Sunday, November 30, 2014

'I Came to a Castle' by Velda Johnston

Published:  1969
Setting:  Modern Day


She came to the ancient and fearsome Castle Estillio as the guest of a rich scientist and his frivolous sister. But she quickly realized that she was a prisoner among madmen. The bizarre tower which had been turned into a modern laboratory...the grim dungeon with its macabre instruments...the legendary tunnel which no one dared speak of...even the handsome, enigmatic stranger whom she longed to trust...all were essential to the grotesque experiment for which she, Dinah Haversham, had been carefully chosen....

Dinah Haversham had no idea when she came to Castle Estillo, one car in a bandwagon of vehicles carrying months' worth of food and goods, that her job as charge to two young boys would turn into a living nightmare.  As Dinah and the two young boys grow accustomed to the strangely modernized castle and it's weird inhabitants, she finds herself drawn into a dangerous game of deceit, murder, and an all-out apocalypse!

Setting:  Gloomy Castle Estillo

Plot:  A mad scientist who holds a household hostage as he awaits an apocalypse he's predicted.

Gothic Elements:  mad scientist, dark and gloomy castle, foreign servants (some evil and some good), murder, lost & stolen fortune (art), heroine being locked away in a chamber, stormy weather, reporter/cop undercover, a fortune hunter, hidden passages and trap doors, 

Romance:  the heroine sparks a romance with the reporter/cop early on but remains suspicious of him until he saves her

I feel that this book could have been an incredible read, had it some other plot.  Johnston included some really great gothic elements to set the mood, yet the story just did not live up to it's description.  In fact, there was really no mystery or suspense until at least after page 100.  I found the novel to be mundane and boring, interspersed with some great gothic humor here and there, yet overall just not an interesting read. This book would be better grouped in the genre of sci-fi horror, not gothic romance.  Would NOT recommend to fans of gothic romance, despite the cover art and story-line, this is not a gothic romance!

My rating:  
2 Stars

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