The Castle of Wolfenbach is the most famous novel written by the English Gothic novelist Eliza Parsons. It contains the standard gothic tropes of the blameless young woman in peril, the centrality of a huge, gloomy, ancient building to the plot, the discovery of scandalous family secrets and a final confrontation between the forces of good and evil. Its resolutely anti-French Roman Catholic, pro-English Protestant sentiment is also a feature of the genre. First published in two volumes during 1793, it was one of the seven "horrid novels" recommended by the character Isabella Thorpe to Catherine Morland in Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey and was an important early work in the genre, predating both Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho and Monk Lewis's The Monk.
Eliza Parsons (1739 – 5 February 1811) was an English gothic novelist. Her most famous novels in this genre are The Castle of Wolfenbach (1793) and The Mysterious Warning (1796) - two of the seven gothic titles recommended as reading by a character in Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey. At an early age she married Mr. Parsons, a turpentine merchant, at Stonehouse, near Plymouth, by whom she had a numerous family. But when the health of Mr. Parsons visibly declined Eliza Parsons was left with her young family, wholly unprovided for, and dependent on her exertions alone for their future subsistence. In circumstances like these, she had no resources but to become an author.
The British Critic, 1794 - This novel is opened with all the romantic spirit of the Castle of Otranto, and the reader is led to expect a tale of other times, fraught with enchantments, and spells impending from every page. As the plot thickens, they vanish into air—into thin air, and the whole turn out to be a company of well-educated and well-bred people of fashion, some of them fraught with sentiments rather too refined and exalted for any rank, and others, deformed by a depravity, that for the honour of human nature we hope has no parallel in life. Taken as a whole, the Castle of Wolfenbach is more interesting than the general run of modern novels, the characters are highly coloured, and the story introduced in a manner that excites curiosity, and in the language of the drama, abounds with interesting, though improbable situations.