My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a good novel. It’s shorter and less complicated than other novels by Dumas, but it’s also in a vastly different genre.
The characters, though simple, were interesting enough. I liked the way the story was framed (as someone recounting a tale which someone had told to him) and I really enjoyed the premise of the ghost story itself. However, the character and plot development were not on par with Dumas’s larger works like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. (Castle Eppstein was written only a year or two before both of those great novels.)
The novel was dragging by the end and I was not a fan of the ending. At all. After 200+ pages of building the story (and my anticipation for a grand conclusion), everything was resolved far too abruptly- a big event took place and then in less than a page, Dumas told us the fate of the major characters. This abrupt ending may be due in part to the way Gothic novels were written at the time, but it left me dissatisfied.
For the sake of telling the best story possible, Dumas would have done better to either shorten the book or to expand the plot and characters. I believe Dumas could successfully have gone deeper into the story had he wanted to create a long novel like The Three Musketeers or The Count of Monte Cristo.
After the novel there were two short essays: the first gave a biography of Dumas and the second analyzed Castle Eppstein in the context of other Gothic fiction. This second essay was an interesting read- especially for someone not overly familiar with Gothic novels.
Castle Eppstein was good overall and I’m thankful to Norman L. Goodrich for translating it to English.
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