Brisbane’s Quintessential Doll is a prolific musical storyteller. Combining dark lyrical themes, industrial-inspired electronic sounds and hypnotic vocals, her blend of “industrial folktronica” is mesmerising.

Currently in the throes of writing a new EP, she’s been reading an array of gothic literature which she says has been influencing her music.

“While I don’t set out to write my music with specific gothic influences, subconsciously, my literary choices do impact my lyric-writing. I borrow the darker themes explored in gothic literature as metaphors for human emotions that I try to express in my songs,” she said.

Her latest single Beautiful Violence, for example, takes a note out of Hans Christian Anderson’s book The Little Mermaid, painting a sonic picture of the heartbreak inflicted by betrayal and revenge.

Here’s Quintessential Doll’s five favourite gothic literature novels that have also served as musical musings…


1The Secret History by Donna Tart
This novel is told from the perspective of an impressionable college student who falls in with a strange crowd of friends. The book contains some graphic and disturbing aspects. Strangely enough, it was a book that really helped me in my nightly routine – I generally have trouble sleeping, but during the period I was immersing myself in this book I remember being able to relax each night as I read it in bed and getting some good quality sleep! (So weird, I know!)




Selected Poetry of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Penguin Classics, English Translation)

I first discovered German poet Goethe’s work as a teenager through Schubert’s lied (German art song) The Erlking, based on the poem of the same name. The imagery and storytelling is so vivid, and Schubert’s piano and vocal writing was so exquisite – it blew my 15-year-old mind! I was gifted this book by a friend, and I’ve enjoyed the poems in it. I think this edition has been translated very well because the beauty of the prose is intact.


3Violin by Anne Rice
The central characters are a woman yearning to become a musician, a ghostly violinist, and historical music figures Beethoven and Paganini. I studied the violin as a teenager, and Beethoven was a huge influence in my learning, so when I saw the book in a bookstore in my teens, I asked my dad to buy it for me.




4The Quick by Lauren Owen
This is essentially a vampire novel. There are plenty of vampire novels out there but this particular novel was entertaining to read.



5The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson
I’m not sure if this technically classifies as a gothic piece, but it’s such a dark story. My song Beautiful Violence uses the imagery from this tale as a metaphor for the heartbreak of betrayal and revenge.




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