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Extended Audio Sample The Castle of Otranto Audiobook, by Horace Walpole Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.19 out of 53.19 out of 53.19 out of 53.19 out of 53.19 out of 5 3.19 (52 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Horace Walpole Narrator: Tony Jay Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455184514
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On the day of his wedding, Conrad, heir to the house of Otranto, is killed under 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 1765, The Castle of Otranto purported to be an ancient Italian text from the time of the crusades and 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Narrator Tony Jay’s deep, resonant voice is perfectly suited to the gothic trappings of this romance. His subtle characterizations, including a deft handling of the three women at the heart of the story, make the dialogue easy to follow. For best results, listen to this recording in a cold, damp dungeon.”

    AudioFile

  • “In reviving this largely forgotten tale in audio format, Blackstone deserves credit for recognizing that it—like any classic ghost story—is at its best when read well out loud. Jay’s sonorous, menacing voice and expressive, fast paced performance so heighten the aura of evil that listeners can easily focus on the action.”

    Kliatt

  • “The merging of romance and realist conventions into a form which would later be designated ‘Gothic’ inspired several subsequent generations of writers.”

    Oxford University Press

  • “To The Castle Otranto we owe nothing less than a revolution in public taste, and its influence is strong even at present day.”

    Montague Summers, author of The Gothic Quest

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karine | 2/20/2014

    " This is a entertaining early gothic novel with the depth of a fairy tale: innocent, young virgin princesses protected by a heroic young "peasant" with noble blood from the villian lord of the castle. It's more interesting as the beginning of a genre than for the depth (or lack there of) of its characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Callista | 2/19/2014

    " This is apparently the origin of the eyes-looking-out-through paintings gag. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Yousra Bushehri | 2/18/2014

    " I don't know. I was expecting more from this book, but it was just too ridiculous and boring (compared to all the things I'd heard about Gothic books). But yeah, definitely not a book I'll be reading again. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Zena V. | 2/6/2014

    " I think this book started something I didn't expect, more so an interest in horror fiction that I forgot about because I was too busy trying to be smart. Its marked as the first gothic novel written, and has a pretty neat history. T'is quite good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 2/4/2014

    " First written in the 1500's! A tragic tale of love, castles, giants, ghosts and murder! The moral is the old time "the sins of the fathers". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Oliver | 2/4/2014

    " The ultimate gothic novel. Fuck Steven King.. kill the lights, light a match and read this shit until the shadows on the walls become phantasms. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katherine Morris | 1/23/2014

    " The original Gothic novel. It's bizarre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shanna | 1/20/2014

    " Really slow build up to an amazing twisted conclusion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauri Sim | 1/16/2014

    " Somewhat difficult to decipher in places due to its grammatical structure, but none the less one of the key books which kick started the gothic horror genre, and deserves its praise. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Renee | 1/14/2014

    " Delicious little Gothic/soap opera romp of a book. Very Dark Shadows meets Days of Our Lives. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James R. Metcalf | 1/2/2014

    " While a little silly, it was interesting to see where the Gothic novel came from. It was short, and pleasingly so, but also quite refreshing in its sincerely drawn characters. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rick Toews | 12/22/2013

    " I liked the vocabulary usage, and the writing style was at times interesting. However, on the whole, this isn't what I was looking for in the novel. Perhaps I was mistaken in believing the "gothic novel" genre answered the taste I was attempting to gratify. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin Lucia | 12/20/2013

    " Interesting. More a Gothic romance, and the supernatural elements are very much an aside. Will talk more in a month on my next podcast at Tales to Terrify. Check out my introductory podcast for Horror 101. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Joey | 12/14/2013

    " Most notable because it is the first Gothic novel; least notable because it is the worst Gothic novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mackenzie | 11/4/2013

    " Overall, I felt this was a good book. A bit difficult to read at times and very hectic plot. But a great start to a beautiful genre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ivana | 10/21/2013

    " A must to read if one wants to familiarize with Gothic literature. ( as far as I know it is considered the first Gothic novel) One warning though,it's full of cliches. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erika S | 8/26/2013

    " A homosexual Gothic novel? No way, seriously? Yes, way. The book opens with a guy getting crushed by a giant helmet. Way cool. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Shauna | 7/23/2013

    " Mainly of interest to people curious what was considered an appealing read two hundred years ago. Cardboard characters. Purposeless dialog. This is a short story padded out to novel length. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amaris | 7/8/2013

    " For the first book in the genre it was really good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pat | 5/30/2013

    " What fun! This is an excellent edition, would that all editions for scholars were so well put together. Franks edifys without stultifying. Oh crap now I have to read something more mundane so my language returns to normal. Enjoy!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Philip Lane | 5/20/2013

    " A bit tongue in cheek, rather like a Hammer horror movie. It moves at a good pace and is relatively short. Not to be taken too seriously. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 skein | 5/14/2013

    " Mediocre horror or slapstick comedy? Walpole aptly demonstrates that the distance between the poles is not nearly as far as your college lit professor (and Twilight) would have you believe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mandy Jones | 5/8/2013

    " One of the true SCARY Gothic novels. I love the feel of it, you can almost smell the musty old castle. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie Killilea | 3/5/2013

    " Best gothic novel I ever read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 2/2/2013

    " This novella was a RIOT! Everything was so overly melodramatic it was enormously entertaining. The prose was a little hard to adjust to -- think classic, flowery language -- but once you were in, it wasn't too hard to follow. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa Cook | 1/16/2013

    " I read this for a British Gothic Lit class. It was the first gothic novel ever written, and while it's not fantastic, it deserves credit for starting an entire genre. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mel | 11/28/2012

    " It's the first in the gothic tradition. Not the best, but worth reading simply for the sake of posterity. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mackenzie | 11/19/2012

    " Overall, I felt this was a good book. A bit difficult to read at times and very hectic plot. But a great start to a beautiful genre. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Denae | 11/8/2012

    " Except for the rather unsatisfying ending, it was a great book. Even the ending wasn't bad, just not as happy as I like (what is it with long-ago authors determined to kill half their characters?). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caroline | 9/19/2012

    " This is a short one, but for what it lacks in page length it more than makes up in swooning and melodrama! The grandfather of gothic novels - perfect for a rainy day when you are locked up in the house! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Florencia | 7/7/2012

    " Interesting, but not that fun to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin Bean | 5/20/2012

    " Very quick, very entertaining read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wyrmia | 5/1/2012

    " You should read it because it's the first gothic novel, just don't expect it to be good. It is rather amusing in it's badness, however. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tocotin | 4/3/2012

    " Well... this one is no Udolpho. There is nothing but melodrama and all the characters are basically alike, with one exception of Bianca the servant. I understand the book's significance in the English literary history (that's why I read it), but I expected it to be a bit more fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 nacchi | 11/13/2011

    " Better than I expected it to be :) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margie | 11/8/2011

    " Full of melodrama and resembled a Greek tragedy. I enjoyed it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jamie | 10/14/2011

    " Great story. but Warning. Massive sexism alert! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Cat | 10/11/2011

    " I hated this book- also it's like 100 pages long. There are no paragraphs! It makes reading this book particularly exasperating. I guess this is supposed to be the first gothic novel. Bo-ring. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen Dixon | 9/8/2011

    " I don't know quite how to classify this in my own bookshelves. It's a work of its time, and no doubt if I'd read it 200 years ago I would have thought it a ripping good yarn. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roberta | 6/14/2011

    " Wowza! What a great little weekend read. Fast paced and written with words that made me pull out the dictionary a few times, still it held my attention throughout the whole read. I'd tell anyone to try this book out at least once. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 amy | 5/22/2011

    " This was a pretty silly book that contributed to the development of gothic literature. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maggie | 5/21/2011

    " I'm reading this for a grad course and SOOOO enjoying it. I highly recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Drucilla | 5/20/2011

    " For this review I feel like I should just copy and paste my thesis into it. :P If you love gothic works, you owe it to yourself to read the first self proclaimed gothic novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Samantha | 4/25/2011

    " My first excursion into the Gothic genre, it was a very entertaining read, with some character depth. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pola | 4/23/2011

    " I really liked the book.. the fictitious elements and the fact that it was a fast paced story made the book appealing to me.. recommend it to those who like books belonging to the gothic genre.. I think it is one of the fundamental gothic books.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 3/16/2011

    " Marvellous! A delicious read full of melodrama and morals from 1764; a discourse on the dangers of ambition; a supernatural revenge tale. What more could you ask for? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurel | 2/27/2011

    " Very short, over-wrought supernatural thriller written in the 18th century. Glad to know people enjoyed trashy reading then, too! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Athanark | 2/25/2011

    " Bastante interesante pese a que no es una historia tan larga. Obscuro, misterioso, con muy buenos personajes! "

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About the Author
Author Horace Walpole

Horace Walpole (1717–1797), was educated at Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, and then spent several years in politics. In 1757, he established a private printing press at Strawberry Hill, his home in Twickenham. There he published his own works as well as those of other authors. Upon his death, he held the title of Earl of Oxford.

About the Narrator

Tony Jay Born in London, England.Now an American citizen, residing in the U.S. since 1987.Married with one 16 year-old boy.Veteran of stage, television, film and radio.Former Royal Shakespeare Company actor.Appeared in that company’s production of “Nicholas Nickelby”, at Stratford-upon-Avon, Los Angeles and Broadway in 1986.(Nominated NY Drama Desk Award).Films include: “Twins”  with Arnold Schwartzenegger and Danny de Vito, “Love and Death” with Woody Allen, “My Stepmother Is An Alien” with Kim Basinger and Dan Aykroyd.Television credits include:  “Golden Girls”, “Murphy Brown”, “Newhart”, “Beauty and the Beast”, “Lois & Clark”, “Picket Fences” (Nominated Emmy Award).Recognized internationally for his voice work in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Judge Frollo), “Jungle Book 2” (Shere Kahn), The Magic Mirror in the DVD presentation of “Snow White”.  Plus innumerable commercials radio and TV, narrations for the History Channle and A & E., countless animated series, such as “Mighty Max” , “Tale Spin”, “Rugrats”, “Invasion America”.His voice is also heard in Disney Theme Parks around the world.He has also released a CD entitled “ Tony Jay….Speaking of Broadway”, in which he recites the great lyrics from the golden era of the Broadway musical.