Years ago, when Young Earl Osbert of Castle Athlin was a boy, his father was ambused and slain by Baron Malcolm of Dunbayne. Now Osbert has come into his majority, and in the company of a sturdy and heroic young peasant named Alleyn he's gone to avenge his father's murder. What waits for them at the castle of Dunbayne is not vengeance but a fate that neither one of them imagines: not just conquest or defeat, but a terrible challenge -- and the romance of a lifetime.
Ann Radcliffe (ne Ward, 1764 - 1823) was an English author and pioneer of the Gothic novel. Radcliffe's technique of explaining the supernatural elements of her novels has been credited with enabling Gothic fiction to achieve respectability in the 1790s. In 1787, she married the Oxford graduate and journalist William Radcliffe (1763-1830), part-owner and editor of the English Chronicle. He often came home late and to occupy her time she began to write and read her work to him when he returned. Theirs was a childless, but seemingly happy marriage. Radcliffe called him her "nearest relative and friend." The money she earned from her novels later allowed them to travel together, along with their dog, Chance. In her final years, Radcliffe retreated from public life.