Monthly Archives: April 2014

Night Terror in a Bleak Autumn

The Dream-Woman by Wilkie Collins (From Queen of Hearts) (1855)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    April 29, 2014


OldEngland-vol2-p223-InnAtCharmouth-262x200A bleak autumn arrives.

Isaac Scatchard, a man of thirty-eight years, has been walking all day through the countryside and comes upon a small inn. He takes a room. The landlord happily closes and fastens the windows and doors, bids him a good night’s sleep. The unsnuffed candle burns down to issue a dull light as Isaac drifts off.

A strange shivering comes upon him.


“Between the foot of his bed and the closed door there stood a woman with a knife in her hand, looking at him.

He was stricken speechless with terror …”


We have three narrators who tell this story of Isaac Scatchard in The Dream-Woman. We begin with a physician who is traveling with a lame horse and in need of a hostler, so he stops at an inn. We meet the landlord of the inn who tells us about poor old Isaac Scatchard, a hollowed, wrinkled man with grizzled hair—a man who sleeps only by the light of day. The physician wonders if there is  something wrong with Isaac’s brain that prevents the man from normal night sleeping.  He decides he must investigate. But investigate Isaac or the power of dreams?


imagesThe full story is told by Isaac’s mother, Mrs. Scatchard, in Chapter Three. She tells us that Isaac’s apparent nightmare of this dream-woman occurred at the precise time and date of Isaac’s birthday at 2 a.m. Superstitious dread or warning? What happens to Isaac? Does he dream of this woman again who tries to stab him?

Like Isaac, you might believe that dreams have power. And you might believe that the elements of dreams are not so frothy as to disappear upon waking. Is there a reality in dreams? Maybe  of prophecy? Or maybe the dream reality is more like destiny?



I adore dream elements in fiction and Wilkie Collins’ The Dream-Woman is a haunting story. You know this author from The Woman in White, The Moonstone; Frozen Deep is his most famous play that he co-wrote with Charles Dickens in 1857.  Collins was known for creating female characters that often showed a masculine side. He is certainly revered for his narrative power in this story. If you’ve ever heard the literary term “sensation genre,” this is the man who started it all.

Collins is one of many writers who uses dreams in stories. There is some speculation that Collins may have had such a dream as Isaac had. Robert Louis Stevenson was said to have based Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on a dream; Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel, The Castle of Otranto came from a dream;  Stephen King found the story of Salem’s Lot in a dream. Everyone knows that Mary Shelley claimed the idea for Frankenstein happened during a dream. I did the same with my novel Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural: I dreamed of a woman alone by the sea and ruled by her nightmares of persistent demon. Was I haunted by a winged creature in my own bedroom? Many nights!

I do believe that dreams contain eerie presences and that they have the power to perform a function in our lives. For Isaac Scatchard, the dream operates on both sides of the shadow.


(William)_Wilkie_Collins_by_Rudolph_LehmannThere are several versions of The Dream-Woman by Wilkie Collins. This version here is  Brother Morgan’s Story of the Dream-Woman  from Queen of Hearts by Wilkie Collins:  Read the text at


Another version is subtitled A Mystery in Four Narratives and begins with the narrative (a longer version) told by the character Percy Fairbanks at 


Or, you can listen to this version in audio, which has four parts on YouTube



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   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed





Filed under Charles Dickens, classic horror stories, Dreams, fiction, horror, literary horror, Night Sea Journey, quiet horror, short stories

Evil Plucked

Wake Not the Dead  by Johann Ludwig Tieck  (1823)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 22, 2014



If you could build a bridge between the living and the dead, would you? In Tieck’s Wake Not the Dead, Walter is in despair. His loving and beautiful wife Brunhilda (love that name) is dead and buried. When we begin this story … “Wilt thou for ever sleep? … Walter’s lamentations over his wife’s death touches deeply. The prose is somewhat formal but wonderfully poetic and for those who love Gothic literature with all the traditional flavors, this is a stunning if not horrific tale.

Our melancholy Walter remarries (Swanhilda) and has children, but he is still haunted by the absence of his lovely Brunhilda. One day, in the neighboring mountains, Walter meets an old sorcerer. Desiring to bridge death with life, Walter employs the magic of this sorcerer to restore his lost Brunhilda.

Then be it even as thou wishest,” answered the sorcerer; “step back.” 


The old man now drew a circle round the grave, all the while muttering words of enchantment. Immediately the storm began to howl among the tops of the trees; owls flapped their wings, and uttered their low voice of omen; the stars hid their mild, beaming aspect, that they might not behold so unholy and impious a spectacle; the stone then rolled from the grave with a hollow sound …”

This story is full of atmospheric conjures as Tieck (1773-1853) wrote a suspenseful and vivid tale. His work as a well-known German romantic poet colors every scene. I must mention that there is some controversy that the true author of this story was Ernst Benjamin Raupach (1784-1852), written in German Lasst die Toten ruhen. I suppose we shall never know for sure who originally wrote Wake Not the Dead or who possibly stole it. I like the mystery behind the authorship though and hunted for just the right portrait of each author. From the expression on their faces below, can you guess what they might say to us about the authorship? Hmm, what a fascinating ghost short story that might make in itself: the accursed struggle between Johann and Ernst, each claiming to be the creator of Wake Not the Dead. Maybe that’s my next short story!



Johann Ludwig Tieck                                                                                                                               Ernst Benjamin Raupach


Read the full text online at Gutenberg Australia.

Listen to the Librivox Recording by Morvan Scorpian.

If you want to read more of Tieck’s work (and I do recommend it), try Tales from Phantasus of Ludwig Tieck: The Mysterious Cup, The Elves, The Love-Charm and many more at




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   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed



Filed under fiction, graveyards, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales

Announcing Night Sea Journey from Crispin Books in Trade Paperback

Greetings! May I share some news?

Crispin Books has just released Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural in trade paperback. Available now at and and soon to be in bookstores and libraries.

Angels and demons, psychological twists, paranormal, romance, and murder make this little supernatural thriller a fast-paced read. “Quiet horror” lovers, this is your read.


***** “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


Still available for Kindle and Nook at $2.99.



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Lady Madeline of Usher

Fall of the House of Usher  by Edgar Allan Poe

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 15, 2014





“His heart is a suspended lute, as soon as it is touched, it resounds.”

So goes the translation of Poe’s opening lines in French by De Beranger. Why am I featuring Poe’s most famous and probably most read short story? Because as the heart resounds, so does this story, just as Poe intended.

Why did Poe write this particular story?.

Once upon a time … oh no, let me rephrase with more modern language for this report that inspired Poe to create the Fall of the House of Usher.


House_of_usherAs it was said … On Boston’s Lewis Wharf during the 1800s, a house stood, named the Usher House. After years of abandonment and decay, the structure was torn down. In the rubble, and in the deepest part of the cellar, behind a rusted iron gate two skeletons were found. Their boney remains intertwined each other in an embrace. Local gossip pointed to the couple’s adulterous rendezvous, apparently trapped in the cellar by the woman’s avenging husband. Romantic? Grisly? Or something else.

Clearly something else, as Poe redeveloped this report into a story suggesting vampirism, incest, murder, and the horror of being trapped and abandoned to die.



The Fall of the House of Usher  is a fiction with high symbolism of splits and fissures, mad reflections, and grim resoundings at every turn.

From the beginning lines—

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.”


To the ending scene—

“… a blood-red moon … a fierce breath of the whirlwind … the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently…”

There’s a heartbeat of madness throbbing here and you are pulled deeper into the disquieting rhythms. Our narrator discovers an occult presence growing not only within the house and gardens but also within Roderick Usher who is obsessed with the “grim phantasm, FEAR.






But it’s Lady Madeline Usher I am focused on today. We meet her only three times and she never utters a single word. Is she even real? Might she be a ghost? Madeline is said to be of cataleptic nature. Roderick claims she is his twin sister. Does the heart resound more in siblings and even more so in twins?


In full Poe fashion of psychological drama (some melodrama of course), Madeline holds the true mystery in this story. Come and spend some time with Roderick and his sister. Let our narrator point out the clues of fissures and collapses of not only the crumbling Usher House, but of Roderick and Madeline’s very souls.


.I think one of the most entertaining ways to appreciate this story is to read along with an audio version. Let the sound of Poe’s language throb into your mind. Let the words on the page drive the images vividly. Add candlelight. And sit by a dark window.


Read the full text at XRoads at Virginia Edu.


Listen to the audio at AudioTreasury, Librivox Recording. Scroll down to No. 4 on the black selection box. Recorded by Eden Rae Hedrick. (An excellent reading! I like this one the best.)


This link here at Lit2Go (44 minutes) has both the text and audio on one page but the reading is not as expressive as Eden Rae Hedrick’s above at Audio Treasury.


Watch the adapted film version by MGM with Vincent Price and Myrna Fahey.



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   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed








Filed under classic horror stories, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, short stories, tales of terror

Midwest Book Review

Greetings!  Are you interested in book review publications? Do you like to advocate literacy and libraries?

Then you must take a look at Midwest Book Review. They started in 1976 as an online monthly publication aimed at librarians, booksellers, as well as the general reading public. Its mission is to promote literacy and library usage. They just reviewed my novel The Dazzling Darkness.

Midwest Book Review   April 8, 2014

“Paula Cappa is a master of the metaphysical mystery genre. “The Dazzling Darkness” documents her as an extraordinary and original storyteller of the first rank. Very highly recommended, it should be noted that “The Dazzling Darkness” is also available in a Kindle edition. Also strongly recommended is Cappa’s previous metaphysical novel “Night Sea Journey: A Tale of the Supernatural.”

They published the following book review magazines: The Bookwatch, The California Bookwatch, Library Bookwatch, MBR Bookwatch, Small Press Bookwatch, Wisconsin Bookwatch.

Editor-in-Chief James A. Cox talks about the history and policies of the Midwest Book Review, and he also answers some important questions about the craft and ethics of book reviewing:



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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, literary horror, quiet horror, The Dazzling Darkness

Talk of Ghosts

To Be Read At Dusk  by Charles Dickens (1852)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 8, 2014


display_imageDusk: darkness rises, light fades. What hides in the approaching subtle shadows? If you’re a reader of ghost stories, this is certainly a Dickens’ story to explore — being haunted and not just by a ghost, but by the conjuring of words that triple play on your imagination. If you’re a writer of ghost stories, this is certainly a Dickens’ story to examine — for art and craft. To Be Read At Dusk is not one of Dickens’ more popular stories, and I seemed to have dug it up as if the story itself were a ghost unwilling to come forward. I read the story once, then listened to the audio version, then read it again along with the audio. And there is something in that power of three encounters with this ghost story that it kept growing for me, redelivering itself.

Charles Dickens uses simile (likeness, comparing one thing with another: she is as brave as a lion) throughout this story in supernatural  and symbolic ways. The story is literally constructed with likenesses all over the place—which is the key to the mystery.

Our story opens on top of a mountain in Switzerland with five (5, make no mistake) couriers (German, Swiss, Neapolitan, and Genoese) chatting as they sit on a bench … “looking at the remote heights, stained by the setting sun as if a mighty quantity of red wine had been broached upon the mountain top, and had not yet had time to sink into the snow.”

Our narrator is sitting on another bench nearby listening to the couriers chat. He makes a point “… also like them, looking at the reddened snow, and at the lonely shed hard by, where the bodies of belated travellers, dug out of it, slowly wither away, knowing no corruption in that cold region.


Bodies? Buried under the snow? Might that red wine be like blood images by the light of the setting sun? What happens when the sun sets?

Two of the couriers each tell a ghost story. One of an English bride who dreams of a dark threatening face. The other story is of twin brothers and death. As the story unfolds, you’ll hear the ongoing debate among the couriers of what is a ghost, what is like a ghost, and what is not a ghost. Phantoms, premonitions, and doppelgangers abound, but something else announces itself. The ending is so subtle you might well miss what it’s like to be a ghost.




Read Dickens’ To Be Read At Dusk at Online-Literature.


Listen to the audio at Librivox Recording





And if you are still up for more of Dickens, his essay, Night Walks (1861) is a spooky stroll through the London streets at midnight. We forget that Dickens didn’t just write fiction. Sleepless nights, what he calls “houselessness” reflects his observations that I found vivid and chilling, and oh do I ever wish I might have walked the streets of London in the 1860s.


Read Night Walks at






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   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Art Credits:

Winter Night in the Mountains,  by  Harald Oskar Sohlberg

Snowy Hut,  by Caspar David Friedrich


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Filed under Charles Dickens, fiction, ghost stories, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of an Accidental Shaman

If you are fascinated by Lovecraft’s fiction, this is a fascinating and informative article.  From Lovecraft Ezine, one of my favorite sites.


H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of an Accidental Shaman.



Filed under classic horror stories, horror, horror blogs, Lovecraft, tales of terror

A Bloody Hand Upon Her Cheek

The Birthmark   by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1846)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 1, 2014



Georgiana,” said he, “has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?” … Her husband tenderly kissed her cheek—her right cheek—not that which bore the impress of the crimson hand.”

Aylmer, Georgianna’s husband, is a man of science with a powerful intelligence and imaginative spirit that guides his work. But his love for his splendid and beautiful young wife drives him to a deed we might all want him to succeed in—or do we?

Georgianna was born with a birthmark, a rather fierce-looking tiny bloody hand print on her left cheek. Folklore explains it might have been imprinted by a fairy as a token of magical endowments. Aylmer has other thoughts on this and sees it more as a symbol of sin or even decay and death.


One night Aylmer has a dream … “He had fancied himself with his servant Aminadab, attempting an operation for the removal of the birthmark; but the deeper went the knife, the deeper sank the hand, until at length its tiny grasp appeared to have caught hold of Georgiana’s heart; whence, however, her husband was inexorably resolved to cut or wrench it away.”

If anyone can effectively use dreams in fiction, it’s Hawthorne.

“When the dream had shaped itself perfectly in his memory, Aylmer sat in his wife’s presence with a guilty feeling. Truth often finds its way to the mind close muffled in robes of sleep, and then speaks with uncompromising directness of matters in regard to which we practise an unconscious self-deception during our waking moments. Until now he had not been aware of the tyrannizing influence acquired by one idea over his mind, and of the lengths which he might find in his heart to go for the sake of giving himself peace.”

As the story flows, the horrors of tampering with Mother Nature prevail: “Dearest Georgiana, I have spent much thought upon the subject,” hastily interrupted Aylmer. “I am convinced of the perfect practicability of its [birthmark] removal.”

And so, Aylmer, attempts to remove the birthmark, using an elixir  he has developed in his laboratory. Watch out for Aminadab, the lab assistant, an ape-like man whose presence represents more than just a servant.


Is there really any true perfection in our world? If there is perfection, where does it exist? This tale by Hawthorne is just as timely today as it was in the 1800s. Self-image, acceptance, fear vs. trust, and the mystery of Mother Nature are beautifully foreshadowed throughout the prose. I suggest listening to the audio as Hawthorne’s language in this story is truly a thrilling experience. Every paragraph vibrates with deep spirituality and a haunting last impression.



Read the full text of The Birthmark at Classic


Listen to the audio version at Storm-Nemesis Blogspot


Watch the 2010 film adaptation by Mikael Kreuzriegler and Ken   Rodgers at This is not exactly true to Hawthorne’s fine prose but still an intriguing 16-minute film.



You might also like Hawthorne’s short story  The Haunted Mind, a vivid and eerie dreamscape featured here in January 2013.



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   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed



Filed under classic horror stories, Dreams, fiction, Hawthorne, psychological horror, short stories