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The Castle of Otranto


Horace Walpole

The Castle of Otranto
average rating is 2 out of 5

Gothic, Fantasy, Classics

R. Alex Jenkins

Written in 1764, you would never guess it.

Sarcasm aside, it's a real clanger!

I don't very easily DNF books but at 50% I was bored out of my wits!

This is the supposed father of gothic literature: set in a castle, howling in the battlements, damsels in distress and all the medieval checkboxes safely ticked away, but wow, what a boring read!

To be fair to Horace Walpole, the book wasn't actually written by him - it's a translation! - and he did a professional job of successfully interpreting the Italian text. At least that's what I gathered from the intro!

Otranto is set in an era when rulers had too much power and could treat their wives like objects - away to the cloisters m'lady and consider yourself well and truly divorced while I beget myself a tasty new lass. Multiple times. Ancient and chauvinistic are the most horrifying aspects of this book.

I have no idea what to make of the fantastical 'horror' elements either? Gigantic helmets, swords and boots! There must be a jolly giant hiding away in the belfry? Characters spend more time throwing indignant fits than fighting any terror.

Romeo and Juliet gone all wrong with angry randy viscounts.

I read this book to better acquaint myself with gothic horror and its history. There are allusions to Don Quixote (there's something weirdly pompous about it). Carmilla/Dracula. Edgar Allan Poe. Henry VIII and his misogynistic hips. Shirley Jackson (who is great). This is the epitome of gothnicity (I made that word up BTW) but dour to read.

Gothic literature had to start somewhere and here it is, but you don't need to go there and make the same mistake as me.

A really good book for getting back to sleep in the early hours of the morning. I slept like a rock!

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