The Rose and the Key, a Forgotten Gothic Victorian Novel by J. S. LeFanu


The foremost teller of scary stories in his day and a profound influence on both the novelists and filmmakers of the 20th century, Anglo-Irish author Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 – 1873) has, sadly, fallen out of scholarly and popular favor, and unfairly so.

To this day, contemporary readers who happen across his works praise his talent for weaving a tense literary atmosphere tinged by the supernatural and bolstered by hints of ambiguous magic.

A splendid instance of the sensation novela genre that was wildly popular in the Victorian era, with its focus on lurid crime invading previously cheerful, ordinary, and domestic places his, 1871 novel The Rose and the Key creates a sinister stew that encompasses obsessive love, a domineering mother, a menacing doctor, and a peek inside a lunatic asylum.

A classic of Gothic terror, The Rose and the Key still horrifies readers today…


A beautiful young heroine, a cruel and unfeeling mother, a one-eyed spy, a mesmerist, and a lunatic asylum … these are the perfect components for a Victorian Gothic novel; and in The Rose and the Key, Le Fanu weaves them into a thrilling mystery.

The terror builds slowly, as young Maud Vernon and her old cousin, Maximilla, enjoy a sketching tour through Wales. Ominously, they find themselves shadowed by a sinister one-eyed man. And when they return to Roydon Hall, Maud’s home, things become yet worse.

Maude’s mother, the imperious Lady Vernon, seems to loathe her, and there are other concerns as well: a mysterious will, an intimidating man clothed all in black, and the satanic mesmerist Doctor Antomarchi.

Le Fanu slowly unfolds the story’s plot, building the mystery and suspense, until the shocking climax!

Below are some pages from the ebook edition, available for only $2.99 at

Let’s read Le Fanu and bring his work back together.

Light the tapers, and…

Happy Reading.




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