Literary Aficionado’s Book Review of The Dazzling Darkness

Latest Review for The Dazzling Darkness at Literary Aficionado

‘Even the corpse has its own beauty’ – Emerson

Review by Grady Harp

“American author Paula Cappa deals with words. She has experience as a journalist for newspapers in New York and Connecticut, a freelance copywriter, editing health, business communications, magazines and news articles, newsletters and advertising copy, but her true love is writing both short stories and novels – that destination for words that satisfies her most. NIGHT SEA JOURNEY and met with considerable success. THE DAZZLING DARKNESS is her second novel and the winner of Gothic Readers Book Club Award for Outstanding Fiction. From reading both books it seems assured she has a secure future in her chosen field of paranormal mystery.

Cappa has that special gift of being able to make the supernatural natural, so polished is her prose and ability to string together ideas and development of same in a sustaining suspenseful manner. Even as she describes supernatural imagery her descriptive sense makes the quasi-visible visible. And that is a talent that will draw even those who are not keen on supernatural stories into her fold. Rather than repeat the fine synopsis of her story, allow the author to inform us of the background f this novel (from her website): `The Dazzling Darkness, a supernatural mystery set in Concord, Massachusetts, which is laced with 19-century transcendentalism, some people are curious to know how Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) features in this present-day novel. Emerson, driven by his intense grief over his wife’s death, entered the family graveyard and opened Ellen’s coffin to view her body. It was only a year after her death. Twenty-five years later, he opened the coffin of his boy, Waldo, who died at 5 years old. Could any of us do this even once, let alone twice? `In my novel, Elias Hatch, the cemetery owner of Old Willow Cemetery, keeps to himself, reading voraciously in his cottage overlooking the gravestones in Concord, Massachusetts. Like Emerson, Hatch is a modern-day, transcendentalist. He believes we can all transcend mind and body. Like Emerson, Hatch believes that man is disunited with himself in a thick darkness and that the “gleams of better light,” can and do prevail in all of life and nature. Emerson and the 19th-century transcendentalists had a passion for wakefulness, deep thought, and inspiration. Do you sometimes feel like you want to wake up and see a true vision? Emerson wrote in Method of Nature “The crystal sphere of thought is as concentrical as the geological structure of the globe. As our soils and rocks lie in strata, concentric strata, so do all men’s thinkings run laterally, never vertically.” A crystal sphere of thought … thinkings run laterally. What is that exactly? In Old Willow Cemetery, Elias Hatch understands this mystery. He witnesses this crystal sphere connecting to the darkness of the dead. Impossible? Not if you know the secret that lies buried in Old Willow in Concord. Can you guess what this mysterious power is? Elias Hatch will not tell you. Only the dazzling faces of Old Willow will reveal it.

There are authors who attempt to enter the realm of great literature on th ecoattalis of the famous writers and philosophers of the past. Paula Cappa knows how to inform her story with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and refrain from mimicking or palgarizing. She simply, and quite assuredly incorporates the influence into her web. Through the twists and turns of the plot Cappa manages to establish the rare use of the concept of transcendentalism with a story that is staggeringly poignant. Paula Cappa is a fine, informed young writer and now with two successful books under her belt, we will be reading even more about her.”

Buy on or at Barnes&Noble in ebook or trade paperback published by Crispin Books.

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Thrilling Fears of the Supernatural

The Spectral Hand   by Jean Lorrain (1895)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 21, 2014


Consider yourself invited to an intimate dinner party among the elegant and artistic Parisian society at the home of Marquise de Strada, a woman of enduring beauty and flamboyance. Our narrator recounts the evening’s occult events in the Marquise’s drawing room. The guests decide to contact the spirit world. One of the guests, Henri, suggests they try a method of evocation called ‘the spectral hand.’ Beneath the flickering light of one lamp in the shape of an owl, this group attempts to conjure the dead.








“This is what must be done,’ Henri continued. ‘I shall attempt to invoke an invisible presence, requesting it to manifest itself by means of a sensation of coldness. Whichever one of us experiences that sensation most keenly is the one who is chosen to be summoned. His duty is to get up, and extend his hand into the gap between the curtains, into the dark void beyond.”



In terms of 19th century literature of the French Decadent Movement, author Jean Lorrain was well known. Openly homosexual and accused of perversity, bad taste, misogyny, anti-Semitism and much more, he wrote some thirty short stories, titles like The Glass of Blood, The Spirit of the Ruins, The Possessed, Prey to Darkness, The Locked Room. His most famous novel is Monsieur De Phocas. Sarah Bernhardt wrote to him “inside the abominably depraved being that you are, there beats the heart of a great artist, a genuinely sensitive and tender heart.”


A collection of his short stories is Nightmares of an Ether Drinker (which Lorrain was and presumably died of an overdose.)

Some readers consider Lorrain to be a breathtaking storyteller. How did you feel reading this short story? Could you tell the author was this dark?

Read The Spectral Hand in Late Victorian Gothic Tales  (PDF, scroll to page 177, very short read)

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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Walpurgis Nacht: Night of the Witches

Dracula’s Guest   by Bram Stoker (1914)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 14, 2014


This short story is not about witches but  does have the flavors of Count Dracula and a creepy atmospheric mood in the classic style of Stoker’s horror. If you are a Bram Stoker fan, love the novel Dracula and are anxious to see the new movie Dracula Untold, this short fiction has all the qualities of a mysterious journey down a dark road to the supernatural.

We are on a carriage ride through the woods of Germany on the cursed night of the witches. An Englishman in Munich, on his way to visit Count Dracula in Transylvania, takes a carriage ride on Walpurgis nacht. It’s early summer and the carriage horses are throwing up their heads suspiciously into the air. Johann, the driver, passes a road that appears inviting to Englishman and he asks Johann to turn into that road. But Johann refuses. Johann responds …


He crossed himself and mumbled a prayer, before he answered, ‘It is unholy.’

‘What is unholy?’ I enquired.

‘The village.’

‘Then there is a village?’

‘No, no. No one lives there hundreds of years.’

You are afraid, Johann—you are afraid. Go home; I shall return alone; the walk will do me good.’


And so begins this man’s lonely walk into the darkened woods, through a snowstorm, into the village cemetery, and the supernatural power he encounters there.





With the release of the film Dracula Untold this month, where the history of Count Dracula is illustrated in the story of Vlad the Impaler, I thought reading this particular short story of Stoker’s would be timely. It is thought that Dracula’s Guest was originally designed to be the opening chapter of the novel Dracula.







In 1912 Bram Stoker died in London on April 20, during the same month as the German Walpurgis nacht date of April 30. His wife Florence had Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories published in 1922. Dracula’s Guest was first published in 1912 with the dedication, “To My Son.”




Read the short story Dracula’s Guest at

Listen to the audio version at

 And, if you’ve seen Dracula Untold, post a review!


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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Dark Autumn Birds and Their Magic

The Magic of the Loons   by Paula Cappa  (2014)

The Birds   by Daphne du Maurier  (1952)

Tuesday’s Tales of Terror   October 7, 2014






The feathered race! You might recall fairy tales about birds: Grimm’s The Golden Goose, The Raven, The Seven Ravens, The Three Crows, The Ugly Duckling, Russia’s The Firebird. Alfred Hitchcock’s  film The Birds was an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, a novella about how birds attacked people in Britain (after WW II).  In du Maurier’s story, the birds are revolting but we don’t know why. Same with Hitchcock’s version, the birds’ behavior is unexplained, although who could forget that last scene with the caged lovebirds.


This week’s two tales of terror are in the same category but very different in nature and scope. If you’ve never read du Maurier’s The Birds, this novella is suspenseful with evocative prose, and so perfect for a Halloween read.

On December the third, the wind changed overnight, and it was winter. Until then the autumn had been mellow, soft. The leaves had lingered on the trees, golden-red, and the hedgerows were still green. The earth was rich where the plow had turned it.  Black and white, jackdaw and gull, mingled in strange partnership, seeking some sort of liberation, never satisfied, never still. Flocks of starlings, rustling like silk, flew to fresh pasture, driven by the same necessity of movement, and the smaller birds, the finches and the larks, scattered from tree to hedge as if compelled. 

On the more contemporary side of our feathered friends, my own short story The Magic of the Loons is published in the October issue of Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine. My story is more edgy fantasy: a little bit sexy, a little bit magical realism,  a lot of mystery. Come meet the Loon Woman, Kai:

women feathers green eyes 2560x1600 wallpaper_wallpaperswa.com_98

Kai dressed up as his Loon Woman with a string of black and white shells coiled about her neck, silvery veils twisted skin-tight on her arms and legs. She pinned back her hair into a long twisted tail, all blue-black and lustrous. Feathers framed her face with eyes elaborately painted smoky red. Absolutely ravishing. What man could resist her spells and tricks? What man wouldn’t thrill under her bewitching attention?

I’m so pleased to have my work published in Dark Gothic Resurrected as they were named one of the Top Ten Best Fiction Magazines by Preditors and Editors in 2013 for content, art, and covers. They offer short stories, author interviews, art and poetry.

Begin this Halloween season with two stories about the birds of dark autumn.

Read  The Birds at

Read my Magic of the Loons (page 84) at Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine

(available in paperback and Kindle editions on


Buy for Kindle on

Buy Paperback Magazine, October Issue on

2013 P&E awards


And, please, Readers, don’t be shy about leaving me a comment about Magic of the Loons. I’m looking for reviews!


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.


Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

San Francisco Book Review 5-STARS Night Sea Journey

Just in Time for Halloween,

Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural

Earns a 5-star rating, San Francisco Book Review


Kip has nightmares that would institutionalize most. In fact, her shrink thinks she is hallucinating. Her nightmares are real though: each nightmare brings forth real creatures trying to kill her and ends with their death at her hands, with their corpses buried in the dunes and surrounding area. Night Sea Journey is like reading a Dan Brown book with a wicked twist: it has real demons. Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride. The story itself is excellent and impossible to put down; it is a fast-paced thriller where reality is blurred and faith is tested, guaranteeing to keep you enthralled until the very last word. There is definitely re-readability with Night Sea Journey that you will want to discover for yourself.

Reviewed by Kim Heimbuch at San Francisco Book Review  October 2014

Buy the ebook or soft cover at Amazon or Barnes & Noble ($2.99 $16.95) Crispin Books



Night Sea Journey … more reviews.

***** Definitely a page turner where I did not want to put the book down. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a great read, great writer, awesome detailed characters, demons, angels.

**** A suspenseful, romantic, mystical tale … Cappa’s superior writing skills, her ability to write this particular story to be so profound and thorough was perhaps one of the most impressive thing about the book.

Beautifully told. Cappa is a skilled writer producing beautiful prose with amazing imagery.

Quite an enchanting tale, weaving together ancient Biblical supernaturalism and dream theory, told in dreamy colorful language, with deft characterizations. Highly recommended. Monster Librarian
“Paula Cappa’s novel Night Sea Journey is a powerful page-turner – enigmatic, surprising, and completely engaging … a wild ride over dangerous and previously uncharted terrain.”  JAMES HULBERT, author of A Kiss Before You Leave Me

“Night Sea Journey” is a startling story that captures the reader from the first page, strong character development and a robust vocabulary. Cappa’s characters are the kind the reader remembers long after the story has been read. Her dialogue flawlessly carries the story from one stage to the next.” JUDITH REVEAL, author of The Brownstone

“Night Sea Journey is one of the most interesting novels I’ve come across in a good long time! The writing is good, the story is truly engaging, the characters are memorable, and as far as this editor is concerned, the philosophical base is right on!”
- TERESA KENNEDY, author of In The Country of No Compassion, and co-founder of Village Green Press

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Devil in a Teapot

The Brass Teapot   by Tim Macy (2007)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 30, 2014


(Skull Appreciation Society,




Are you attracted to mysterious objects of doom? Cursed pens, haunted vases, psychic jewelry, evil portraits, poppets, mummy icons? Teapots are famous for having tempests.



Tim Macy’s (a Kansas City contemporary writer) The Brass Teapot is a haunted story and perfect as we enter the Halloween season. Alice and John are traveling back from visiting their daughter in college and during their rest stop they come upon an old woman of Eastern culture who is wearing leather pants and her black toes poke out. Maybe she’s a witch? Without a single word, she shoves a teapot into Alice’s hands. Alice takes the teapot home and life changes dramatically for the couple. Unusual action begins to happen to this couple who are struggling to meet their finances and maintain their marriage.








This bras teapot might very well be haunted. More likely, this teapot possesses a magick power that leads Alice and John to rather violent if not profitable ends.


Read The Brass Teapot at EastOfTheWeb

I can also recommend critically acclaimed author Terry M. West’s The Giving of Things Cold and Cursed, which is a very short fiction (Kindle Single) about a parapsychologist with a Black Room of things cold and cursed. The story hinges on what is absent to the eye and yet present in the soul. 99cents  Available on



For a CLASSIC tale of cursed objects, nothing beats W.W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw,. Also Arthur Conan Doyles’ The Leather Funnel, both reads here at Tales of Terror.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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Two Ghosts in Salem

The Rival Ghosts   by Brander Matthews (1896)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 23, 2014


Rival Ghosts is one of the most adorable ghost stories. Uncle Larry shares with us a charming tale in the old tradition of storytelling.


We are on a cruise ship in the Atlantic, snuggled in deckchairs and warmed under blankets against the chilly sea breezes as the ship heads toward Fire Island. Uncle Larry tells the story of Baron Eliphalet Duncan, half Scotch and half Yankee, who encounters a family ghost and a house ghost. Dueling ghosts? Spirit lore, banchees and bogies, tambourines and banjos all play a role in this humorous spoof. There is a lovely romance too as we visit their house in Salem.


“You know,” resumed Uncle Larry, “that two waves of light or of sound may interfere and produce darkness or silence. So it was with these rival spooks. They interfered, but they did not produce silence or darkness. On the contrary, as soon as Eliphalet and the officer went into the house, there began at once a series of spiritualistic manifestations—a regular dark séance.”



quote-a-gentleman-need-not-know-latin-but-he-should-at-least-have-forgotten-it-brander-matthews-293970Author Brander Matthews is considered to be a rather undistinguished and forgotten writer who was friends with Twain and Kipling. He wrote short stories, novels, plays, essays and was a professor of dramatic literature at Columbia College, New York City.


Read The Rival Ghosts at (scroll down to page 93)


Listen to Rival Ghosts at Librivox: Humorous Ghost Stories Chapter Eight in two parts:


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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