This week’s topic is angsty romances, meaning relationships in books that have a lot of ups and downs or maybe even a tragic end. I think every reader has a list of books that ripped out their heart and stomped on it in this regard, and here are mine.
5. Louis/Lestat from The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. No, I haven’t read all these books, but Interview with the Vampire is enough to see that Louis and Lestat lived like a married couple for quite a while. And then had a sudden and awful falling out. The book is more subtext than explicit, but this is definitely a romance between two people with clashing life philosophies. Which means sometimes love isn’t enough in that case. Hilariously, Louis often makes Lestat sound like a childish bully, but Lestat views Louis as this giant crybaby. Despite their differences, you can’t help but crave a proper reunion where they bury the hatchet. Though not in each other’s necks.
4. Unnamed Narrator/Marianne Engel from The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. A former porn star gets in a horrific car accident that leaves him burned and disfigured. During his stay in the hospital, he meets a mentally ill sculptor who claims they’ve been lovers again and again through past lives. They are the most unlikely couple in history. Their relationship is full of pain and struggle. Marianne tells him all these beautiful stories about their past lives. And the ending is very bittersweet. It’s one of the most gut-wrenching reading experiences but also worth every second. Kind of the definition of why we crave angst sometimes.
3. Roland Deschain/Susan Delgado from The Dark Tower: Wizard and Glass by Stephen King. Spoilers if you’ve not read book four of The Dark Tower Series, but once upon a time, young Roland had a girlfriend named Susan. Their tryst has all the trappings of forbidden love. It doesn’t end well, and it serves to explain a bit about why Roland can be such a mess. Why he doesn’t like getting close to anyone. She was clearly the love of his life, and King deftly rips your heart into tiny pieces over it. It’s not even the only harsh revelation in that book, but it serves as one of the more tear-jerking.
2. Elisabeth Vogler/The Goblin King from Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Well, what do you know! I just finished a book that was a fantasy/romance that was full to brimming with angst. It fits quite well on this list, because it’s given me the book hangover of a lifetime, and I can’t stop thinking about it and craving the sequel. This book serves as a loose Labyrinth retelling, so the Goblin King is as mischievous and quick to play cruel games as you might expect, but he also has a hidden soul that Elisabeth has to dig for. Elisabeth has issues of her own that are the result of a cruel father and being selfless to the point of forgetting she’s allowed to have things, too. The result is a lot of passion and pain. Total angst fest, and I loved it.
1. Jane/Silver from The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee. The first book I ever read that made me fall in love with a couple only to feel such incredible loss by its end. The first of the angst comes flying in with Jane herself, a girl who has never been allowed to be herself. She falls in love with one of a new line of pleasure robots, then instantly feels ashamed for having such a weird kink. Then there’s her trying to be her own person and love this robot despite what anyone, including her controlling mother, might say. Then there’s the robot’s plight of whether he’s capable of having a soul, that age-old argument. Then finally there’s the lesson of how nothing beautiful can stay. You want angst? Tanith Lee’s got it for you.
I hope you see something here that, if you’re into this kind of thing, intrigues you. Also, I’ve no doubt there will be a lot of Wuthering Heights on the various lists. I didn’t bring it up here because that’s not a romance. That’s two very damaged people who probably should’ve never met, because they turned out to be an atom bomb when combined. Angst is good in a romance, but it can’t be all angst. Not for me, at least. Great book that I love to pieces, but it wasn’t what I was going for when I compiled this list.
In any case, if you have some recommendations or want to talk about your choices for this topic, feel free in the comments. As always, happy geeking!
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