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The Gothic romances of the 18th century, such as the novels of Ann Radcliffe, and the enduringly popular Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), sought to recreate feelings of terror and horror for an audience of adult readers.Today, however, most Gothic fiction is being published for, and read by, young people.
In Gothic novels of the 19th century, monsters were usually wholly “Othered”.
A Victorian-era vampire such as Stoker’s Dracula, for instance was depicted as evil, foreign, and frighteningly different to the British human.
Surprisingly, it has proved to be the ideal genre for exploring the grotesque and frightening aspects of coming of age, and metaphorically representing pressing social issues such as racism and gender inequality.
The phenomenally popular YA genre, targeted at readers between 12 and 18 years old, evolved from realist novels of the 1960s.
This is a crucial moment in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novel series, published from 2005 to 2008.
Meyer’s books heralded a new, and continuing, wave of Gothic fiction for Young Adult readers, which revisits familiar literary Gothic conventions: ancient, ruined buildings and monstrous supernatural figures like the vampire, werewolf, ghost and witch.Beyond Twilight, some of the most popular YA Gothic series also focus on the “lives” of vampires who are protagonists rather than foes.Richelle Mead’s six-book Vampire Academy (2007-2010), now adapted into a TV series, is about a teenage girl who is a Dhampir (half-human, half-vampire).In each subsequent revival of Gothic fiction, the genre has been reworked and reinvented to address current cultural concerns.In particular, the monsters that haunt the pages of Gothic novels are transformed with shifting fears and anxieties.The novel follows the story of young damphir (half human, half vampire) Rosemarie Hathaway and her best friend, a Moroi, Vasilissa Dragomir.Rose is training to be a "Guardian", a protector of the Moroi, whilst at the same time battling a forbidden attraction for her instructor, Dimitri Belikov.Clare has said that she did not write her series for young adults (and indeed almost half of the readership of YA fiction might be adults).Nevertheless, her teenage protagonists have resonated with readers of the same age.She becomes entangled in a forbidden romance with her instructor as St Vladimir’s Academy, while learning how to defeat evil vampires named Strigoi.The YA Gothic revival has also embraced a wide range of supernatural entities.