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  • “At first glance, Alice Thomas Ellis might not seem an exemplar of Gothic writing,” writes Abbi Geni in a new essay for LARB. Ellis, for those unfamiliar with her work, authored such novels as The Sin Eater, Unexplained Laughter, and Fairy Tale, books that have received more fanfare in Britain than in the United States and typically feature eerie, female protagonists. But as Geni argues, Ellis “deserves more notice outside of Britain, if not for being a stylist or a master storyteller, then at least for what she’s contributed to the same literary tradition we champion in the works of Shirley Jackson. Gothic novels have their own special relationship to evil, and Ellis honors that relationship in all her books. She writes Gothic novels disguised as literary fiction—“high Gothic,” perhaps. While literary fiction may grapple with the question of whether evil truly exists—whether it comes from within or without—Gothic novels proceed from a different assumption. Ellis never wonders, Are there monsters in the world? To her, that query has already been asked and answered. There are ghouls and demons. There is unexplained laughter. There’s the darkness that lingers long after the story is done.

 

Lead image: “Margaret Spinatwood,” by Christian Kjelstrup.

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