Whimsigoth is an aesthetic I have always loved but never the knew the name of – until now! For those who may not be familiar with the term, whimsigoth was at its height in the 90’s and refers to that witchy, ethereal style of dress and home décor characterized by rich fabrics, deep colors, and well, whimsy. Think Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed, or Sanderson sisters vibes. It’s Stevie Nicks and Florence + the Machine – it’s Phoebe Buffay and Practical Magic! It’s a fantastical and quirky style inspired by gothic horror stories, medieval fairytales, Shakespearian romances, and of course, witchcraft – and it’s taking over TikTok! Or it should, if I have anything to say about it. So if you’re like me and trying to inject a bit of whimsigoth into every facet of your life, here are some books to fit into your whimsigoth aesthetic!
I mean, this one is pretty obvious by the cover alone, but let me tell you Belladonna just screams whimsigoth! It’s a dark, gothic fantasy with a murder mystery at its center – plus the main love interest is the literal personification of death (swoon)! Our main character, Signa Farrow, has grown up with some unique abilities. She can see ghosts and seemingly cannot die. She’s been passed from relative to relative, each of them after the large sum she’s set to inherit once she comes of age and each of them perishing in various and odd manners. When Signa is sent to the home of her distant cousins the Hawthornes, one of whom is deathly ill, she’s determined to stop Death from taking her family once and for all. But not all is as it seems, and Signa will need to team up with her enemy Death himself to save cousin before it’s too late.
Let’s be honest, almost any Holly Black book gives whimsigoth vibes, but I’m going with The Stolen Heir because we live for a quest. I loved Folk of the Air and its courtly intrigues and politics, but there is just something about a travelling-quest novel that really gets me! Maybe it’s because we finally get to see the mysterious Court of Moths, or maybe it’s because Oak and Suren are the definition of romantic pining, but there’s just something about this one that really got me. And that ENDING! Miss Holly, that was monstrous and vile and I loved every second of it! I am ready for my second helping, gimme book two please!
You want to live a celestial fantasy set in the 90’s? Ahem, An Arrow to the Moon was practically made for you! A retelling of Chinese mythology, this book follows two love-struck teens whose families cannot stand each other – very Romeo and Juliet. But as these star-crossed lovers discover each other and their mysterious connection, strange things start happening around town. Hunter’s eerily accurate aim, Luna’s odd connection to the fireflies, earthquakes and cavernous cervices appearing across town… Are they all connected? And what does it mean? And what fate do the stars spell for our love birds? This book is lyrical and etherial and absolutely gorgeous! Just make sure you bring some tissues because this one is a real tear-jerker!
That Dark Infinity has the vibes of classic fantasies like The Last Unicorn and The Dark Crystal, but with fresh creative elements! It’s on this list because it feels like the perfect, timeless fantasy with just enough darkness to give it some edge! Plus, if that cover doesn’t just scream whimsigoth, I don’t know what does! If you’re wondering what this book is about, we follow the Ankou, an immortal mercenary cursed to turn to bone in the daylight, and Flora, handmaiden of a missing princess. The two must team up together to find the princess and break the Ankou’s curse. And if you’re wondering, yes there is romance and it’s perfection!
Whimsigoth said 90’s witchery and The Drowning Summer said you’re welcome. This book has got big Practical Magic energy – and yes, that movie is a whimsigoth style icon and don’t you forget it. So it was really destined that this book wound up on this list. It is the perfect mix of seaside murder mystery and supernatural spookiness! Plus it’s got a friends-to-enemies-to-lovers sapphic romance, family drama, and plenty of horror to sink your teeth into. I mean, if this one doesn’t have you wanting to host a séance on the beach, nothing will.
Remember when I said that whimsigoth took big inspiration from medieval fairytales and Shakespearian romances? Well, if you’re looking for that injection of historically-inspired witchy fantasy, look no further! Set in a fantasy world inspired by Elizabethan and Cromwellian England, The Witch Hunter follows Elizabeth Grey one of the king’s best witch hunters. Until she is arrested and accused of being a witch herself. She will be forced to team up with the most dangerous and powerful wizard in the realm, Nicholas Perevil, if she wants to survive. And when she uncovers a plot that threatens the whole of the realm, she may discover her old enemies are not a villainous as she thought – and her old friends have dark secrets and hidden agendas. This book is the perfect mix of fantasy and history, with a healthy dash of romance and plenty of action! Seriously, I cannot recommend this one enough!
If you know Emily Lloyd-Jones, you know she is the queen of the soft-boy and the ethereal fantasy – and The Drowned Woods is no exception! Set in a world inspired by Welsh mythology, this book is equal parts dark fantasy and thrilling heist! Mer is the last living water diviner, once used by the prince to bring ruin to his enemies, now on the run. But when her old handler returns with a plot to take down the prince forever, she will have to team up with a motley crew of thieves to recover a treasure imbued with the magic of the fae Otherfolk. Including Fane, an intriguing fae-cursed boy whose secrets are many, and Ifanna, a princess of thieves with whom Mer has history. This novel is beautifully written and incredibly thrilling, with whimisgoth vibes out the wazoo!