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The Castle of Otranto, Vathek & Nightmare Abbey
The Gothic novel, featuring dark tales of tragedy, romance, revenge, torture and ancient villainies, tinged with horror and the supernatural, became the vogue in the late eighteen and early nineteenth centuries. This unique collection presents the best and the most diverse of this fascinating genre. In Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto, often regarded as the first tru ...more
Paperback, Wordsworth Mystery & Supernatural, 259 pages
Published August 5th 2009 by Wordsworth Editions Ltd
(first published 1818)
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Many people claim to be fans of the gothic novel, but they've probably only read imitations of true gothic novels. The Castle of Otranto will blow your mind if you're not familiar with the genre. It has just about everything you could possibly wish for, a usurped throne, lecherous princes, ghosts, virtuous maidens, daring escapes, secret identities revealed, weird phenomena, I guess that includes ghosts, giant helmets(?), a giant knight(?), and enough overwrought scenes and melodrama to last a d ...more
"Otranto": I can see how this story started the craze for Gothic romance that continues to this day. It's a fun story full of insanely over-inflated characters and wild, dramatic events. "Vathek": While the picture painted by the author was compelling and, of course, wildly dramatic, I started slogging through instead of reading eagerly and wishing it would just end, already. "Nightmare Abbey": What a delight. Perfectly-balanced satire. OVERALL: A pleasant mix of some of the different flavors of ...more
I'm a sucker for Gothic novels - they're my guilty pleasure. But, with all the fair damsels in distress, dark castles, dashing heroes and villaineous villains, the eye-rolling starts to overshadow the giggle factor at some point. (I do realize that these books were the first of this genre so that it's sort of unfair to complain about the overuse of tropes.) Nightmare Abbey, the last novel in this collection, poking fun at said tropes was a breathe of fresh air and had many a laughing out loud mo ...more
"Nightmare Abbey" is the only thing that saves this book from being a complete disappointment. "The Castle of Otranto" is ridiculous, and still better than "Vathek", which is tedious and pointless. "Nightmare Abbey", on the other hand, is a genuinely funny parody and the only reason I'm giving this collection 4 stars instead of 2.
Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford — also known as Horace Walpole — was an English art historian, man of letters, antiquarian and Whig politician. He is now largely remembered for Strawberry Hill, the home he built in Twickenham, south-west London where he revived the Gothic style some decades before his Victorian successors, and for his Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto. Along with the book, h ...moreMore about Horace Walpole...