Brown's American gothic novels should be so much better known than they are and he could easily lay claim to being the US's first novelist of distinction. Wieland
is possibly his strongest novel though the excellent Arthur Mervyn
was my introduction to him.
The book poses the question of how far rational, Enlightenment principles can prevail when we are always pray to our inner demons and darkness, especially in the new country known as America. Lest this sound too philosophical the book begins with religious mania and a strange conflagration (hint: think Bleak House) and climaxes with one of the most chilling atmospheric "OMG, I'm not alone" scenes I've ever read.
Brown's prose is ornate and his heroine is given to fainting overmuch, but this is a treat for anyone who loves gothic literature.