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Article: Horrid gothic tales courtesy of Isabella Thorpe!

Horrid gothic tales courtesy of Isabella Thorpe! -

Horrid gothic tales courtesy of Isabella Thorpe!

Horrid gothic tales courtesy of Isabella Thorpe!

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

- Northanger Abbey

With the nights growing longer and most of us simply in denial that we can go on any longer without switching on the heating, it's an excellent time to cosy up with a book. Hallowe'en being on the horizon, a Gothic novel is the thing, and where better to find a good recommendation of a thrilling spooky tale than within the pages of Northanger Abbey. Indeed, Isabella Thorpe provides us with a whole list of books to dig into, so I thought I'd dig in and find out a little more about her suggested reading.

CAUTION: These tales may cause you to become unreasonably suspicious of your future in-laws.

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

What is behind that mysterious black veil? In this quintessential gothic novel, our hero, the orphaned and very beautiful Emily St. Aubert, is shipped off to her aunt and villainous uncle, the Italian nobleman Montoni. Set between France and Italy, this novel is perfect if you're looking for crumbling castles and a heroine to get behind.

The Castle of Wolfenbach and The Mysterious Warning, by Eliza Parsons

A murderous Count? Check. Obviously haunted castle? Check. In Wolfenbach our heroine Matilda escapes her lecherous uncle, but danger is still around every corner. 

In The Mysterious Warning, Ferdinand has been disinherited by his father for marrying against his wishes, leaving his fortune to Ferdinand's brother Rhodophil. In the middle of the night, a mysterious voice comes to Ferdinand, warning him to flee his wife and brother, and so he does, encountering many strange characters and places on his travels.

Clermont by Regina Marina Roche

Madeline lives in seclusion with her father, Clermont. That is, until they are visited by the mysterious Countess, and her father's mysterious past begins to unravel. Traveling with the Countess, Madeline begins to discover the truth about her noble roots.

The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest by Ludwig Flammenberg

The Necromancer follows Hermann and Helfried in a series of tales centring around the bizarre Volkert the Necromancer, a wizard risen from the dead. Hermann and Helfried, two old university friends, go on a series of adventures around the Black Forest, with many spooky occurences happening along the way.

The Midnight Bell by Francis Lathom

Another villainous uncle? This certainly does seem to be a theme. Alphonsus has had his estates and identity stolen after the death of his parents, and is on a mission to get it back.

The Orphan of the Rhine by Eleanor Sleath

Orphaned, heroine Julie de Rubin is living as a recluse with her son Enrico. One day, she is visited by the Marchese of Montferrat, who offers to look after both Julie and her son, in exchange for her caring for the orphan Laurette. As they grow, the two children fall in love, but the villainous Marchese is always lurking, prepared to ruin everything.

The Horrid Mysteries by Carl Grosse

Murder and mayhem! The Marquis of Grosse finds himself fallen in with a secret society which advocates for a very chaotic way of life. Truly horrible, this grim tale hasn't received such glowing reviews, with H.P. Lovecraft describing it as "trash." Oh dear, oh dear.

Of course, if none of these are to your taste, you can always get a trusty Jane Austen novel from our gift shop.



I have read Udolpho some time ago, based on it being mentioned in the book. I also ended up reading Jim Thorpe’s favorite The Monk. It was quite horrible really. I can see why it was so scandalous back then.


I quite interested in The castle of Wolfenberg, Clermont and The Orphan of the Rhine. I got all the novels by Ann Radcliffe. Maybe one day ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ might become a tv series.

Lucy Wall

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