Are you scared? Thank Horace.

Horace Walpole: the father of horror!

Horace Walpole (1717-1797) is generally considered to be the father of horror novels.

Interesting as he looks so handsome and a bit like the modern Sherlock Holmes as played by Benedict Cumberbatch (who is also diabolical and handsome, IMHO, but I digress….):

Horace is generally believed to have penned the first horror novel, The Castle of Otranto.

Benedict Cumberbatch: the Horace Walpole doppelgänger.

PLOT:

The Castle of Otranto tells the story of Manfred, lord of the castle, and his family. The book begins on the wedding-day of his sickly son Conrad and princess Isabella. Shortly before the wedding, however, Conrad is crushed to death by a gigantic helmet that falls on him from above.

This inexplicable event is particularly ominous in light of an ancient prophecy, “…that the castle and lordship of Otranto should pass from the present family, whenever the real owner should be grown too large to inhabit it.” Manfred, terrified that Conrad’s death signals the beginning of the end for his line, resolves to avert destruction by marrying Isabella himself, while divorcing his current wife, Hippolita, who he feels has failed to bear him a proper heir due to the sickly condition of Conrad before his untimely death. However, as Manfred attempts to marry Isabella…

The Castle of Otranto: Title page to the third edition (circa 1776).

Crushed by a huge helmet… just the first in a series of mysterious and terrible occurrences that befall the characters in this book. And that is all we’re willing to tell you, after all, Horace deserves to still sell a few copies. Or check your local library.

For those of you who love horror, but like it a bit more modern, we have two great books coming out this year: a collection of short stories from Samsara: The Magazine of Suffering publisher R. David Fulcher, and Halloween Party 2021, a collection of horror short stories and poems by a terrifying crew that includes Fulcher, Dutton (who is currently serializing a pretty creepy novel on his blog, free!), Golladay, Giunta, and Brown, among many others.

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