Daphne du Maurier was known as a legend of atmospheric, unsettling gothic horror. Her magnum opus, Rebecca, is a perfect evolution of Bronte-esque gothic, and her short stories were often chilling nightmare fuel. But for fans of Rebecca who are wanting more, what classic and modern books like Rebecca are out there to enjoy?
Fans of Rebecca, look no further. Below, you’ll find seven classic gothic novels, as well as six contemporary gothic masterpieces that are perfect books for fans of Rebecca.
Classics like Rebecca
Rebecca did not invent the gothic novel, but it did come to define it, especially within the 20th century. But, before du Maurier, there were the Bronte sisters. And after du Maurier there came a host of other great writers whose books we now see as equally inspirational gothic classics.
Here are seven classic gothic novels from before, during, and after du Maurier’s time, all of which are perfect books like Rebecca.
Mrs de Winter by Susan Hill
Susan Hill is a giant in the world of gothic literature. While she is still alive and still writing, her works have become modern classics, especially The Woman in Black, which has been adapted to the stage and the big screen.
With her legendary status and bottomless bag of gothic tricks, Susan Hill was the perfect writer to take on the world of Rebecca and write a worthy sequel. While the Daphne du Maurier original was named after the spectral first wife of Maxim de Winter, Hill’s sequel hands its title to the nameless protagonist of du Maurier’s book: the second Mrs de Winter.
Mrs de Winter is the perfect novel for fans of Susan Hill and those looking for more books like Rebecca alike. Hill and the Rebecca name are a match made in… well, you decide.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Of all the great classics out there, nothing is closer to Rebecca in scope, style, and atmosphere than Jane Eyre. While Rebecca is more purely gothic, Jane Eyre takes certain gothic tropes and uses them to tell a romantic tale in a big, lonely house.
Jane Eyre is not only Charlotte Bronte’s most popular novel, but it might also be the most popular Bronte novel overall, and there’s a reason for that. I read Jane Eyre for the first time in 2017 and remember scolding myself for all those wasted years.
Jane Eyre tells the story of Jane, an unloved and bullied girl within her own family. She winds up working as a governess for a frustrating French child in the looming country house of Mr Rochester. And so, a love affair begins. But Rochester has skeletons in his closet.
There are few classics that have aged as delicately and perfectly as Jane Eyre, a book with as much impact and beauty today as it ever had. An absolute must-read, Jane Eyre is one of the finest books like Rebecca.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Eternally wrestling with Jane Eyre for the title of “most popular Bronte novel” is Wuthering Heights, another classic gothic masterpiece that every fan of Rebecca must read. Unlike her sister’s magnum opus, Emily Bronte’s only novel is far more purely gothic than Jane Eyre.
Following the lives of a small handful of irreparable and unlovable people in the Yorkshire moors, Wuthering Heights tells the tumultuous tale of Cathy and Heathcliff, two lovers bound in an eternal and ugly struggle that continues beyond death.
What makes Wuthering Heights such a classic is just how unabashedly hyperbolic and chaotic it is, both in story and in execution. These are horrible people whom you love to hate, and watching their lives fall apart due to their broken desires is delicious and addictive reading, to say the least.
Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman
Given that the titular Rebecca is not the central character of Daphne du Maurier’s novel but rather a ghost and a force of nature; a haunting memory and an invisible, lasting presence, it’s an exciting prospect to have the chance to read Rebecca’s Tale.
Written by Sally Beauman as a kind of fictionalisation of her own interpretation of Rebecca, Rebecca’s Tale answers the questions and mysteries which are left open in du Maurier’s original novel.
It has had a mixed response from du Maurier fans but, for anyone looking for more of Rebecca’s world and story, Rebecca’s Tale is ideal reading. You can’t do better, as books like Rebecca go, than another book set in Rebecca’s world.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
It would be criminal to recommend more books like Rebecca and not actually include at least one other du Maurier novel. But which one? I’m a huge fan of Jamaica Inn, and her short story collection which includes The Birds is an excellent batch of horror goodies. But it’s My Cousin Rachel which pairs closest with Rebecca.
My Cousin Rachel tells the story of Philip, a man who becomes the heir of an estate owned by his cousin Ambrose. Soon after, Ambrose suddenly dies, shortly after marrying the titular Rachel while away in Florence. When Rachel comes to the estate, Philip finds himself both obsessed with, and terrified of, his cousin Rachel.
If you’re a fan of Rebecca, you’ll likely enjoy every single du Maurier novel, but My Cousin Rachel is the one to start with if you want something similar in tone and setting to du Maurier’s Rebecca.
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie was writing at the same time as Daphne du Maurier. And, while they wrote in different genres, they did occasionally overlap. The best example of this overlap is Christie’s iconic And Then There Were None.
Few Christie novels have been as influential as And Then There Were None. Films, video games, and even a Batman comic have retold and been inspired by this gothic murder mystery classic.
And Then There Were None is set on a fictional island off the coast of Devon (very du Maurier), where a handful of guests who share nothing in common have all been mysteriously drawn together, only for their enigmatic host to play a game with their lives and their secrets. From there, the deaths begin.
This is still a classic Christie murder mystery, but its setting and atmosphere are very evocative of classic gothic novels, most of all those of Daphne du Maurier. One of the great books like Rebecca from one of du Maurier’s great contemporaries.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
One of only two novels on this list written by men, The Turn of the Screw is arguably Henry James’ most famous story. To any reader familiar with Rebecca or Jane Eyre, this story should feel immediately familiar.
The Turn of the Screw closely follows the experiences of a young governess who has been charged with taking care of two children in an all-but-empty country manor. The children’s uncle abandoned them to her charge, and now she is being haunted. Or is she?
The Turn of the Screw is so deliciously evocative of Rebecca and the books of the Bronte sisters, while also providing a psychological horror bent of its own. A legendary ghost story that should be read by anyone looking for more books like Rebecca.
Contemporary Books like Rebecca
There has been an enormous and exciting surge of contemporary gothic novels coming out of the UK, recently, all written by women and fitting that niche carved out by Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, and Susan Hill.
Here are some of those fantastic contemporary gothic novels, as well as a few books in translation that are equally worth your attention. If you’re looking for more Rebecca and have read all the classics, these are the books you’re looking for.
The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
It is genuinely difficult to contain my love and excitement for Laura Purcell’s novels. She is one of my favourite authors, full stop. Laura Purcell embodies the new wave of historical gothic horror fiction, and her first book, The Silent Companions, is the perfect modern read for readers itching for more books like Rebecca.
While Purcell’s other books – The Corset and Bone China – are just as compelling, The Silent Companions has that exact Rebecca charm and tone. Set in a crumbling estate, the book follows Elise, a young and pregnant widow who has just moved to her late husband’s family home, only to find herself, her servants, and her cousin very much haunted.
The Silent Companions is the perfect place to start reading Purcell, and the best Purcell novel for fans of du Maurier’s work. It’s a truly evocative and inspired gothic horror masterpiece, taking inspiration from Susan Hill, Shirley Jackson, and, of course, du Maurer herself.
The Binding by Bridget Collins
The Binding is another book that I find it hard not to lose my mind over. This is an intensely electrifying modern gothic novel in every sense. An absolute flawless masterpiece, and, to top it all off, a great work of queer romantic fiction.
Fans of Rebecca will love the psychology of this book – the mind games and secrets and lies and how the story’s layers are peeled back more and more, with anger and vitriol. And that’s to say nothing of its sharp writing, engaging characters, and gorgeous country setting.
The Binding tells the story of a poor country boy who becomes apprenticed to a book binder. The skill of a binder is to take a memory from someone and lock it away in the bindings of a book. When Emmett, while working, finds a book with his own name on it, the threads of his life start to come apart.
The Lost Ones by Anita Frank
Another fantastic historical gothic horror novel in the vein of Laura Purcell, The Lost Ones is a beautiful ghost story that follows tradition while also feeling fresh and full of life. Set in wake of World War I, The Lost Ones has a bit of Downton Abbey about it.
This authentic gothic horror follows the story of Stella, an ex-war nurse who lost her husband and, so, has just moved to live with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, in the home of Madelieine’s husband. This stately home is restless, however, haunted by the ghost of an angry child.
Readers in need of more books like Rebecca will adore the creeping sense of dread as the mysteries of the past chase at the heels of the present in this moving, haunting gothic masterpiece.
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver
Another very new, vary gothic piece of historical fiction. Wakenhyrst joins this magnificent pantheon of modern gothic horror novels, and is one more book that’s perfect for fans of Rebecca (and of du Maurier in general).
Wakenhyrst is set in an all-but-forgotten manor house in Suffolk. It follows Maud, a motherless young girl raised by a dominant father. The book plays with obsession, witchcraft, local folklore, and absolute terror to create a bleak, claustrophobic, frightening gothic thriller that fans of Rebecca will adore.
The River Within by Karen Powell
The River Within is a future classic of British literature by a new and fierce talent. Set in 1950s Yorkshire, The River Within loosely and inventively retells the story of Shakespeare’s Hamlet through a lens of the modern gothic mystery.
This novel follows a handful of almost-adults trying to understand their responsibilities and relationships after the death of their friend Danny, whose body is found floating in the local river. The novel flits back and forth in time from the perspectives of multiple characters, including the recently widowed Lady Venetia and Danny himself, months before his death.
Fans of Rebecca should adore the claustrophobic country setting of The River Within, as well as the cast of secretive and often cruel characters, especially Lenny, reminiscent of Rebecca‘s nameless protagonist, and Alexander, similar in coldness to the iconic Maxim de Winter.
Four by Four by Sara Mesa (Translated by Katie Whittemore)
A modern Spanish novel by one of the country’s most beloved authors, Four by Four is reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, but with a more intense and claustrophobic gothic twist.
Set in a remote, isolated boarding school, the setting, atmosphere, and enigmatic circumstances of Four by Four are what make it so reminiscent of Rebecca and other classic gothic novels. But it’s also a story of big ideas about hierarchies and power struggles.
Four by Four is an awesome blend of gothic tropes and dystopian themes; a perfect mix-match of mystery and gothic inspiration with a story and themes reminiscent of Never Let Me Go and even the manga/anime The Promised Neverland.
Such Small Hands by Andres Barba (Translated by Lisa Dillman)
Such Small Hands is another modern Spanish novel that drips wirth du Maurier atmosphere. Set in an orphanage, this novel centres around Marina, a girl who lost both her parents in a car accident. Now, she must survive the oppressive and stressful world of school life – a school she also sleeps and eats in. But is Marina really such a sympathetic protagonist?
With a fantastic name that immediately draws shivers from your spine, Such Small Hands is a perfect modern gothic masterpiece, taking inspiration from the horror novels of old and casting a vulnerable child in the lead role, a tact seen surprisingly rarely in gothic fiction.