The Face in the Darkness

The Mysterious Mansion  by Honore de Balzac  (1830)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   December 3, 2013

I am so very tempted to create a Spoiler Alert for this story because the ending is so very horrifying … but I won’t.  I am so very tempted to compare this story to one of Poe’s, but that will give away the ending. I will tell you that this story is about marital infidelity and a sinister one at that.


Balzac wrote this tale very likely from his boyhood experiences of being sent to a dungeon for misbehaving while at school in Vendome. He was sent to the dungeon 100 times; I expect his confinements had a direct effect on the writing of The Mysterious Mansion.


We are in Vendome with our narrator, Monsieur Horace, who comes upon the Grande Breteche. He describes this mansion in ruins with blackened crests and rusted bolts

“Everywhere an invisible hand has graven the word mystery.”

But this is no ghost story. What happened in the Grande Breteche is a great secret and told to Horace by a young woman, Rosalie. The secret is about the lovely Madame Josephine de Merret, her exotic Spanish lover, and the persistent and suspicious husband Monsieur de Merret.

While dignity, trust, and honor remain the hallmarks of a strong marriage, a bargain to maintain these values can be a deadly endeavor. You’ll find the final line of dialogue and an ebony and silver crucifix to be a crucial knot in this chilling story of lust, love, and betrayal.  And the unforgettable face in the darkness.


Read the full text at

This narration at SpokenWordAudio and read by Ben Onwukwe is especially well done, complete with French accents for authentic flavor (30 minutes). Listen to The Mysterious Mansion here.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books  

The Story Reading Ape Blog      The Gothic Wanderer

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed



Filed under fiction, horror, quiet horror, short stories

2 responses to “The Face in the Darkness

  1. Jay

    Hi Paula,
    The Mysterious Mansion was one of my favorite short stories in my 2013 short story reading project. My post on it ‘gives away the whole story’ ( ) but not before a warning and a link for others who want to read it first. Monsieur de Merret ranks among the most cruel literary characters I have encountered in my reading.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s