I’ve devoured have been in that genre. I forgot to add The Little Stranger to the list, but it certainly qualifies. As for Frankenstein, that novel made me so sad for the monster. More sad than scared, which is what the movie seems to portray.


  4. I liked this (I “read” it as an audiobook…though I thought the ‘gothic’ parts weren’t especially riveting! (I was a sucker for the romance, though.)


    1. As far as a light (compared to Rebecca and such) gothic read, I though this was fun. I’m not in any hurry to read everything she’s ever written, buti to seemed to hit the spot for chillybOctober nights when I was “dead” tired. 😉


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