The Castle of Otranto

Murders. Giants. Ghosts. Necromancy. Mysticism. True love lost and parental love rediscovered. Sword fights. Daring escapes. This book has it all. It’s considered the first gothic novel and has influenced art, movies, and more.

Danger: Spoiler Alerts … This work is not one that most will pick up for casual reading. In some ways, it’s depressing. The prince dies on the eve of his wedding. The king mistakingly kills his own daughter. A long lost son reappears and finds his father who has become a monk. A daughter finds her long lost father only to watch him die from a sword fight.

This book, published on Christmas Eve 1764, shares a deeper insight into the life of medieval times blended with a terror of spiritualism and paranoia. Relationships are messy and parents are often more concerned about their own needs to the spite of their kids needs. Not much has changed.

A supernaturally enlarged helmet falls on and kills the prince.

The opening scene has a magically appearing, enlarged helmet, or casque, fall on the prince and killing him on the eve of his wedding. Thus the first in a long line of events where the Lord thwarts the lord of the castle’s plans to seal his authority and power.

So, why are you still reading this and what does have to do with us in 2020? I mean I rarely do book reviews, especially reviews of an obscure book over 230 years old.

This book delves into the lives of the characters. Some are honorable, some are not. Some seek Godly wisdom, some plan evil mischief. Some or selfish, even diabolically so. Others are selfless and humble. We see this today as well so many types of people. And in all this each has their own plans, their own end in mind. But the best laid plans of mice and men … or as an old saying goes ….

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish adage meaning, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”

I find myself way too often making my plans and not considering God’s desires or ways. I plan and then get upset when it doesn’t happen – not even considering maybe God didn’t want that in my life. I am not talking fatalism or apathy, I think maybe we should just take serious of letting Hum direct our paths.

For when we walk in His ways and follow His direction, it doesn’t mean life will be easy … but it does mean we are headed in the right direction. And that’s the direction I want to be headed.

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