Ghosts & Gothic Romance: The 20 Best Books Like Haunting Adeline

Ghosts and romance have been intertwined for centuries but only came to the forefront of literary works with the Gothic romance genre. Whether the ghosts are real or not may be questionable, but the romance is very real in these stories of characters haunted by spirits and emotions, love and loss, grief and joy. 

Best Books Like Haunting Adeline

H.D. Carlton’s Haunting Adeline is just the latest Gothic romance breakout to catch the literary world’s attention. An extremely dark tale of a woman being stalked and toyed with by a vigilante as she investigates her great-grandmother’s death. The haunting is a psychological one here, relying more on atmosphere and some spicy scenes to keep readers invested as Adeline and leading man Zade play their cat-and-mouse game.

These books have that same overhanging dread mixed with romance, some haunted literally and others psychologically, but these books will send tingles down your spine, among other places. We’ve tried to balance between more accessible titles with the same atmosphere and some spicier books to follow up on Haunting Adeline’s other best feature.

Hunting Adeline by H.D.Carlton

Hunting Adeline (Cat and Mouse Duet)

There’s not much that could follow up on Haunting Adeline like its sequel, Hunting Adeline. Despite the title being one misspelling away from the first book’s, the sequel somehow takes things in a much starker and sinister direction. 

Picking up immediately after the first book, Zade rushes to rescue Adeline and take revenge on her kidnappers. The book cranks up the themes of trafficking and abuse while trading the spicy scenes of the first book for gratuitous violence. Nevertheless, it ties the story together with a neat little bow by the end.

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Her Soul To Take by Harley Laroux

Her Soul to Take (Souls Trilogy)

For fans of the spicy side of Haunting Adeline. Her Soul To Take is a rollercoaster of demons, amateur ghost hunters, a cult, and a damn big helping of wit. The book follows Rae, a part-time investigator of all things weird as she becomes the obsession of a demon named Leon. 

The chemistry between the two leads is fun, and the jokes between them manage to land since the characters are pretty fleshed out. The fun part is the mythology, with Lovecraft overtones mixed in with demon mythology, there’s a ton of worldbuilding the author obviously took a lot of joy in.

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Scream For Us by Molly Doyle

Scream For Us (Order of the Unseen)

Scream For Us is a short read, only 122 pages to be exact. A lot of very, very wild things happen in those 122 pages though, and you’ll be left breathless by the end of it. Following a woman who wanders into a strange Halloween party and meets some enticing strangers, Scream For Us manages to be a surreal and spicy take on the genre.

It is spicy, too! It may not be for everyone as it focuses more on the experience of everything happening so fast instead of a solid through-plot. Sometimes it’s all about the ride though, not the destination.

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Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain

Dark and Shallow Lies

The atmosphere of Dark and Shallow Lies is one of the most hauntingly dark takes on the Louisiana bayou since Anne Rice debuted Interview With The Vampire. Sain even describes the heat and steam of the summer swamps perfectly as “Like being in someone’s mouth for three months.” 

Dark and Shallow Lies is more than atmosphere though, being a coming-of-age story about a town haunted by secrets and one girl trying to find her missing best friend. This book isn’t as spicy as the others, but it is haunting and sets up a world of magical terror.

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We Are All The Same In The Dark by Julia Heaberlin

We Are All the Same in the Dark: A Novel

One of those metaphorical hauntings mentioned earlier. While this book doesn’t have any real ghosts in it, secrets are haunting a small town where a girl disappeared over a decade ago. When a child appears suddenly by the road, they open up the disappearance case again and more than secrets are unburied.

The mystery of We Are All The Same In The Dark is gripping, with a split POV between characters that alternate between fast-paced thriller and almost noir-like mystery. It’s a rollercoaster until the end.

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Solita by Vivien Rainn

Solita: A Gothic Romance (Solita Series)

Solita takes the Southern Gothic aesthetic and plot, moves it to the Philippines, and cranks the horror even higher. Following Sadie, the only living member of her family left to take care of their historical house, Solita takes inspiration from Poe, Rice, and Philipino culture for a tale of terror set in a crumbling house where a demon wants release.

The atmosphere of dread is almost overpowering, with so much detail given to the dilapidated house it seems like the antagonist. There’s a heartbreaking message of love and loss at the center as Sadie confronts the demon along with her family’s history that wraps everything into a neat, scary little package.

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The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb

The Haunting of Brynn Wilder: A Novel

More of a thriller but with elements of horror and romance at the center, Wendy Webb’s novel is about loss, grief, and facing your past. A large boarding house and the strange people that reside there complete the gothic atmosphere, and any character can be dangerous.

Brynn Wilder is such a well-written character running from her past it’s not hard to root for her as things unfold. The romance isn’t nearly as spicy as others on the list either, so it’s pretty accessible for everyone and is, all things considered, one of the lighter reads here.

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The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

The Hacienda

Considering this is Isabel Canas’ debut novel, she made one hell of a first impression. A new spin on the story of Rebecca set after the Mexican War of Independence, protagonist Beatriz marries a handsome, rich man and moves to his remote estate only for things to not be at all what they seem.

There’s a classically forbidden romance angle to the story that plays on Southern Gothic tropes as it goes, and the horror goes between psychological and a classic haunted house story seamlessly when it wants to. The scares and mystery balance and build to a great twist on the genre.

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Ghost Eaters by Clay Mcleod Chapman

Ghost Eaters: A Novel

Ghost Eaters is a drug-addled fever dream about one woman’s grief and need for closure after her ex-boyfriend dies of an overdose not long after she broke things off. After discovering a drug that allows the user to see ghosts and the afterlife, Erin just desperately wants to make things right with her dead ex Silas, and she’ll do whatever she needs to to make it happen.

It’s like a strange mix of Flatliners and Trainspotting, giving an insight into addiction, love, and loss few other books I’ve come across. Wholly original and amazing characters thrown into a strange world just beyond their own make for a wild ride.

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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger is a haunting British horror set after the Second World War, where a doctor goes back to his childhood town to attend to a family living in a run-down Victorian estate. Yes, it’s another haunted house/Gothic horror, but The Little Stranger mixes in enough mystery and ambiguous dread to make Poe blush.

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Gallows Hill by Darcy Coates

Gallows Hill

Not another haunted house, but a haunted winery this time in Darcy Coates’s ghost story about a woman returning home to bury her parents. Gallows Hill has some of the more grotesque ghouls on this list, being twisted masses of flesh and death that still give a shiver after the book is over.

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The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

The Invited: A Novel

The Invited takes the age-old story of a haunted house and doesn’t deconstruct it, but constructs it literally as the characters go about building a house made with old parts from troubled histories. Why would anyone ever do that? For aesthetics and story, of course! This one is a fun, terrifying romp through a DIY haunted house with a mystery at the center.

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Lost Among The Living by Simone St. James

Lost Among the Living

Another haunted manor, a ghost outside, and a possible curse are just some of the plotlines in Lost Among The Living. Everything here plays to some Gothic trope, with St. James taking her time to have fun with each one as she unfolds the mystery surrounding Jo, her deceased husband, and his strange family.

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Touch Not The Cat by Mary Stewart

Touch Not the Cat

It’s not a Gothic story without an old dilapidated home in the middle of nowhere, so that’s what we’re getting more of in Touch Not The Cat, a thriller mystery about a dead father, a possibly haunted house, telepathy, and some relationships that stay a little too in the family. Touch Not The Cat was a little ahead of its time in 1976 but holds up as a dreary gothic romance today.

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Coldheart Canyon by Clive Barker

Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story

Barker’s spin on the haunted estate story and doomed love about a Hollywood actor recovering from disastrous plastic surgery while a desperate fan sets out to find him. There are so many layers here, from an alternate dimension to a love story, then ghosts haunting an old party house. Clive Barker knocks it all out with Coldheart Canyon, a sleeper hit that quietly became one of his best works.

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The Third Hotel by Laura van der Berg

The Third Hotel: A Novel

Finally, a ghostly, gothic-adjacent romance that doesn’t take place in one rickety old house. Instead, the narrative follows a widow through the streets of Cuba as she chases down someone that may or may not be her dead husband. The book gives the backstory to the marriage and how things came to be as it cuts between the chase through Havanna streets in a tense thriller with an unreliable narrator.

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Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Nothing But Blackened Teeth

Back to the haunted houses, but this time in rural Japan as friends gather in said haunted house to celebrate an upcoming wedding. Thing is, there’s a bride buried under the house that never got her wedding, and she wants company. The Gothic overtones mixed with Japanese folklore draw a comparison to stories like The Grudge, but with deeper interpersonal drama. The romance is light, but the scares come heavy for such a quick read.

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Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons

Summer Sons is a queer gothic thriller to rival Anne Rice. While not supernatural, the story follows Andrew, haunted by the recent death of his best friend Eddie, and trying to find answers as to why Eddie took his own life. The mystery unravels as Andrew comes to terms with his sexuality and discovers who he is through what he finds about Eddie. Love and grief all come together in a huge climax that will leave you thinking for days. 

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Wuthering Heights

Can’t have ghosts and gothic romance without one of the prototypes for it. Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights became a template for haunted romances, following the doomed love between Heathcliffe and Catherine. Just a dreary, melancholy story about love that cannot be and how it affects the families involved for decades to come.

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Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark takes inspiration from classic Gothic tones and applies it to a story inspired by The Amityville Horror. Years after her family fled the house in the middle of the night and her father got rich off selling the story, Maggie inherits the very house from her father and decides to renovate and sell. Events just get more strange as the entire town isn’t fond of her and the house may be more haunted than even her father made it out to be. Home Before Dark turns the haunted house story upside down with equal horror and humor.

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FAQ

What is a Gothic romance?

Typically a Gothic romance will have some sort of love story mixed in with an aspect of weird lit, something out of the ordinary that casts a shadow over the events of the story.

Who are some of the best Gothic romance writers?

Anne Rice is probably one of the best-known Gothic romance authors, but others such as the authors above, Sylvia Grace Moreno, and Erin Craig have all made their mark on the genre.

Does a book need romance to be Gothic?

Nope! While romance is an aspect of Gothic horror that’s been there from the beginning, it can be done without it. The biggest thing needed in Gothic horror is an extreme sense of dread and foreboding. It’s all about the atmosphere when it comes to Gothic lit.

Is Gothic Romance an LGBT-friendly genre?

Gothic romance isn’t just a great genre for LGBT stories, it was one of the earliest to include them as main points. As far back as Carmilla and up to Summer Sons on this list, LGBTQ+ themes have been at the forefront of Gothic literature since the start.

Is Haunting Adeline a sequel to Age of Adaline?

No. Nope. Not at all. Please do not make this mistake as a few undoubtedly have. It will not be what’s expected.

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Ross Tyson