Sources presumably include Shakespeare's Hamlet, and The Winter's Tale, also set partially in Sicily and involving a young heroine escaping from a cruel father who has allegedly killed his wife (lots of characters appear lifeless only to be revived much later, a bit like in Candide). Other obvious sources are The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole and The Monk by Matthew Lewis. There are hints of Cinderella and Snow White. But there is also the thought that this story may have helped to influence details in The Count of Monte Cristo and that spiral staircase reminded me of a scene in Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stephenson.
The first half is tight but the second half feels a bit padded as the characters are moved onto the stage in a variety of combinations and the action flits from scene to scene with no obvious plot development.
There are some great lines:
- "Joy is as restless as anxiety or sorrow." (Ch II)
- "in order to have due command of our passions it is necessary to subject them to early obedience." (Ch II)
- "A young Italian cavalier ... who possessed too much of the spirit of gallantry to permit a lady to languish in vain." (Ch VI)
- "When once we enter on the labyrinth of vice, we can seldom return, but are led on, through correspondent mazes, to destruction." (Ch XV)
A really enjoyable Gothic romp with lots and lots of liminality.
June 2016; 199 pages