Published five whole years before Stoker’s Dracula, this is the story of a creepy castle in the Carpathians, where unexplained lights and other unnatural occurrences terrify the surrounding villages. It’s unusual for Verne, in that it’s barely sci-fi (or at least, the sci-fi enters very late and is nearly invisible for most of the book, getting pushed to the sidelines by the atmosphere). But his flair for proper research shows and is admirable as always – Stoker didn’t come nearly as close to vivid and correct images of Transsylvania.
This is the Jules Verne book I liked least. I didn’t get it, and I didn’t care to get it (I had strong opinions on books when I was nine). It might actually be the first horror-adjacent book that I have read, and might also account for my dislike of Kafka.