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Ormond, Volume II (of 3) or, The Secret Witness   By: (1771-1810)

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In this gripping second installment of a three-part series, Charles Brockden Brown continues to weave an intricate tapestry of mystery and suspense. Without revealing the title, readers are invited into the tumultuous world of early 19th-century Philadelphia, where secrets and treachery lurk around every corner.

The novel follows the complex and morally ambiguous protagonist, Ormond, as he delves deeper into a web of intrigue that threatens to unravel his carefully constructed life. The narrative masterfully blends elements of the gothic and the domestic, creating a captivating story that keeps readers on their toes.

Brown's prose is remarkably evocative, painting vivid scenes and emotions that transport the reader back to this tumultuous period in American history. From the grandeur of aristocratic mansions to the gloomy backstreets where the lower classes reside, every detail is meticulously crafted to immerse the readers wholly in the story.

What sets "Ormond, Volume II" apart from other novels of its time is the author's exploration of complex moral dilemmas. Through the trials and tribulations faced by the characters, Brown poses thought-provoking questions regarding the nature of ambition, deception, and the consequences of past actions. The internal conflicts faced by Ormond and the supporting cast create a compelling examination of human nature and the forces that drive us.

The pacing of the novel is deliberate, which allows for the gradual revelation of secrets and unexpected twists. Brown expertly balances this suspense with the development of richly layered characters, whose motivations and loyalties remain uncertain until the final pages. This air of uncertainty keeps readers engaged, unable to put the book down until all mysteries are solved.

While "Ormond, Volume II" can be enjoyed as a standalone novel, readers who have followed the series from the beginning will find themselves rewarded with additional layers of depth and complexity. The continuity of themes and character development throughout the three volumes creates a cohesive narrative that immerses readers in a fully realized world.

In conclusion, Charles Brockden Brown's second volume of the Ormond series is a thrilling and captivating read. With its vivid imagery, moral dilemmas, and expertly crafted plot, this novel stands out as a shining gem in the vast realm of early American literature. Whether you're a fan of historical fiction, mysteries, or simply a well-told tale, "Ormond, Volume II" is a must-read.

First Page:



The Secret Witness.



Author of Wieland, or Transformation.

In Three Volumes.


"Sæpe intereunt aliis meditantes necem."


"Those who plot the destruction of others, very often fall, themselves the victims."

Philadelphia Printed, London, Re Printed for Henry Colburn, English and Foreign Public Library, Conduit Street, Bond Street. 1811.





On leaving Mr. Ormond's house, Constantia was met by that gentleman. He saw her as she came out, and was charmed with the simplicity of her appearance. On entering, he interrogated the servant as to the business that brought her thither.

"So," said he, as he entered the drawing room, where Craig was seated, "you have had a visitant. She came, it seems, on a pressing occasion, and would be put off with nothing but a letter."

Craig had not expected this address, but it only precipitated the execution of a design that he had formed. Being aware of this or similar accidents, he had constructed and related on a previous occasion to Ormond a story suitable to his purpose.

"Ay," said he, in a tone of affected compassion, "it is a sad affair enough. I am sorry it is not in my power to help the poor girl... Continue reading book >>

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