Monthly Archives: August 2013

Horror-Struck in Benchurch

The Judge’s House  by Bram Stoker (1891)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    August 27, 2013

You’ve heard the old saying, At the darkest hour comes the light. In Bram Stoker’s The Judge’s House, that blackest hour has all the power. I want you to meet Malcolm Malcolmson. Say it aloud, low and throaty. Malcolm Malcolmson. Even the name has a haunting tone. He is a scholar, young, strong, a bit unsociable but determined to find a “quiet” place to dive into his beloved studies. Quiet is probably putting it mildly; he really wants isolation, a desolate location to learn the mysteries of Mathematical Tripos, Harmonical Progression, Permutations and Combinations, and Elliptic Functions.


Most of us can’t identify what these studies are exactly, but it sounds very ambitious. While we can admire Malcolm, we are also immediately intrigued when he comes upon an unoccupied old rambling, heavy-built house of the Jacobean style, with heavy gables and windows in the small town of Benchurch.

Thinking haunted house, are you? Not quite. This is a story about the power of darkness, a darkness so diabolical that I doubt you’ll be able to stop reading until you reach the conclusion.

Our young Malcolm settles into the house with all his textbooks. Mrs. Dempster, the charwoman, provides meals and housekeeping. But Mrs. Dempster has her own reluctance about the house and especially the screens in the dining room … ‘things,’ that put their heads round the sides, or over the top, and look on me!

Do rats, mice, and beetles offend you? Would a grisly rope attached to the roof’s alarm bell hanging down in the corner of the dining room make you feel uneasy—especially if it creaks? What about portraits on the wall covered so thickly with dust you can’t see the faces … yet.

Close to the hearth is a great high-backed carved oak chair, with a mysterious something seated upon it … with baleful eyes.  In the evenings, while Malcolm is buried within the pages of his mathematical rationalizations (and this is important because we all know that mathematical thinking does not have any power to battle the supernatural), the scampering and little screeches begin.


Stoker keeps his narrative moving by bringing the lens in closer and closer to build a foreboding tension. However, I found The Judge’s House to be extra mysterious when I stretched out on my sofa, turned the lights low, and listened this short story by LibriVox Recordings. There’s a magnetic quality in Stoker’s prose—the pacing and descriptions are truly evocative for a suspenseful read-aloud.

Read the short story at Gaslight (45-minute read)

Listen to the LibriVox Recording at YouTube

More of Bram Stoker short stories are at Bram


 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads         WattPad

The Story Reading Ape Blog     

Books on the Nightstand 

Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Monster Librarian


For Authors/Writers:

The Writer Unboxed


Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, literature, mysteries, phantoms, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror

Night Cats by the River Skai

The Cats of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft  (1920)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror     August 20, 2013


Egyptian priests believed that cats possessed magnetic forces of nature.  In the West, witches believed that black cats could share their magical secrets. Mistresses of Runecraft wore cat skins to inspire clarity in reading the Runes. What is striking about any cat is that if you watch it while sleeping, all curled up into a perfect little circle, frequently the head touching its tail, it forms a shape similar to the ouroboros, a symbol of rebirth or immortality.

Cats are a favorite in literature, their bewitching grace often used as a symbol or metaphor. T.S. Eliot is famous for his Bustopher Jones, A Cat About Town.  Poe had Pluto in The Black Cat. Yeats wrote his Cat and the Moon. Lovecraft was a true cat lover too. In his The Cats of Ulthar he gives us a dark and moody tale about fear and revenge.

Near the river Skai, in the countryside of Ulthar dwells and old cotter and his wife who delighted in slaying cats, which puzzles and frightens the local folk so much, they keep a clear distance from the evil couple.  One day a caravan of “dark wanderers” travel through the village. With them is their leader, a man with a headdress of two horns, and an orphaned boy named Menes. Menes’ only possession is his tiny black kitten.

catpeekingllus3-150x150At night, voices of screeching cats prevail. Menes awakes and cannot find his kitten.

Read the short story (15-minute read) at the H.P. Lovecraft Archives


Portrait of H.P. Lovecraft with his cat.

If you’ve not experienced a story with “sand animation,” try this YouTube presentation of The Cats of Ulthar.  Narration is from Dagon & Other Macabre Tales, background music by Toshio Masuda. Only about 10 minutes long, this is a fun, artistic way to watch and listen to fiction.

Do you have cats? Tell us their names.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit



The Story Reading Ape Blog

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Monster Librarian

For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed

The BookshelfMuseBlogspot



Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, horror, literature, Lovecraft, occult, paranormal, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror

The White Wolf and the Spirit-Hunter

The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains by Captain Frederick Marryat (1839)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    August 13, 2013


Here we are … lycanthropes! These shape-shifting wolves take us to the wildest regions of the imagination. You might recall the famous An American Werewolf in Paris. American Werewolf in London. Lon Chaney Jr. as The Wolfman. In Frederick Marryat’s story (this short taken from an episode in his novel The Phantom Ship), our narrator is Hermann Krantz, an endearing and healthy young man who is sailing, with his friend Philip, in a tiny ship up the Straits to Pulo Penang.  During this sail, Hermann tells Philip a story about his family from Transylvania.

Infidelity and murder drive Hermann’s father and the Krantz family to the Hartz Mountains in Germany where the desolate pine trees and vast valleys protect them from the authorities. Marcella, Hermann’s five-year-old sister, a sweet beautiful child endures the unkindness of their father, until one day when a howl of a wolf outside their cottage door changes everything.


Hermann does not know what lies in the wilderness at Hartz Mountain. He does not know what his father might find when he ascends the mountain for his hunt.  An evil spirit? A destiny? The father brings back with him a woman. She is named Christina, full of magnetic beauty, hair glossy as a mirror, penetrating eyes, dressed in stunning white fur robes. She enters the Krantz family cottage—along with her “spirit-hunter.”

Hermann believes that the destinies of man are foreknown.  Evil may fulfill evil. There may be warning voices—premonitions—a kinder spirit that offers preparation. Will Hermann hear that warning cry … or will he hear the wolf’s howl?

This story is a thrilling ride, pulsing with symbolisms of female sexuality, motherhood, and male domination of the 1800s. It is probably one of the earliest werewolf tales written, and I will say, quite satisfying in theme and message.

Have you a favorite werewolf short story? Please drop us a comment.


Portrait of Captain Frederic Marryat

Read The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains at This story is followed by another short, the Legend of the Bell Rock by same author.

 Some  worthy web sites for reading …



The Story Reading Ape Blog

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror


For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed


Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, horror, literature, mysteries, occult, paranormal, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror, weird tales, werewolves

There Be Giants Here!

A Ghost Story by Mark Twain (1870)

Tuesday’s Tale of  Terror    August 6, 2013


I prefer to say as little as possible about this ghostly story. It is fiction but more than fiction. Let me just say that you can expect suspense, some creepy effects (clichéd to the point of being cute) and of course Mark Twain’s signature humor.

What you really need is a tidbit of background (history actually) so you can fully appreciate Mark Twain’s witty little fiction.

Do you believe in giants? A Biblical giant? Genesis 6:4 says, There be giants in the earth in those days. In Cardiff, New York, in 1869, workers were digging a well behind the barn of William Newell and they unearthed a gigantic ten-foot tall stone man. Religious fervor being what it was at the time—and the story of David and Goliath a favorite—people believed that the discovered “Petrified Man” was indeed an ancient giant in the earth. Curious residents arrived at Newell’s farm in droves to see the famous “Cardiff Giant.” Farmer Newell charged fifty cents to viewers of the 10-foot fossil.


Even P.T. Barnum wanted in on the action so bad, he created his own imitation giant for his circus, which drew far more people than Farmer Newell’s specimen.


No matter what scientists said at the time—pronouncing the giant stone man as a fraud, an elaborate hoax, an impossibility—the power of belief in Goliath and Biblical accuracy ran deep among the masses, inspiring belief that the giant was real. Today, the Cardiff Giant is on display at the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY as America’s Greatest Hoax.

So, I will leave you with these questions before you begin Twain’s A Ghost Story … Do you believe in giants? Would a giant believe in giants? Would a giant believe in fiction?

Read  A Ghost Story at Haunted Bay (15-minute read)

And do leave a comment as to what you think of this ghostly tale. Here’s what Twain said about fiction: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

One more thing, take a moment and view the only footage (very short silent film) of Mark Twain taken by Thomas Edison at Twain’s estate in 1909. Enjoy from the Smithsonian Magazine.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit



The Story Reading Ape Blog

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Laura’s Ramblings and Reviews

Kindle Nation Daily

For Authors/Writers: The Writer Unboxed


Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Hauntings, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales


May I share some good news with you?


Gothic Readers Book Club Award Review for The Dazzling Darkness    8-5-13

Dazzling sums up Paula Cappa’s paranormal/ supernatural novel. Set in Concord Massachusetts, the  spirits of transcendentalists Emerson, Thoreau, and Alcott wander the woods near an old cemetery. Elias Hatch, the cemetery keeper, is the last of the transcendentalists in our age. There are also secrets, guilt, and pain hidden among the old tombstones. The straightforward narrative is about a kidnapping, the clues, and a family suffering from their loss. Poetry’s woven among the plot to give the prose an elegance and grace that seduces you. The metaphorical elements bring a fascinating dimension to the supernatural elements.

If You Like: Algernon Blackwood, Henry James, Ralph Waldo Emerson


Gothic Readers Book Club



Filed under fiction, horror, paranormal