The attempt of Osbert, the Earl of Dunbayne, to bring justice to the killer of his father fails terribly. During his attack on the castle of Athlin, he's seized and imprisoned by his enemy. Worse, Osbert's sister, the lovely and innocent Mary, becomes a pawn in his enemy's plans.
But all is not lost, as the noble-hearted peasant Alleyn desperately searches for a way to free the earl and save Mary from a fate that would make death preferable.
Anne Radcliffe's first published work, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, draws on the influence of Horace Walpole, Clara Reeve, and other writers of the period. There is the rightful heir, who, ignorant of his patrimony, nonetheless shines with virtue despite his base upbringing, and the chaste, highborn maiden who loves him. And of course there is the ancient castle with its secret doors and musty passages.
At 42,000 words, it's the shortest of the Radcliffe works. (In comparison, her longest novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, weighs in at 285,000 words.) The shorter length doesn't prevent Radcliffe from including multiple battles, several dungeon excursions, and two pairs of star-crossed lovers. Not until the very last pages does she tie off all the loose threads with a revelation and happy ending.
This edition has been copyedited in accordance with current American practice in respect to punctuation. In some places words and phrases have been reordered to improve ease of comprehension.