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Recorded HS
Gothic Book Club

Love the tradition of ghosts, ghouls, vampires and werewolves? Supplement your reading of the classics with contemporary samples of the Gothic genre.

Total class meetings: 4

Duration: 60 minutes per session

Prerequisite: Read the books (see Parental Warning below)

Suggested grade level: 9th to 12th grade (see Parental Warning below).

Suggested credit: ⅓ semester Literature

PARENTAL WARNING (from Mrs. Nicholson)

This book club is NOT appropriate for students younger than 9th grade. 

A Bloody Habit and Brother Wolf are Gothic novels written according to the rules of the genre. That means a strong preternatural presence and some violence (almost entirely “offstage”). My tone is very Victorian, so it’s pretty pedestrian by today’s standards. Nevertheless, recognizing vampires as evil, preternatural blood-suckers means dancing on the edges of the Church’s teaching on demonology — “the edges” because I personally cannot stomach the details of exorcisms and leave them to the experts. Further, the novel is deliberately humorous in the midst of some intense themes. Nevertheless, I want to be quite upfront about the content. If your student would be frightened by Dracula (which is, at moments, quite frightening), your student will be frightened by my books.

In my classes, we always pledge we won’t give away plot points, etc. We’ll do the same here but with this very important codicil: if your student is reading and is frightened or disturbed, you can email me to ask any questions — I will answer them, even if you’re asking me to reveal the fate of a character. Your student’s ability to sleep is more important than maintaining absolute suspense. (Also I flatter myself that I can continue to entertain, even if you know what is going to happen.)

Additionally, in A Bloody Habit especially, setting of the Gothic and the particular context of my novel involve a close look at the legacy of English anti-Catholicism. My narrator, in fact, is a strongly anti-Catholic agnostic. As I will explain in our meetings, this makes him quite perfect as a narrator in this genre. Other characters include a representative of the High Decadent movement, occultists, Masons, addict-like vampire victims, carnage brought about by feral werewolves, and gypsies. Depending on the age of your student, any or all of these could be shocking.

In the end, I think both of these novels are more about goodness than about any of the above. While we will not have quizzes or tests, I plan to guide the students through the above themes. If any of you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me!


Join Mrs. Nicholson in reading her two Gothic novels, A Bloody Habit and Brother Wolf. In addition to having a lot of fun (and having the daylights scared out of us all), we will learn about Gothic fiction, folklore, and the writing “process”. Lovers of Dracula and Frankenstein should especially enjoy this foray into the genre.


Week 1: A Bloody Habit, Prologue-Chapter 16

Week 2: A Bloody Habit, Chapter 17-Epilogue

Week 3: Brother Wolf, Chapters 1-14.

Week 4: Brother Wolf, Chapters 15-27.

Materials and Homework

Course materials: A Bloody Habit (Ignatius Press) & Brother Wolf (Chrism Press).

Homework: This is not a class! Read the books and have fun!

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