During my tumultuous but reserved adolescence I was a reader of fantasy, as well as works of the common English canon, notably Charles Dickens.
I was a devotee of the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien, reading them over and over, but later in life I’ve found them to be unreadable. I looked farther afield for similar works of literature.
During the late 1960s fantasy writer Lin Carter edited a series of paperback books for Ballantine, a publisher which was attempting to capitalize on the mass-market success of Tolkien. Ballantine published three wonderful novels by Mervyn Peake, the Gormenghast Trilogy. I just loved those novels, they were like Dickens with even more of a touch of the grotesque, psychological fantasies informed by Freudian and Jungian readings, I suppose. The first paperback Ballantine releases featured a center section of Peake’s wonderful drawings of many of the characters. The later editions lacked that section, no doubt due to the costs involved.
I urge you to seek out Peake’s novels. I need to re-read them. Here are a few of Mervyn Peake’s drawings: