Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zastrozzi” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.16  ·  Rating details ·  213 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Adroitly exploiting the classic elements of popular Gothic horror, Shelley created a dramatic tale of romance and revenge. This short and intensely emotional novel — first published when Shelley was only eighteen — combines adolescent vigour and literary panache with occasional sparks of true poetic genius.

Shelley's vivid love story dramatises the misplaced passion between
Paperback, 117 pages
Published November 1st 2002 by Hesperus Press (first published 1810)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Zastrozzi, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Zastrozzi

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  213 ratings  ·  39 reviews

More filters
Sort order
so i only read this because it was short and i knew i would be buying the new sarah waters book today (!) and i just wanted something to fill the gap until i could dive into ms waters.(twss) and it was fine. its full of swooning and wasting away over love and treachery and pining and villainy and hidden motives and poison and blah blah blah. its a gothic novel, to say it in two words. it seems to start in the middle of something that is happening and never explained...why is he so sleepy?? someo ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
This Gothic novella tells the story of a masterfully executed horrific revenge which the titular character carries out against two innocent victims with the help of his partner in crime, Matilda, who blinded by her passionate obsession to one of the victims, fails to see the true motive of Zastrozzi.

This work is said to be the first prosaic endeavor by Shelley. And while Shelley is one of the most renowned Romantic poets of the time and to-date, I found his prose to be lacking the colour which
Percy Bysshe Selley surely did not have a night of good rest when he started to write Zastrozzi. Exploiting the vogue of Gothic novels/romances that raged between the second half of the 18th and second half of the 19th centuries, his attempt was not quite as successful as that of the other authors... Certainly, there are the evil antagonists, bad to the core, each of them pursuing their different goals, and the (good) protagonists cannot but fall victims to their machinations. Throw in an Italia ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The most underrated book in the world, absolutely amazing read, I consider it my new favourite book. I just wish Shelley had wrote more Novellas.
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romanticism
Every gothic novel I have read so far has seemed like a parody of itself. This said, and although it feels like Shelley took different gothic elements from different novels and patched them all together in here, they form a a well written (nice descriptions, good atmosphere- would have needed some editing, for he repeats certain phrases: humane physician, strained eyeballs- a lot) total. The ending was (seeexiiist) very good, even satisfactory. YES ZASTROZZI!
Carl Savich
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I would highly recommend the Gothic novel Zastrozzi (1810) by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is a novel about obsession and a Promethean character, Zastrozzi, who seeks to transcend all morality and values, a Gothic Prometheus. The Hesperus Classics edition features a preface by Germaine Greer. She presents a good analysis of the plot but completely overlooks the themes of the novel. She even misspells the title of Shelley's second Gothic novel as St. Irvine. St. Irvyne (1811) is about an alchemist or ...more
Jul 25, 2012 is currently reading it
Only part way through this one, and I have to admit, I am killing myself laughing over it. It is so, so, so deliciously ghastly. I would like to make the excuse that he did only write it in his late teens--but then, didn't Mary write Frankenstein around the same age? Oh, Shelley, Shelley.... You are a brilliant man. Really. But....leave the prose work to your wife, okay?
Sep 10, 2014 rated it did not like it
This juvenile tarradiddle would have been totally forgotten by now if it hadn't been written by Shelley. Repetitive, confusing, overblown - it's not even a good example of Gothic writing. I doubt if PBS would have wanted to be remembered for this.
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green. - Francis Bacon

Zastrozzi, A Romance was first published in 1810 with only the author's initials "P.B.S." on its title page. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote it when he was seventeen while at Eton College. it was the first of Shelley's two early Gothic novels and considered to be his first published prose work as well.
i like Shelley's writing. he is certainly one of the finest lyric poets in the English language and his poetic side shines through
Oct 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, classic, europe
I don't think I have any right to criticize anything written by Percy Shelley, which makes this a difficult review to write. Wait, that makes it sound as if there are several things wrong with this book. That's not true. My only little, tiny, bitty, insignificant mention of an imperfection, was that sometimes there was a tad too much repetition in regards to word choice. That's it. There.

Other than that, I really liked reading it. The ending was rather boss as well. I did not anticipate one of t
Everett Darling
Feb 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: gothic, shelley, italy
Three stars is really too many for this adolexcent effort of PBS. But I can't help but enjoy its derivitive nature, from Cahrlotte D'Acre especially, which shows how the romantic Gothic novel influenced Shelley to a large degree.
Jan 22, 2008 marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
I like when I find a book that I have never heard of by a classical author that I like. It's like getting an extra Christmas scheduled in the year.
Feb 10, 2016 added it
Shelves: dnf, exams-read
I'm going to have to go back and finish it because exams, but man Shelley is intolerable.
I thought “Z” might be one of the more difficult letters to cover for the classics challenge but it wasn’t. I wanted to read something actually written by Percy Bysshe Shelley since I’ve read a bit about him and his famous wife, Mary Shelley lately. I already read her Frankenstein a few years ago, for a university class, and it ended up being one of my favorite books. I have another of Percy Shelley’s books on my shelf but I wanted to start with this novella since it fit my classics reading chal ...more
Pete daPixie
Mar 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelley's name is what caused me to sample this novella. Germaine Greer's Foreword informs that this publication in 1810 was deplored by The Critical Review:-'The story itself, and the style in which it is told, are so truly contemptible'.
Some two hundred years later, my review:-The story itself, and the style in which it is told, are so truly out dated and flowery it was a relief to reach the end of this Gothic tale. Not for me!
Stephen Ring
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Read this book for The Romantic Novel university course I am taking. Written when Shelley was seventeen, it is lurid, horrific and not the most well polished work I have read. It reeks with the various Gothic elements with limited character development and entire explanation of the questions raised throughout resolved on the last page in a final confession as to motive.
Stephanie Molnar
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Verezzi is a weenie but I still wanted him to be with Matilda. His ceaseless whining about how perfect Julia is grated on my nerves and I hoped she actually was dead. One of the only stories where I wanted the "bad guys" to win.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gothic
I enjoy Shelley’s poetry, especially his political pieces. This gothic piece is not up to his other work nor can it compare to Ann Radcliffe, or even Matthew Lewis. It was a very early in piece (he was only 17 when he wrote it) but if you want Shelley or want Gothic, look elsewhere.
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Unless I am mistaken, this was his first try in writing a novel. Not a bad one, but nothing extraordinary.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Hard to read this novel of revenge-- Frankenstein SO much better. Had to read this as part of a course on Frankenstein and it does help you appreciate a good Gothic novel (Frankenstein) after reading this one.
Signor Mambrino
Nov 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved Zastrozzi. Such a great story and character. St. Irvyne was a little disappointing. I wrote a longer review on my site if you're interested.
Grace Harwood
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an early work from Percy Bysshe Shelley: it borrows heavily from other sources (namely Radcliffe's Udolpho and Dacre's Zofloya), doesn't flow that well, has missing chapters (allegedly a "joke" on Shelley's part), and, in other words, is a flawed work - but what you can't get away from is the undeniable genius of the writer. Who else but Shelley could get away with phrases like "frigorific torpidity of despair". This is a brilliant, brilliant short gothic novel which sits somewhere betwe ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: english
More people should write novels at the age of eighteen - it offers extremely curious insight into one's character. Young Shelley's diction is endearingly repetitive and predictable, and yet the story is bold and expressive, employing a vocabulary far more massive than most eighteen-year-olds in the business, I dare say. Verezzi tends to swoon and faint more often than a Victorian heroine, and the characters seem to lack real depth in many instances, and yet, the unmistakable Gothic element is, o ...more
Shelley wrote this when he was 18 and his youth is obvious in every sentence. The words 'bosom' and 'breast' were mentioned on practically every page. Many other words and phrases were repeated many times, which got very annoying after a while. Not only the style is immature, the story itself is totally ridiculous. It's like the world's best parody of a gothic story - unfortunately though, I think this novel was meant to be taken seriously. So many verbose descriptions of the scenery and castles ...more
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classics, horror, gothic
You can definitely tell that this is Percy Shelley’s first published work. There are elements of skill peeking through, but overall Zastrozzi is a bit of a mess. It’s not coherent; the characters aren’t well-imagined in the least, and the plot is muddled. I really wanted to like this – especially after I picked it up in my university bookshop for £3 – but it just didn’t grab me in the least.

I’m definitely going to delve into more of Percy Shelley’s work – I love gothic fiction, it’s one of my fa
Suzie Grogan
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
To say anything by Shelley is 'OK' seems peculiar but as the next option up is 'I liked it' there is little option. I read this for a book group and found it poorly plotted, repetitive and overwrought.Shelley seems barely to recognise his reader is there. However - I wanted to know what happened at the end, Zastrozzi is a demon and there are glimpses of the genius Shelley showed as poet. Sometimes. He is still a distant second to Keats in my view and this short novel would do nothing to change m ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Two novellas put Shelley, then 18 years old, to the test. The finer of the pair, St. Irvyne, is unfinished save two brief paragraphs he appended for his publisher. Zastrozzi has an ending but also feels unfinished.

The same themes run through both Gothic romances - male loners who are abandoned by the world, fair maidens who are exploited, shadowy figures with mysterious motives persecuting them. Castles, barren landscapes, walls of granite, potions with poisons, suicidal tendencies, etc.

Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Zastrozzi starts off promising. Mysterious abductions, dank dungeons, and dangerous obsessions abound in the preliminary chapters, drawing the reader into a tale that begins in medias res. Unfortunately, that early tone quickly gives way to repetitive descriptions of internal states and raging passions that tested my patience throughout the bulk of the book. The last couple of chapters return some of the tension and grotesquerie just in time for the whole thing to end as abruptly as it began
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, average rating. I'm reading this sheerly because I am curious about Shelley's early writing. Fascinating to think he wrote these at such a young age. This book is 'of the time,' i.e. tropes, themes, but I'm curious to see what he does with the form, if anything.
« previous 1 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Keats-Shelley Boo...: Zazza-Zoom 23 30 Nov 10, 2013 03:28AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Nightmare Abbey; Crotchet Castle
  • The Midnight Bell
  • Zofloya
  • Glenarvon
  • The Orphan of the Rhine
  • The Castle of Wolfenbach: A German Story
  • The Wyvern Mystery
  • The Necromancer, or The Tale of the Black Forest
  • Clermont
  • Shelley: The Pursuit
  • The Doings of Raffles Haw
  • Millenium Hall
  • The Magic Ring
  • Manfred
  • The Wild Irish Girl: A National Tale
  • Ourika
  • The Dream Woman: A Mystery in Four Narratives
  • Castle Eppstein
See similar books…
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is widely considered to be among the finest lyric poets of the English language. He is perhaps most famous for such anthology pieces as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and The Masque of Anarchy. However, his major works were long visionary poems including Alastor, Adonais, The Revolt of Islam, Prometheus Unbound a ...more