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The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey Paperback – August 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: zittaw press (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976721287
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976721284
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,089,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Zimmerman on October 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am filled with gratitude for Zittaw Press and Valancourt Books, the two small presses that are bringing back to us the wonderful gothic novels that were all the rage in popular literature 200 years ago. Fantasy and horror connoisseurs now have access to those exotic and tantalizing titles that they never would have had a hope of tracking down just two years ago. To date I have finished reading five of them, and you know what? They're good!

Mrs. Carver's Horrors of Oakendale Abbey has been been one of the more enjoyable reads. This is the story of the lovely Laura, a foundling forced to flee Revolutionary France during the Reign of Terror when her foster father's severed head is found mounted on a stake outside the family home. In the confusion of emigrating to the coast of Wales she becomes separated from her foster mother, and while wandering along the shore in her forlorn state she is discovered by the aristocratic sensualist Lord Oakendale. He wisks her off to his London mansion where she resists his efforts to seduce her. In order to place her in an even more desparate situation, he sends her away to live in the vast, ancient, abandoned, and reputedly haunted Oakendale Abbey in Cumberland. His theory is that after being subjected to the horrors of solitude in this loathsome setting, she will rush into his arms and gladly accept the least odious of her disagreeable choices.

The rural Oakendale Abbey is the site of very real horrors. Laura (an unusually spirited protagonist) encounters skeletons and hanging bodies during her explorations of the Abbey that are real and not just figments as is the case in the more genteel gothic romances.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By K. REEVES on July 26, 2009
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This is a fun read, but why o why did the editor choose to smother the text with his irritating, banal footnotes? It's kind of ironic that his introduction goes on and on about female gothic, etc., etc., and then Herr attempts to appropriate the reader's experience of the story by dragging his or her eye to the bottom of altogether too many pages for his rather undergrad observations. For the next edition, please consider endnotes.

For those who think I'm being unfair to this brilliant editor, here's an example of what I consider to be utterly unnecessary footnoting by an editor who's in love with his own voice. Mrs. Carver, at p. 41:

"All these relations, when repeated in the morning to Laura, she treated as idle chimeras of a fearful apprehension; declaring she had never in her life slept better, and that it was her fixed resolution to explore every part of the Abbey before the ensuing night."

And the immediately following footnote by Mr. Herr:

""Where all others fear and dread the Abbey, Laura desires to expose 'every part' of it. She intuitively understands the need to explore her world."

Erm. Does a halfway intelligent reader need to be informed that the heroine understands the need to explore her world?

Along the same lines, Mr. Herr defines "enervate" for the reader. (P. 55, fn 16.)

This reader did not require and does not appreciate that service, well-intended as it may have been.

And, on page 155, Mrs.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ibsen Freak on September 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful old gothic novel. Although it pre-dates Poe, it is a lot like Fall of the House of Usher, only more descriptively violent and believe it or not, a little more twisted! The novel features finely detailed gothic atmosphere, a wonderfully descriptive narrative, and a huge Gothic Abbey- lonely, abandoned, and filled with dark, endless cobwebbed halls. The descriptions of the Abbey make it a character as rich as any human- living or dead! Mrs. Carver's prose is highly descriptive. Her heroine's stay in the haunted old abbey is filled with minute imagery- great psychological insight- and some really freaky events! Classic Gothic novels are making a comeback. Buy it and dive into a great old book! ...but keep the lights on, this one sneeks up on you!
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That quote is from the introduction, which should be read after the book, since it gives the plot away. But do read it. The editor offers daring interpretations of the novel, drawn from folklore and Jungian psychology.

Oakendale Abbey is a totally readable, enjoyable Gothic that plunges the reader into the story without delays or poetic effusions. Beautiful young Laura arrives suddenly at ruined old Oakendale Abbey. Ghostly noises and gruesome apparitions have successfully kept visitors and villagers at bay for generations. But Laura is being forced to reside there until the gloomy rooms and isolated situation break her spirit.

Rich, haughty, handsome Lord Oakendale wants to make Laura his mistress, but although a friendless orphan, she's staunchly resisting him.

Laura has a fascinating back-story carrying her, as a lost child, from the East Indies to France to England. And she's in love with a young man (Eugene) whose parentage is also veiled in mystery. These personal histories combine with the horrid proceedings at Oakendale Abbey to make for an eventful plot.

Oakendale Abbey is indeed a terrible place, with blood-stained chambers and underground dungeons concealing dreadful deeds. But I'll leave it to you to discover the horrific reality behind the ghostly horrors.

The authorship of Oakendale Abbey (1797) has been a mystery for two centuries. I came across an article on the Web asserting that "Mrs. Carver" was actually Sir Anthony Carlisle, surgeon (a professional carver of bodies). Carlisle had good reason to hide behind a pseudonym, since the dissipated Lord Oakendale was probably inspired by Carlisle's father-in-law!

I highly recommend The Horrors of Oakendale Abbey as a clever, fast-paced, well-written Gothic with a delightfully feisty and fearless heroine.
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