- "Good and bad no longer existed. It was all degrees of evil now. Gwendolyn held his dying body as the storm raged on. Death had finally arrived, and it was glorious to the touch."
- ―Quote from the book.
The Gothic Sea is the only novel written by Joe Carroll. Published in 2003, it was inspired by The Light-House, Edgar Allan Poe's last unfinished work. According to Joe's ex-wife Claire, the novel was Joe's way of finishing what Poe began with his unfinished story.
It is described on the back cover as "the compelling story of a broken-hearted young woman who spends her days pining over her lover lost at sea. Carroll uses dark gothic elements in his writing that capture the romanticism and beauty of love and death."1
The protagonist is a woman named Gwendolyn, who in the ending swims in the sea towards the horizon and the sun. Her fate is left ambiguous, as Emma questions Joe if Gwendolyn died. According to Mike Weston, Claire was the inspiration for Gwendolyn.
Emma Hill, a huge fan of the book, described the imagery in the book as so beautiful and vivid she felt like she was there.
However, the book was a commercial and critical failure in its first printing. Joe later admitted that it was "clearly too avant-garde; lost in literati pretense".
It would later go on to become a bestseller (likely due to the publicity brought on by Joe's crimes). Regardless, it was still considered a failure by numerous critics. As such, Joe's followers would go out to extract revenge for him, such as Rick Kester killing a reviewer that gave it a scathing review.
Emma interpreted Gwendolyn as herself and thus foresees Gwendolyn's end as her own impending one. The book has been seen in the possession of some of Carroll's followers, including Charlie Mead and Jordan Raines.
A murder victim of Lily Gray's group was found dressed like Gwendolyn in the story and holding a copy of the book, as they were trying to lure Carroll out of hiding.
- According to a Twitter post, The Gothic Sea was self-published.2