Monthly Archives: May 2014

A Devilish Fine Woman

The Romance of Certain Old Clothes   by Henry James (1886)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 27, 2014



Romance of Certain Old Clothes is about female sexual rivalry. Two sisters are deliciously jealous of one another. We are in Massachusetts in the country home of the Wingrave family [in some versions the Willoughby family]. Perdita and Rosalind [in some versions Rosalind is renamed Viola] are both attractive young women with an older brother.

Rosalind “is tall and white, with calm gray eyes and auburn tresses; a very faint likeness to the Rosalind of Shakespeare’s comedy.” And a tad plump, she is, with a cold eye on everything around her. Perdita is the sweetest and has “the cheek of a gipsy and the eye of an eager child, as well as the smallest waist and lightest foot.”



Mr. Arthur Lloyd arrives, a handsome gentleman, rich in sterling pounds,good health, well educated, and a traveler.

Poor Arthur, for he is compelled to choose between the two sisters for his bride. At one point you might wonder if the man is falling in love with both beauties. Hmmm, this smacks of an odd threesome, but we are in Victorian times in New England so that Puritan repression holds Mr. Lloyd in place.




A drama takes center stage between Rosalind and Perdita for this prize marriage, and of course for property—the theme of possessions run high as does the desire to be Mr. Lloyd’s object of beauty in fine dresses and jewels. Who does Mr. Lloyd carry off as his wife to his new estate? I’ll never tell.



Don’t miss the irony, the intrigue, the clever ambiguity that is Henry James’ signature; he gives us a well-crafted psychological ghost story, and so very Gothic. In the end, one of the sisters has a most sinister win.



imagesHenry James wrote this story when he was in his twenties and this was his first attempt at supernatural fiction.


Read The Romance of Certain Old Clothes at

Listen to the audio recording (scroll to Number 9) at



Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

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     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


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


First image above is by Francios Boucher 1770s.

Bottom image is by Jakab Marastoni Woman Seated before a Mirror 1840s.



Filed under fiction, ghost stories, literature, psychological horror, short stories, tales of terror

Death Isn’t Sufficient

The Brown Hand   by Arthur Conan Doyle (1889) Since this week is Doyle’s anniversary birth date, May 22, let’s celebrate this author by reading more of his work.

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 20, 2014


135-Wordsworth's-House,-Rydal-Mount-q75-231x200-1Do you know what binds a soul to its body after death? Is there a tether of some kind? Some driving emotion?

Sir Dominick Holden is a distinguished Indian surgeon. He lives with his wife in Rodenhurst on an estate. During an English autumn, his nephew, Dr. Hardacre, our narrator, visits him in Rodenhurst. Hardacre is also a member of the Psychical Research Society with a special interest in the supernatural. Sir Dominick confides in Hardacre that he is struggling with a case of nerves from something that is surely haunting his laboratory.

Hardacre enters the laboratory and observes a shelf filled with glass jars containing  anatomical specimens of patients: organs, cysts, bones, etc.


Sir Dominick asks his nephew, “It would be a great kindness upon your part if you would consent to spend the night in this apartment.” Hardacre agrees. He shuts the laboratory door behind him, lies down on the settee and in a rigid and absolute silence he observes a three-quarter moon streaming through the windows until he drifts off. A shuffling sound awakens him.



The Brown Hand is one of A.C. Doyle’s stories that can be traced to his avidly following the psychical research of the 1870s and 1880s. Doyle read more than 60 books on the subject, attended séances regularly, and was a friend of Harry Houdini. The image featured here is of Doyle with ghosts goggles from the Society of Psychical Research in 1896. The goggles became part of Dr. Cagliostro’s Cabinet of Curiosities’ investigations of a series of mysterious events at The Castle of Läckö in 1943.

Doyle became a believer in spiritualistic phenomena and wrote fourteen supernatural short stories and four supernatural novels. Of course, he’s most famous for his detective novels, Sherlock Holmes. But today, we are focusing on his supernatural stories.


You can read the full text of The Brown Hand at Ebooks

Listen to The Brown Hand in audio here by Librivox. Roger Clifton does an outstanding dramatic reading.

As a bonus, I’m adding more stories to this week’s post, Selecting a Ghost, 1883, subtitled The Ghosts of Goresthorpe Grange. The D’Odds’ family feudal mansion does not have a ghost. Ah, what’s a country mansion with no ghost? Mr. D’Odd genuinely wants a ghost for his castle. He is so driven to achieve this, he hires a ghost-dealer who promptly arrives with a curious black bag. And the ghost hunting begins.0493_1

Read this very entertaining little ghost story at


You might want to experience Doyle’s first published story The Mystery of Sasassa Valley in 1879, a fantasy about the fluorescence of diamonds.


 A Literary Mosaic  is another supernatural story. Also The Silver Hatchet,  and  The Leather Funnel, which were featured here at Tales of Terror in January and April of 2013.



Do you have a favorite Doyle story? Please post your thoughts, suggestions, comments.

Arthur Conan Doyle  May 22 1859 – July 7, 1930

“There was something awesome in the thought of the solitary mortal standing by the open window and summoning in from the gloom outside the spirits of the nether world.

The Official Web Site of Arthur Conan Doyle:






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


Don’t forget to view the INDEX above for more free classic authors of Tales of Terror


Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, literature, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

Haunted Oleron

The Beckoning Fair One   by Oliver Onions (1911)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    May 13, 2014


TheBeckoningFairOne120X120In a house full of shadows, would you know your own shadow?

Paul Oleron is a writer, creatively frustrated with his manuscript named Romilly Bishop about a heroine who is winsome and adorable, and maybe a tad plump. He finds himself stuck at Chapter Fifteen. With the goal of finishing his novel, he rents a house (a gloomy red brick house with a broken gate), moves in and begins his struggle to finish the story. But the house begins to create its own story.

“A shadow, light as fleece, seemed to take shape in the kitchen … The low illumination on the blind at his elbow grew dimmer … a flower fell from a bowl, and lay indistinct upon the floor; all was still; and then a stray draught moved through the old house, passing before Oleron’s face. . . .”

In no time the haunted Oleron, decides to burn the manuscript and begin again, recreating the heroine into something else. But his dearest friend, the winsome and adorable, and a tad plump, Elsie Bengough, suggests keeping the heroine exactly as is. Oleron is torn as to how to proceed. When Elsie endures the wrath of this odd and haunting shadow present in the house, Oleron decides he must sever his relationship with Elsie and sends her away.

images-2Utterly alone in the house, with shadows and whisperings, Oleron grows weak and exhausted, and more deeply frustrated with his failure to write.

“Once or twice he called “Romilly!”

Who is Romilly now? He realizes, of course, the key to finishing the book is to recreate Romilly as jealous, wicked, beautiful, cunning, and altogether evil.

The Beckoning Fair One is as much a romance as it is a ghost story as it is psychological terror. Does Elsie return to Oleron? Will Oleron complete the novel? Who exactly is Romilly?

If you’re a writer, as I am, and create evil characters in your manuscripts, you will enjoy this thrilling story by Oliver Onions.

NPG x29759; (George) Oliver Onions by Emil Otto ('E.O.') HoppÈ


We writers love to feel our characters alive on the page. But what would happen if we become too deeply involved with an evil character and steeped in the creative process? Possession? Projection? Obsession? Creativity vs. insanity vs the supernatural is an exciting theme and Onions does it successfully with a smooth hand. In its era, The Beckoning Fair One was considered to be the best in the genre in psychological horror.

Read the full text at University of Penn. org.   The story is a bit longer  (novella length) than most that I feature here. Settle in; allow the story to fold over you as it moves along with a good pace of suspense.



Listen to the Librivox Recording. I liked this recording but, again, settle in because it’s over two hours. I think it would go well with a savory hot dinner and a very rich dessert!

If you do read this story, do leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your reaction to this classic tale.


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


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



Filed under fiction, ghost stories, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror

Faces Thinned In Shadows

The Stolen Body   by H.G. Wells (1898)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 6, 2014




Astral projection, apparitions, self-hypnosis, psychical research, thought transference, dreams, and the mysteries of the pineal eye. Do you believe in the science of the body? Time travel? These days we might think of laser lights, atomic particles, frame dragging, time loops. So, what about the science of the astral body? gyroscope2Do you think that the astral body can travel to other realms?

Our characters, scientific investigator Mr. Bessel and his associate Mr. Vincey engage in an exploration into the supernatural powers of the mind and the paranormal elements of outer realms.

Mr. Bessel is on a mission to project his own apparition to Mr. Vincey at a distant location. The first attempt fails. Well, or course, we expected that. But subsequent attempts prove worthy when Mr. Bessel goes missing. Scotland Yard is summoned. However, this fails as well.


When Mrs. Bullock, the medium, is summoned a séance is held.



Let me just say one more thing …

Mr. Bessel finds himself trapped in a cloud of the evil spirit world that is void of all sound. He discovers faces in thinned shadows with frenzied clutching hands. Do you think Bessel’s exploration might be a success? Think again.


H.G. Wells conjures an amazing story that has exceptional effects while listening to the audio format. HG-Wells-001

This story, or should I say “report” is perfect for a read-aloud. The narrative has a subtle clinical aspect, which make for chilling fiction.

Listen to the YouTube audio (wonderful!) at Chapter Vox

Read the full text at OnlineLiterature



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

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above to search for more classic authors and their tales.





Filed under fiction, horror, paranormal, quiet horror, short stories

Announcing Five Winners of The Dazzling Darkness ShelfAwareness Giveaway!


I’m happy to post the names of my five winners for a FREE copy of The Dazzling Darkness. Thanks to all who participated.  I chose the names at random.

Congratulations to the following readers:

Heidi Daum

Nancy Smith

Karl Stenger

Victoria Miner

Olga Romero

Signed copies will be mailed out Monday, May 5, 2014.

This free book drawing has been an exciting experience for me, communicating with so many readers who are not only interested in the supernatural and The Dazzling Darkness but also Ralph Waldo Emerson. So many of you made lovely comments about Emerson, Concord, and transcendentalism in your entries for the drawing.

At book signings and interviews I’ve been asked many times, Why is Ralph Waldo Emerson important in this story?  My answer: “Emerson is not a live character, nor is he a ghost, although his presence is “felt” by the characters. Emerson’s thoughts and transcendental teachings act as a creative energy for the characters Elias Hatch, Detective Mike Balducci and even Antonia Brooke. rwe_concord_ma_06

 “This novel actually developed from a line in one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays in his address called Nature. He wrote … “Even the corpse has its own beauty.

 “Shocking statement, right? The more I read about Emerson’s personal experiences with death, the more the story began to take shape. Emerson lost his young wife Ellen only a short time after they were married. He buried her in the family vault and a year later, still driven by intense grief, he opened her coffin. What a heart-breaking experience. And then twenty-five years later, after his young son dies at five-years-old, Emerson opened his coffin as well. These images all connected for me: images of a cemetery, images of a boy named Henry suddenly appeared, coffins opening. The story just unraveled in a very exciting way and Emerson was that foundation.”

What’s next for me? Besides Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural just released from Crispin Books, I have two short stories, Beyond Castle Frankenstein (historical fiction about Mary Shelley), and A Terrible Beauty (Lovecraftian horror). Watch for posts here as to where and when they will be published. And yes, I am working on another novel and several short stories.

To my readers, I am always grateful for your reviews on, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords, or Goodreads. Speaking of Goodreads, if you are a member, do stop by my Goodreads Book Page and become my friend.

Or hang out here at my blog, Reading Fiction, Tales of Terror for a FREE classic short story every Tuesday. Check out the Index of Authors’ Tales of Terror from the tabs above to select a short story by one of your favorite classic authors featured here in the past year. Explore my free short stories, or sample the opening chapters of Night Sea Journey.

Do you have a comment or question about a character or storyline in one of my novels or short stories? I’d love to hear from you! Every page on the tabs above has comment boxes, so please feel free to post your thoughts.

Again, my gratitude to all for participating in The Dazzling Darkness giveaway at

Wishing you all the best in your reading endeavors,


PaulaCappaphoto1New Image

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Filed under fiction, quiet horror