Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Book Review – The Castle of Otranto by Horatio Walpole

I have always avoided Gothic horror. I have never quite been able to suspend disbelief enough to appreciated the story. And when Gothic horror is done badly suspending disbelief is the more difficult. I gave Horatio Walpole's novel The Castle of Otranto (1764) a try a largely because it was short and it was a well known eighteenth century work that had influenced the birth of genre – and, possibly, the British novel itself.

To my amazement I enjoyed it. The story is more like a Greek tragedy only with ghosts influencing the action rather then gods. In fact the fantastic element do not intrude as much as I expected or feared. The Gothic horror elements as just there to prod the characters in the direction of the rightful ruler. The King with the honourable blood line is the only one who can bring peace and prosperity to the land. Ghosts must never have heard of democracy! and getting rid of Kings and rulers altogether is never considered a possibility.

This book was an enjoyable and easy read. So it's well worth giving it a go.

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