The Castle of Otranto, Paperback
3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


On the day of his wedding, Conrad, heir to the house of Otranto, is killed in mysterious circumstances.

His calculating father Manfred fears that his dynasty will now come to an end and determines to marry his son's bride himself despite the fact he is already married.

But a series of terrifying supernatural omens soon threaten this unlawful union, as the curse placed on Manfred's ancestor, who usurped the lawful Prince of Otranto, begins to unfold.

First published pseudonymously in 1764, purporting to be an ancient Italian text from the time of the crusades, The Castle of Otranto is a founding work of Gothic fiction.

With its compelling blend of sinister portents, tempestuous passions and ghostly visitations, it spawned an entire literary tradition and influenced such writers as Ann Radcliffe and Bram Stoker.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages, chronology, further reading, notes
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780140437676



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Granting that this book has an important place in popular literature; granting that it influenced 'Gothic' writing for decades, and that its echoes can be heard today, granting all this, unless this is assigned to you in some class, don't waste your time. I have read other early Gothic novels, The Monk, Melmoth the Wanderer, Frankenstein, etc., and crude as they were they were light years ahead of Otranto. Spare yourself. Two stars for its historical curiosity, nothing else.

Review by

Brilliantly original at the time of its publication in the eighteenth century, The Castle of Otranto is distinguished as being the first work of Gothic fiction. It has always been the recipient of mixed reviews. It’s worth bearing in mind the enormous fun Horace Walpole had in writing the novel; the humor in it seems sadly lost on many readers and critics. It is at once thrilling, funny and puzzling but remains a joy to read in the twenty first century. I recommend the Penguin Classics edition which contains sufficient notes and supplementary text necessary for a proper appreciation of the work.