It is a long, narrow room, with two tall, slim windows at the far end, now draped in dark curtains. Dusky it was with but one candle; and he paused near the door, at the left-hand side of which stood, in those days, an old-fashioned press or cabinet of carved oak. In front of this he stopped.
He had odd, absent ways, and talked more to himself, I believe, than to all the rest of the world put together.
'She won't understand,' he whispered, looking at me enquiringly. 'No, she won't. Will she?'
Then there was a pause, during which he brought forth from his breast pocket a small bunch of some half-dozen keys, on one of which he looked frowningly, every now and then balancing it a little before his eyes, between his finger and thumb, as he deliberated.
I knew him too well, of course, to interpose a word.
'They are easily frightened--ay, they are. I'd better do it another way.'
And pausing, he looked in my face as he might upon a picture.
Although I prefer heroines with a bit more spunk, and plots a bit faster moving, this lives up to its reputation as an excellent Gothick tale, happily without anything much supernatural.
“Sheridan Le Fanu wrote the best supernatural fiction of the 19th century.” Michael Dirda, Classics for Pleasure.
Uncle Silas is the story of a young heiress “Maud” growing up in a lonely country estate with her father, along with some complications. It features neither the supernatural nor ghosts, but a growing tension that starts early and builds with each subsequent chapter.
The tension comes as a series of mysterious characters drift in and out of the story exhibiting behavior that shifts back and forth from kindly to ominous. A series of strange events begin to pile on. Maud struggles to look through this kaleidoscope of chameleon characters and events to sift the demonic from the angelic and determine their ultimate intentions.
Great characters, great plot, great story …… all of that and more
There's a great review of this in US Airways magazine, Dec. 2008, starting on page 53:
Excellent gothic novel by Le Fanu. It is dark, creepy, and suspenseful. Both the plot and the characters - especially the villians - are fully developed and really pull you in to the story. In my opinion, this book is the author's best, and one of the best in the gothic genre. Enjoy!