I while ago I read Northanger Abbey and while I enjoyed it I also felt like missing out on half of the jokes because while was vaguely aware that Gothic novels meant scary old castles, fair maidens and old curses I had never read one of them. So I eventually decided to read one (after buying it, putting it on my tbr-pile and forgetting about it again till yesterday).
As it happens The Castle of Otranto is actually the first novel that (in its second edition) was published as "Gothic Novel" and wow! It certainly is one. Half a page in the only son and heir of Manfred, the highly unlikeable the lord of the castle has already kicked the bucket (only minutes before the wedding) after a piece of a statue (that apparently appeared out of nowhere) fell on him. Half a page later Manfred has already condemned an unsuspecting bystander to death who just remarked on the similarities between the piece and a statue in the castle and then tries to persuade Isabelle, his son's not-quite-widow to marry him (she refuses among other reasons because Manfred's wife is still alive). It continues in that speed and so the 100 pages are crammed with everything. Mistaken identities, birth-marks that reveal a person's true heritage, curses and enough murder, manipulation and bloodshed to keep up with many contemporary thrillers.
As a result it reads more like a parody that crams all kinds of Gothic tropes together than something that (at least to an extend) wanted to be taken seriously but it is definitely an enjoyable read and because of the shortness and the fact that it was the first Gothic novel not a bad place to start if you're also curious about Gothic fiction.