Monthly Archives: September 2015

Phantom of the Music

Phantom of the Opera   by Gaston Leroux  (1911)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 29, 2015

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In the kingdom of phantoms, ghosts, and the shadowy depths, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux remains one of the most memorable and popular ghostly thrillers of all time. Even today this novel is still on the Amazon’s Kindle best seller list (#77 as of 9-27-15; buy here on Amazon.com for only 99 cents). Theatrical superstitions, ghostly apparitions, and the mystery of the music are a powerful combination for fiction. Published in 1911, Leroux was inspired to write this story after visiting a Paris opera house when a chandelier fell on the audience in 1896. Actor Lon Chaney starred in the film in 1924 and the life of this novel went on to film and Broadway audiences and is still running at full speed at the Majestic Theatre in New York.

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Our story begins at the Paris opera house with the Prologue’s opening line “The opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination …”

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Most of us know the story of the phantom hiding his face behind a mask and how he falls in love with the beauty Christine Daae. This singer is in love with Raoul, Vicomte De Chagny. A triangular love affair mixes with passion, jealousy, revenge, possession, and the pain of loneliness.

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The New York Times Book Review called it  “The wildest and most fantastic of tales.”  And so it is.

Read the FREE novel Phantom of the Opera at the LiteratureProject.com.

Listen to the Librivox dramatic recording at Librivox.com

 

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Leroux wrote other stories. His first story was The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907). A “locked room” mystery. Mademoiselle Stangerson retires to bed in the Yellow Room. Suddenly revolver shots echo through the house and she screams for help. Her father and a servant run to the locked room where they find the wounded girl – alone. The only other exit, a barred window.

Read  The Mystery of the Yellow Room at OnlineLiterature.com

The Secret of the Night (1914) is  another short novel about a journalist in Russia who partly resembles Inspector DuPin (Poe) and Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle).

Read The Secret of the Night at OnlineLiterature.com

 

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As a reader and a writer I love the idea of supernatural music, demons, angels, music phantoms. The idea of ghostly presences lurking among the melody and notes draws me in immediately. Many of you are aware my own supernatural musical mystery is about to launch in October. GREYLOCK has just a hint of flavor of Phantom of the Opera.  Here’s an early review:

“Echoing notes of Phantom of the Opera, mixed with Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, and Peter Straub’s Ghost StoryGreylock is a thrilling musical tragedy steeped in lore, mythology, and the madness of composition, leading to a crescendo of epic proportions. Paula Cappa is a gifted author, and this book will have you swooning in the aisles.” —Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration.

 

More early reviews to come … when the leaves fall … GREYLOCK

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

All images public domain from WikiCommons.org

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Lurking Behind the Wharves

The Man With the Twisted Lip  by  A.C. Doyle (Sherlock Holmes Crime Story) 1891

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 22, 2015

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Sherlock Holmes stories are fashionably back! If you’ve been watching PBS’ Sherlock, or Arthur & George, and wanting more of the beloved detective, Arthur Conan Doyle’s  short stories and novels are public domain and easily found on the internet. Besides the nostalgia of old London, the mysterious puzzle, and the immortal duo of Holmes and Watson, we have fiction with a consummate economy of words (unlike the typical Victorian writing at that time), and not a dull sentence or overly descriptive paragraph to thwart the suspense.

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The Man With the Twisted Lip does not take place at 221 Baker Street, but we are taken across London in a hansom cab, rattling over the cobbled streets, through foggy passages of opium dens, and into an adventure with a poor, dirty beggar man on Swamdam Lane. This man with a hideously scarred and mangled face is the only clue to the well known—and missing—Mr. Neville St. Clair of the county of Kent. How Sherlock (he is nearly fooled by this mystery) solves this case is quite a trick.  And a clever turn that is so iconic of the great detective.

 

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Would you like to meet this man with the twisted lip from Swamdam Lane?

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Read the short story  at Gutenberg.org  (scroll down to IV to the title)

 

Listen to the Audio on YouTube. 

 

 

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Watch the film: Granada’s Film via YouTube, John Hawksworth’s The Man with the Twisted Lip, by A.C. Doyle, starring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke.

Watch Parts 1 to 5 on YouTube (60 minutes total time).

 

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And for all you Sherlock hounds who love vintage films …

The Hound of the Baskervilles with Basil Rathbone (1939)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxH2kXib290

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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The Devil Prefers the Sonata in G Minor

The Devil’s Trill,   Giuseppe Tartini (1769)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 15, 2015

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Come meet Giuseppe Tartini, the devil’s son, in the city of Padua, Italy. Giuseppe lived from 1692 to 1770 and is remembered famously for his violin Sonata in G Minor, known as The Devil’s Trill. Besides Giuseppe’s technical skills and the poetic qualities of his music, he is revered  as the godfather of modern violinists. He produced 200 sonatas and concertos but not a single one is comparable to The Devil’s Trill or as famous. Here is his true story as told to French astronomer Jerome Lalande and published in the Voyage d’un Français en Italie in 1769.

“One night I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I desired: my new servant anticipated my every wish. I had the idea of giving him my violin to see if he might play me some pretty tunes, but imagine my astonishment when I heard a sonata so unusual and so beautiful, performed with such mastery and intelligence, on a level I had never before conceived was possible. I was so overcome that I stopped breathing and woke up gasping. Immediately I seized my violin, hoping to recall some shred of what I had just heard; but in vain. The piece I then composed is without a doubt my best, and I still call it “The Devil’s Sonata,” but it falls so far short of the one that stunned me that I would have smashed my violin and given up music forever if I could but have possessed it.”

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Some say it’s just legend. Some say this is a fiction. Some believe that dreams bring us to unknown worlds, just as music does, and that Giuseppe  was touched by the devil when he composed and played this sonata. The sonata is said to have no autograph on the sheet music written in Tartini’s hand.

And what about Paganini? Did he sell his soul to the devil to master the violin? That story is for another Tuesday.

If you like short stories about supernatural music, here is one that will strike the perfect note.

The Music of Erich Zann by H. P. Lovecraft.

Erich Zann is a Renaissance viol-player and a mute with a wrinkled satyr-like face. He lives in the one-windowed garret of the peaked boarding house on the Rue d’Auseil and every night plays his music. Our narrator in this story is a university student of metaphysics. The city is probably Paris, but the name  is not confirmed. The student takes a room in the boarding house on the Rue d’ Auseil, which is a steep and narrow street, a cliff actually that lies beyond the dark river, beyond the bridge made of dark stone—a perfect metaphor for the edge of madness that defines the story.

Read The Music of Erich Zann at HPLovcraft.com.

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Listen to the audio, read by Mike Bennett at YouTube.com

 

 

For you film fans, watch John Strysik’s adaptation in two parts (total time 17 minutes):

Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeMNDhTWJ-o

Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqQWrZFHouA

Oh, and one more thing—while we are talking supernatural music from the other side—do keep in mind  my supernatural thriller about the dark powers of music, Greylock. Release in October.

Pianist Alexei Georg harbors a dark secret—he finds an old Russian sonata in a 19th-century sea chest. When Alexei plays this handsome music, a creature of darkness appears in the audience, in the aisle, and on the stage with him. This is no ghost.

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GREYLOCK … coming soon …

when the leaves fall.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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Dark Magic of Music

Music parallels the occult.

Can the notes we hear lead us into a dark abyss? Composer and music critic E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1882, known as “Ghost Hoffmann”) recognized the mysterious forces in music.  You might remember his name from his opera The Nutcracker. Hoffmann believed that music can “open to man an unknown realm.”  In his famous essay “Beethoven’s Instrumental Music” Hoffmann writes that while Mozart’s music evokes the super-human, Beethoven’s music brings us into the unfathomable … “we see gigantic shadows swaying back and forth” and become “seers of the realm of spirits.”  Nietzsche advises us to listen to music with our muscles. If we did, would we experience these musical shadows? Would we enter a realm of spirits?

Alexei Georg, pianist and composer, listens to music with not only his muscles but with the deepest elements of his mind and soul. What does he discover when he plays a forgotten sonata he found inside an old Russian sea chest? This sheet music carries with it, in Hoffmann’s words, “mists of fear, of horror, of terror.” And I promise you, the darkest of shadows.

Alexei Georg is a young man living in Boston and about to journey into the dark magic of music.

GREYLOCK

Supernatural thriller … soon … when the leaves fall.

MTGR-MA


			

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The Silent Grove

The Idol House of Astarte by Agatha Christie

(The Complete Short Stories of Agatha Christie) 1930s

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  September 1, 2015

 

 

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Silent groves can have a curious oppression. The air is often deep—sometimes thickened—not unlike the pervasive atmosphere of cemeteries or the sudden shifting wind one might feel when walking across someone’s grave.

In The Idol House of Astarte, author Agatha Christie brings us a story from the Tuesday Night Club. We are in the home of Miss Marple in St. Mary Mead with her guests a writer, artist, Scotland Yard commissioner, clergyman,  a lawyer and others. Every Tuesday night one person in the group must tell about a real unsolved mystery.

Dr. Pender, the clergyman, tells his story. At the edge of Dartmoor lies the “Silent Grove.” Relics of the stone age in a grove of trees.

“As we entered the grove of trees a curious oppression came over me. I think it was the silence. No birds seemed to nest in these trees. There was a feeling about it of desolation and horror.”

This is the grove of Astarte.

”Sacred rites,’ murmured Diana Ashley. Her eyes had a dreamy far-away look. ‘What were they, I wonder? “

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There is a murder and Diana becomes the prime suspect. What evidence will they uncover to solve the crime?

 

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My Tales of Terror blog would not be complete without the master  of crime mystery Agatha Christie. I’ve been burning to post one of her stories here, but few are available in public domain in the U.S. Two novels are public domain, published before 1923: The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and The Secret Adversary (1922). But her short stories? I’ve been searching for months and my persistence paid off.

 

Read this crime short story The Idol House of Astarte at Kobo.net/book.

There are more of Christie’s short stories at this Kobo link (Ignots of Gold on page 2; The Bloodstained Pavement on page 4; Motive vs. Opportunity on page 5, which I can personally recommend as a fun puzzle; and many more).

More of Christie’s books are available at Kobo.net/AgathaChristie

Kobo.net is an online reading site from Canada with thousands of eBooks, including new releases and the best collection of free public domain and original books.

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Agatha Christie as a child. At right with her father Frederick Miller.

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[Images: Grove of Olive Trees in Bordighera – Claude Monet.

Figure Amonst the Trees by Jakub Schikaneder. Public Domain.]

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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