Monthly Archives: February 2013

No Bones For The Grave

The Mortal Immortal by Mary Shelley (1834)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 26, 2013

-MaryShelleyEaston3Mary Shelley

Who is the first queen of horror? With February’s Women in Horror Month concluding this week, this blog would not be complete without featuring  Mary Shelley. Her Frankenstein hasn’t been out of print since 1818.  She died at the young age of 53 on February 1st, 1851.

The Mortal Immortal is a twisted love story of human desires, passion, a dash of science, ageing and death. There is some melodrama here with writing like “our days were winged by joy, and “the hours danced away.” But this tale of woe is so well executed, you will find yourself wholeheartedly fascinated.

Our story opens with Winzy on his anniversary—“I complete my three hundred and twenty-third year!”

Okay, so you’re thinking vampire, right? Think again. We have an alchemist named Cornelius who invents an elixir that is a curative. Winzy is his apprentice. Winzy is driven by his love for a beautiful young woman Bertha—who is not so enchanted with Winzy. Her scorn and disappointment of Winzy is a heartbreak for  him. Because Winzy idolizes Bertha to a fault, he drinks Cornelius’ elixir, hoping it will cure his love for Bertha and set him free of his obsession. Ahh, but can anyone really become immune to love? And what is life without love?

This elixir is more than potent. Winzy does not know how far its curative measures will go. Will Bertha love him now? Will he care? Winzy finds himself in a cruel dilemma. And poor Bertha!

Behold the vanity of human wishes. And Winzy’s wishes at the end make this a truly macabre tale.

Read it here:

http://www.sff.net/people/doylemacdonald/l_mortal.htm

Leave a comment if you liked The Mortal Immortal.  Stop back next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under fiction, horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror, weird tales, Women in Horror Month

Triumph Over Madness, Phantom or Fragment?

The Yellow Wallpaper by  Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1899)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 19, 2013

Charlotte_Perkins_Gilman_c._1900

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Imagine you are confined in a yellow papered bedroom, bars on the walls, and “rings and things in the walls,” with a bed nailed down and a bedstead that is gnawed. In The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, we have an unnamed narrator (we learn her name at the end) with shifting consciousness between her inner world and the real world. This is a story of psychological horror that is quite unnerving. Although dated—and beautifully so—our character is between madness and the imaginary with a dash of obsession, and, yes, there is something else.

The narrator and her husband John, a physician, spend a summer at a grand house (she tells us “a haunted house”) in the countryside. She suffers from “nervous depression” and “excited fancies.” Because of her odd behavior, John confines her to her bedroom where she can “rest.” She keeps a secret journal and it is through this journal that the story is revealed. What occupies her mind much of the time is the “dim sub-pattern” in the yellow wallpaper. She describes it as “faded and where the sun is just so–I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.”

The symbolisms here abound. The themes are clearly feminism and repressed individual expression as John insists she stay in bed, suppress her imagination, and discontinue writing in her journal.

You will find the narrator’s minute-to-minute descriptions of her descent into madness keep you going to the very last line until her sanity or insanity is determined. The key question to ask at the end of the story is, who is really in control now? Who is free? Note John’s condition in this last scene. I love the little twist at the end, and how her mental derangement succeeds. It makes you want to say, Ha!

Read it here:

http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/wallpaper.html

It may not surprise you to know that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a feminist and lecturer in social reform. She wrote 186 short stories. Here’s one of her quotes that is memorable and, I think, captures the meaning of The Yellow Wallpaper.

“Here she comes, running out of prison and off the pedestal; chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”

Leave a comment if you find the ending to be less triumphant than I’ve suggested. There is much literary debate on Jane’s descent or release of her madness.

Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under dark fantasy, haunted mind, horror, psychological horror, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

Murder, Romance, and a Vengeful Ghost

Eveline’s Visitant by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 12, 2013

The dark side of nature in Victorian times (1830s to 1900) was a fascination by many, including writers. Ghost stories were especially popular and Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Eveline’s Visitant is a part of English literature that we can certainly savor. Women writers at the time brought a special atmosphere of evil and fear, and Braddon is among the best of them.

We begin at a masked ball at the Palais Royal in France. Andre de Brissac is murdered by his cousin, Hector, the narrator of our story. As Andre lay dying on the ground—and despite Hector’s plea for forgiveness—Andre vows his ghostly hand to return and drop a poison into Hector’s “cup of joy.”

Hector becomes a rich man by Andre’s death. But he is miserable with this inherited wealth, with becoming master of the Andre’s chateau, Puy Verdun, where he is totally disliked by all—servants, neighbors, even the villagers.

Here the author Braddon employs the powers of the love story. Hector falls for an angelic young woman, Eveline, in Paris. He feels redeemed as Eveline is deeply in love with him. They marry and live happily ever after at the chateau Puy Verdun … or do they?

Shadows of the dead prevail.

As predictable as this story may be, the writing is expertly executed with suspense in character and plot and the ending truly haunting.

Read it here:

http://arthursclassicnovels.com/braddon/evevis10.html

If you’d like to read more of Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s work, try The Cold Embrace http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/coldembr.htm

And The Shadow in the Corner

http://www.gothichorrorstories.com/classic-gothic-ghost-stories/the-shadow-in-the-corner/

Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Hauntings, horror, mysteries, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

Ancient Sorceries, Dabblers in the Dark Arts

Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 5, 2013

“Because of sleep and because of cats.” What an odd turn of phrase. Got you puzzled? There is a deep mystery in these words in Blackwood’s short story Ancient Sorceries. If a passenger on a train said these words to you while stopped at a small town in France, would you think it was a warning or a riddle?

Blackwood, a masterful writer of the supernatural, was a psychical researcher who believed secret powers lie in everyone. So it seems fitting to trust him to mesmerize us totally with his imagination. In Ancient Sorceries, he writes a seamless prose that moves along with a plot of witches, felines, demons, and reincarnation.

The psychiatrist, John Silence, is a doctor of the mind but also of the soul, a psychic physician with great spiritual sympathies for his patient, Arthur Vezin. Vezin, a timid and sensitive man, recounts an experience to the doctor that is so bizarre, that Vezin barely survives to speak of it—or at least Vezin thinks he survives.

Vezin is travelling to London by rail but exits the train at an unknown sleepy hill town in France. He is attracted to this little town and stays at a rambling ancient inn because it was so warm and still, making him want to “purr.” But he quickly discovers that there are secrets in this town and the people he sees. Enchanted with these secrets, Vezin likens this experience to a “softly-coloured dream which he did not even realize to be a dream.”

What a very weird place to be.

He meets a woman with “red lips” and “laughing white teeth.” He falls in love. His intense longing for her versus his intense dread for her propels the story with great suspense. This woman’s dark magic ensnares him. Can he resist the adventure or does he succumb to the Dance that never dies?

Blackwood does not disappoint his readers with this “sweet and fearful fantasy of evil.” Ancient Sorceries will certainly leave you spellbound. Perhaps Blackwood is right that there is a force secretly hidden in all of us.

Read it here:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blackwood/algernon/john-silence/chapter2.html

Stop back next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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Filed under dark fantasy, demons, fiction, horror, reincarnation, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, witches