Sesana's Reviews > Vathek

Vathek by William Beckford
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's review
Mar 25, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, gothic, historical-fiction, horror, magic, monsters, weird

What a bizarre book. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I didn't hate it. The title character is a generically Arabian sultan who enters into a deal with a djinn that ends as well as one might expect. Which is to say, not at all. Vathek's descent is told in loosely connected episodes, with some very surreal scenes included. Incredibly odd plot aside, it's actually written fairly well. Miles better than The Castle of Otranto, at least. It's delightfully over the top, of course, but not to the point of being pure cheese. And although the plot is weird and confusing, at least there's a distinct theme holding it all together. Individual parts of the story would be very much at home in The Arabian Nights. I'm surprised that this is far less known than The Castle of Otranto, because it's actually much better. And I do realize that isn't saying much.
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message 1: by Stephen (new)

Stephen This looks interesting. Nice review, Sesana.

Sesana Thanks! I really am surprised that Vathek isn't better known, but I suppose it might have something to do with the Arabian Nights style theme being pretty much out of fashion for about a century or so.

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