American Gothic (novel)

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American Gothic
Author Robert Bloch
Country United States
Language English
Genre psychological horror
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publication date
Media type Print
Followed by TBA

American Gothic is a 1974 psychological horror novel by Robert Bloch and is a fictionalized portrayal of real life serial killer H. H. Holmes, who is renamed "G. Gordon Gregg" for the story.[1][2]


Inspired by the case of real-life serial killer H. H. Holmes, the story follows maniacal surgeon G. Gordon Gregg, who preys on young beautiful women and, luring them into his labyrinthine castle, kills them, thus orchestrating the perfect series of crimes. However, an ambitious Chicago journalist called Crystal (last name never given) becomes suspicious of Gregg, a feeling made much more complicated by her attraction to him and vice versa. Crystal also must balance her own career with that of her fiancé, an insurance agent named Jim Frazer, and her boss Charlie Hogan, who is tolerant and kind and believes Crystal's story. Posing as the niece of one of Gregg's victims, Crystal finds employment with Holmes as his secretary, discovering over time damning clues as to Gregg's true nature. Hogan infiltrates the castle, finding Gregg's laboratory and the horrors within. There, Gregg ambushes him, knocking him unconscious. Meanwhile, Crystal also finds a secret entrance to the cellar and enters it. Gregg attacks Crystal, but she and Charlie Hogan hold him off. Hogan douses Gregg with acid; reeling, Gregg fatally impales himself on a scalpel. After Hogan and Crystal escape, they express feelings for one another, and as the castle burns down, the 1893 World's Fair is brought to its spectacular end.[3]

Bloch also wrote a 40,000-word essay based on his research for the novel, "Dr Holmes' Murder Castle" (first published in Reader's Digest Tales of the Uncanny, 1977; since reprinted in Crimes and Punishments: The Lost Bloch, Vol 3, 2002).


The Los Angeles Times praised American Gothic, calling it a "chip off the old Bloch".[4]


  1. ^ "Chicago Tribune Article". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  2. ^ Szumskyj, Benjamin (2009). The Man Who Collected Psychos: Critical Essays on Robert Bloch. McFarland. pp. 123–124, 158–167. ISBN 0786442085. 
  3. ^ Monne, Agnieszka Soltysik (2012). The Poetics and Politics of the American Gothic. Ashgate. pp. 7–8. ISBN 1409400565. 
  4. ^ HUGHES, DOROTHY B. "'American Gothic'--Chip off the Old Bloch". LA Times. Retrieved 23 October 2012.