‘The Castle of Athlin and Dunbayne: A highland story’ by Ann Radcliffe – 4 stars!


Baron Malcom of Dunbayne Castle kills the Earl of Aithlin and their clans become sworn enemies. A tale of intrigue ensues when the new Earl Osbert, comes of age and is desperate to avenge is fathers’ death. His mother has been attempting to stop this from occurring in order to prevent losing a son as well as a husband. The villain of the piece, Malcom, (you will love to hate him) desires nothing more than to kill Osbert too. Of course there is a romantic element to this tale and Alleyn, a brave highlander falls for a woman far above him, Osbert’s sister Mary. Though Alleyn tries to hide his attraction to Mary it ultimately brings trouble for him. Follow the journey of those who seek revenge, honour, justice, and ultimately love. 


Do you like thrilling tales bursting with adventure, sword fighting heroes and of course great escapes with both virtuous and villainous characters? Then my friend, you have come to the right place! Radcliffe is the champion of the gothic novel and she establishes credibility for the genre. She is the master of creating suspense and terror and she empowers women within the genre. Here we glimpse elements and themes, which are fully established in her later works such as The Italian or The Mysteries of Udulpho. 

Louis’ book of the month!

Published in 1789, ‘The Castle of Athlin and Dunbayne’ is Radcliffe’s first work and it introduces themes, which will be explored further in her later work. Set during the Middle Ages in the highlands, she uses the Scottish landscape and ruined castles to her advantage to create a rather spectacular tale, which uses descriptions of both the landscape and nature to create the atmosphere of a gothic novel with which we are so familiar with today. Whether it has foundations in revenge or desire, be it the villain or hero, the driving force of this novel is passion. I would highly recommend this action filled, adventure story with its clan feuds, heroism and some pretty fabulous sword fighting and escape attempts. I was so engrossed in the story and felt the characters plights as if they were my own; I was intrigued and entertained throughout!