These days, when someone says “gothic,” everyone thinks body piercings, dyed black hair and Doc Martens. But the term also refers to a literary genre, one that has crept into a lot of today’s YA literature (a good example is Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl). Rebecca Maizel’s Infinite Days also contains a number of gothic elements, which we’ll discuss.
But first, here are the hallmarks of a gothic novel:
- Terror (either physical or psychological)
- The supernatural, ghosts
- Haunted houses and castles
- Darkness, death, decay
- Doubles (twins)
- Hereditary curses
So let’s see. Infinite Days has:
- Terror: That poor, poor Dutch woman. ‘Nuff said.
- The supernatural: Vampires. Natural? Nope, supernatural.
- A castle in which unspeakable acts are committed. Also, there is an art “tower” that invokes castle imagery.
- Darkness, death and decay: Lenah was allegedly buried “alive” in a cemetery for a hundred years! Doesn’t get more creepy-gothic than that!
- Doubles: Infinite Days seems to have more triples than doubles, although the Three-Piece is kind of a double if two of them share a brain (which I’m pretty sure they do). There are also three Enos brothers, though only two of them attend school with Lenah and only two are presented racing each other on the lake.
- Madness: I would argue that bloodlust is a type of madness.
- Secrets: There’s at least one on every page.
- Hereditary curses: Hmm, this is the only criteria I can’t really argue, though Lenah creates a “family” cursed by vampirism.
So while Infinite Days isn’t technically a gothic novel, it contains plenty of gothic elements. If you’re interested, here’s a list of “classic” gothic novels. Pick one up and see if you can identify the gothic bits.
- The Castle of Otrono by Horace Walpole
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
- Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice