Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE Plot Characterization Art Summary This anthology builds upon the best parts of the gothic romance genre while breathing a new life in to it. The stories are diverse and fresh, and the astounding artwork follows suit. 97 % Empowering and Diverse GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE from Bedside Press is an anthology of — you guessed it — gothic romance comics. Personally, I think this is a fantastic collection. The anthology truly pays homage to classic gothic romance stories. However, it also brings in new outlooks and twists. The collection of comics in this anthology are touching, heartbreaking, vengeful, and inspiring. While reading, I flinched away as often as I swooned, but I never once lost interest. Flipping the Genre on its Head When I think of gothic romances, there’s a clear picture in my head of what I expect. In most of these stories, white women are at the center of supernaturally or psychologically ominous events. There’s often an odd push and pull of repression and over-sexualization. There’s a suffocating power dynamic which haunts these damsels more than the dangers in their tale. THE BIG BOOK OF BISEXUAL TRIALS AND ERRORS Review: Fresh and Frank However, in GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE, the diversity is astounding. There are multiple stories which focus on women of color. Some stories integrate languages like Vietnamese or Korean. A few of the comics focus on lesbian or bisexual women. In fact, queer men of color are thrust into the center of some of these eerie love affairs. One story, “My Heart Still Beats for You,” refers to its main character with the title “Mx.” This implies that the character is gender-nonconforming. Image from “L’Heure Verte,” courtesy of Bedside Press. This comic also defies the standard tropes of gothic romances. In this anthology, the stories do not all come together to repeatedly victimize women with increasing horrors. No, in many of these stories, the heroines we follow are the horrors themselves. We have agents of Satan, werewolves, and murderesses. Even better than that, we have women who refuse to assume confining gender roles. In the rare cases that women in this anthology befall the sad fate of sexism (among other oppressive structures), it is, at the very least, addressed as something wrong. You Win Some, You Lose Some The diversity and inversion of genre is fantastic, but there’s even more that this anthology does well. I feel like it really embraces honesty. It never shies away from hard truths. One comic, “Green, Gold, and Black,” addresses the historical horrors that slaves endured at the hands of their owners. It follows a tale of an enraged wife who is incapable of conceiving children. Because of this, she drowns the babies of slaves who have been raped and impregnated by her husband. This story is truly heart-wrenching. For all of its boldness and beauty, it takes my breath away. Image from “Green, Gold, and Black,” courtesy of Bedside Press. There were certainly things within this anthology which could have been better, too. I think some stories suffered clarity for how short they were. For instance, “Ladies of the Lake” was such an interesting concept that I wish I could live in the story world longer. I didn’t feel as worried for Gwyn as I wanted to be. The reveal of the horror was so exciting that I wanted even more squirming beforehand. MY FAVORITE THING IS MONSTERS Roundtable Discussion Haunting Artwork The art styles within GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE are as diverse as the stories. “Crush” adheres to classic gothic romance comic imagery. Meanwhile “Lovers’ Moon” has a more whimsical and cartoonish look. While some stories embrace an array of colors, other stories are monochromatic. One breathtaking story, “Ouroboros,” contrasts black and white storytelling with color storytelling. This adds an extra level of emotion and sensation. One comic in particular — “What’s Best” — catches my eye for its ambitious use of watercolor. It’s an ambition which pays off. The watercolor adds to the confusion of the story’s romance. It also lends well to the eerie blurring of lines between the mother’s wants and the daughter’s. Image from “What’s Best,” courtesy of Bedside Press. Final Thoughts on GOTHIC TALES OF HAUNTED LOVE This anthology exceeds all expectation. I think that there’s something in this collection for readers who love classic gothic romance and readers who have always felt the genre lacking. Turning fresh eyes on the gothic romance genre has proven a brilliant idea. I’m ready to recommend this to anyone who enjoys horror that proves to be empowering.