So, i am into the final  chapters of Eleanor Sleath’s Orphan of The Rhine, the regular ending in which the good end happily, the wicked end happily and the heroine, now confirmed to be a Contessa, marries the hero.

It is also the department in which the author takes the opportunity to explain away all those ghostly and unearthly happenings that have thrilled us on our journey. the mysterious grey figure who drifted in and out of our view at critical scenes is no shade of Laurette’s ancestor. The groans and rattles where not deceased knights, unsettled by past crimes and unable to sleep soundly in their tombs. The supernatural is safely explained away.

However, in Orphan, Sleath takes us one step further. Coincidence is the mainstay of the Gothic plotline, the more incredible and unbelievable the better. How could Enrico possibly have found the remote house where Laurette was being held captive. Coincidences run through so much of the gothic as the only way that the mysteries can ever possibly be resolved within the time constrainst of three or four volumes.

But no, Sleath doesn’t allow for coincidence. She allows the Conte Della Croisse to explain:

“I met with him by accident, or rather by the direction of an interposing Providence; for to attribute such events to blind chance is impious”.

Yes, behind it all is that unseen guiding hand above, who leaves nothing to the spirit world, and nothing to chance. Another illusion shattered?

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