A Sicilian Romance
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The plot concerns the turbulent history of the fallen aristocrats of the house of Mazzini, on the northern shore of Sicily, as related by a tourist who becomes intrigued by the stories of a monk he meets in the ruins of their doomed castle.
The introduction to the 'Oxford World's Classics' edition notes that in this novel "Ann Radcliffe began to forge the unique mixture of the psychology of terror and poetic description that would make her the great exemplar of the Gothic novel, and the idol of the Romantics". The novel explores the "cavernous landscapes and labyrinthine passages of Sicily's castles and convents to reveal the shameful secrets of its all-powerful aristocracy".