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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
15
4.7 out of 5 stars


on 9 March 2015
Written in 1795, "the Monk: A Romance" by Matthew Lewis is one of the great Gothic novels. Scandalous at the time of its first publication, the story is dark, disturbing and devilish yet highly entertaining. "The Monk" is for me Gothic at its best.

The story is about selling one's soul to the devil in order to satisfy earthly, temporary, uncontrollable desires. In this case it is a Spanish Capuchin monk who gets in the devil's crosshairs and is doomed as a result. As mentioned in some of the other excellent reviews, the story is in the same vein as "Faust" Faust - Masters of Cinema series [DVD] [1926]. Yet the absence of God and Redemption make "the Monk" in my opinion bleaker.

The language in the book is 18th century and requires getting used to. However, once this hurdle is taken, the prose gives an extra dimension to the authentic feel of the story. As a result one can enjoy sentences like "unassisted by Art, uncomforted by Friendship" and "he mingled his tears with hers" even more.

That dozens of people feel compelled to write positive reviews after more than 200 years, tells something of the impact Lewis' story still has on the modern day reader. I have been no exception and recommend "the Monk" to any Gothic and horror fan.
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on 26 January 2016
Look, this book is still in print after a few hundred years, that should be sufficient recommendation. Written by a young gent who puts a number of modern authors to shame because of his effortless command of the language, this tale is remarkably easy to read despite its vintage. Alarmingly visceral, claustrophobic and cinematic, it culminates in a climax so incredibly apocalyptic that it leaves the reader thoroughly drained. Downside, it's a little saggy in the middle but that's entirely to be expected because of its age. It is a dark, compelling tale of human frailty.
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2013
Such an excellent story and written in that doom-laden style of Dr Faustus in which you can see the end coming for the protagonist long before they can. However, it is very much a tale of true love and Raymond and Lorenzo are absolutely wonderful characters, who provide some great old-fashioned storytelling to lighten the pervading dark mood. Reading this novel from a feminist point of view is fascinating - there are some very strong female characters in this story and attempts for males to overcome them end badly...it's just a brilliant tale all round - frightening, full of fantastic imagery and is truly gripping. I highly recommend.
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on 28 July 2010
Mad and bad. Completely bonkers plot about very evil monk is put to bed nicely by tenacious story line and constant action.This is the line between literature and the ludicrous. What should have been a five-minute wonder back in 1796 is still a compelling if silly read today. It's not especially well written, the plot is unhinged and the characters fanciful but somehow this book makes itself likeable, readable and compelling.

The plot is almost too mad to be bothered with, Ambrosio is a Capuchin Superior delivered into the monastery as a mysterious orphan who has risen to be venerated by all Madrid as the perfect example of religious life, but he has fallen in love with Rosario a young novice who turns out to be a girl called Matilda. Meanwhile the drop dead gorgeous Antonia moves into town and is perused by Lorenzo, a cavalier, whose sister Agnes has sadly joined the nunnery of St Claire thinking that her titled lover the Marquis de las Cisternas (but known to her only as the humble Don Raymond) has abandoned her. If your head is already spinning then be grateful that I have spared you the details of the various sub plots that eventually sort of join together as Matilda draws Ambrosio down into a life of wickedness whilst Lorenzo and Don Raymond plan to rescue Agnes.

Virtue and vice lock horns with continuous revelations as to who is who and who done what to whom on almost every page. There are robbers, ghosts, loyal and disloyal servants, venomous and pure relatives and unlikely coincidences to last a lifetime but there is no doubt that Lewis has some talent for story telling and his broad knowledge of literature and hatred of Roman Catholics give dimension and bite to this Gothic story.

I did enjoy reading this as I expect most people would. Its breathless and fast paced with a wild plot but compelling and delightful at the same time - one for the holiday sun lounger.
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on 9 February 2000
This is an enormously enjoyable book, exploring the corruption of a prioress in parallel with the temptation of an abbott, within the context of several gripping romantic plots and elements of the supernatural. The prose style is surprisingly accessible, and not at all turgid.
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on 3 February 2015
Truly excellent. It should be better known. It has nothing to envy such books as Frankenstein or Dracula. Honestly, if you have read either of those books and wish there were more gothic novels in the style of those two, look no further. I wish I could have studied THIS for my GCSE.
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on 30 August 2002
A fantastic novel! 'The Monk' is a classic that captures the attention of the reader from the outset. Set in Spain in follows the torment of a Capuchin monk as he falls into a spiral of deceit and despair. It also follows the struggles of Lorenzo as he tries to save his sisters life from the vengence of her convent.
This is a riveting tale of intrigue, incest, murder and blasphey told in a wonderfully flowing style that is so easy to read that you can't put it down. The two separate story lines come together beautifully-it's the best book i've ever read!
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on 3 May 2000
This book was the choice of one of the participants in a reading group I belong to. We did not know a lot about it, only what she told us she had heard on a radio book review program. I was hooked from the moment I started reading the book until I read the last page. The tragedy was so inevitable and it lay rumbling in the background throughout the book. The characters were so real and you could sympathise with every one of them, because Lewis portrays them so well. The language was beautiful and moving. The story was exciting and raunchy as well as touching and solemn. I recommend this book to all romantics and horror fans.
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on 8 January 2000
This book is flawless.The dialogue is vivid and absorbing, the story gripping and addictive and the ending apocalyptic. Beacause the dialogue is written in an 18th Century style, it can take a while to get used to, but sticking with it brings enormous rewards as the characters descend into murder, perversion and madness in a totally believable and realistic manner.The plot includes many clever twists and thought-provoking moments. It is impossible not to live the lives of the characters as the genius plot unfolds.
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on 23 December 2015
The book I enjoyed more than any other.
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