Uncle Silas by Sheridan Le Fanu
I thought I saw a human face, about the most terrible my fancy could have called up, looking fixedly into the room. The face gazed towards the bed, and in the imperfect light looked like a livid mask, with chalky eyes'. Master of the ghost story genre M.R. James commented that the, 'final terrific murder-scene and escape can hardly be forgotten' by those who have read Uncle Silas. Neither does the opening disappoint. As the November winds wail in ivied chimneys we are drawn into a Victorian Gothic atmosphere of menacing, sombre gloom and ebony shadows. Sheridan Le Fanu leaves us in no doubt that we are in for a feast of exciting drama, luring us into the intensely claustrophobic world of the nineteenth century sensational novel. Le Fanu is amongst the top-notch exponents of the creepy, the criminal and the oppressive. In this tale of the orphaned teenage heiress Maud Ruthyn, fearing for her life at the hands of her sinister uncle, he has created a rattling good plot with the depth of a social novel and the power of high romance.