Paperback (Hesperus, 136 pages)
First published 1810; this edition published 2002
Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars
“Zastrozzi, the arch-villain of the tale, is sworn to avenge the wrongs done to his mother. Prepared to go to any lengths to execute his horrific plans, he enlists the help of the willing Matilda. Together, they vow to destroy Verezzi and Julia, the subjects of their wrath, and embark upon a fateful chain of events that can lead only to catastrophe.”
You can definitely tell that this is Percy Shelley’s first published work. There are elements of skill peeking through, but overall Zastrozzi is a bit of a mess. It’s not coherent; the characters aren’t well-imagined in the least, and the plot is muddled. I really wanted to like this – especially after I picked it up in my university bookshop for £3 – but it just didn’t grab me in the least.
I’m definitely going to delve into more of Percy Shelley’s work – I love gothic fiction, it’s one of my favourite genres – but I wouldn’t recommend this as a starting point for anyone interested in his writing. I’m fairly certain there are better works of his to read.