Book Reviews

The Dazzling Darkness

TheDazzling Darkness_CMYK color profile_with medal-2Cappa

Midwest Book Review    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.”


Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews    Bronze Medal Winner 2014 ★★★★★

★★★★★ “In The Dazzling Darkness by Paula Cappa, the Old Willow Cemetery is under the watch of its mysterious keeper, Elias Hatch. On March 20, when 5-year-old Henry Brooke fails to come home with his older sister, Detective Mike Balducci turns his attention to Hatch, and he’s about to discover the secret of the old cemetery.

After reading The Dazzling Darkness I am pleasantly amazed with Paula Cappa’s beautiful and high standard writing style from start to finish. The pacing of the story is excellent, allowing me to really savor the plot. Cappa includes science, the afterlife, faith, mystery and even magic — it is a comprehensive supernatural fiction which will delight the readers. I am not thoroughly familiar with transcendental philosophy, but I did gain more understanding of it through this novel. I could not help but think that Cappa might have some experience that motivated her to — if I may say — interpret Emerson’s “Nature” in her own way.

The Old Willow Cemetery is a perfect place to ponder on transcendence. The inclusion of poetry adds a nostalgic and classic quality to the story. The characters are very well-developed and it is evident that Paula Cappa gives enough attention to each of them. The settings have a tight descriptive element to easily let readers imagine each scene. The ending is perfect, where everything is tied up together flawlessly. All in all, a superb and classy supernatural novel from Paula Cappa. Readers will be both entertained and enlightened as well.”

Gothic Readers’ Book Club Choice Award Winner    2013 ★★★★★

★★★★★ “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.”


Rave Reviews   July 2014 ★★★★★

One of my new favorites, THE DAZZLING DARKNESS took me on a roller coaster ride I really didn’t want to be on, had the opportunity to jump off of at any time, but I couldn’t, because it was a ride I wanted to finish.  I was so moved by the incredible tale of this missing child.  Being the mom that I am, the “kind” of mom that I am, I am pretty often terrified of something happening to my babies and so maybe that is why I stuck with this book til the end.  Just when you figured out “whodunit,” Paula threw you a new curve to keep you on your toes and to prove that she was the puppet master here, and we were all following her lead.   I found myself getting upset with the author, saying out loud “OK, get to the end!  Who did it?  Where is he?” I had to realize that she was not around to hear my tongue lashings I was directing at her, but at the same time, I was praising her incredible work.  Absolute perfection is what I’ve labeled this book and a must read for anyone who wants to believe in the unbelievable, and for those who doubt that Indie authors could ever hold a bestselling title.

Wesley Thomas,   2013 ★★★★★

★★★★★ “Immediately this novel captures your focus and provokes your inner inquisitive nature. You are first introduced to an abnormal character who spends the majority of his time in a cemetery, Elias Hatch, and just as his personality is intricately depicted, we are flown to the exotic and cultural Italy. Two mysterious men grab the reader with a hook and instantly pull them into an intriguing situation. Then tragedy strikes in Concord, Massachusetts, when the Brooke family discover their child, Henry, is missing, which catapults the story into a hectic police investigation, exploring every possible angle, interviewing several suspects and uncovering hidden truths.

“It is an intelligently written book that keeps you alert to facts and names you suspect may be later referred to, or be a valuable clue in this mind-boggling puzzle.

“I adored the distinguishing character features in this novel, especially the more eccentric characters that are instantly recognised by a hairstyle or type of clothing, or physical affliction. Although Elias is initially presented as the antagonist we often get the sense that he is simply misunderstood and just very odd. Also, with history of his family and their acquaintances being unveiled regularly, all arrows begin to point to a strange supernatural explanation to the child’s disappearance, that Elias is aware of, but not responsible for.

“The parents’ frustration is truly felt at their everlasting struggle of constant false leads to their boy’s whereabouts; the characters appear so real in their ruthless determination at finding their son at any cost. Each time a clue is found you feel yourself becoming excited that this may be the one clue they needed to locate Henry. A few moments also show the emotional impact that a missing child has on the entire family, with dramatic arguments, as well as irrational and often extremely dangerous behaviour.

The insertion of poetry maintains a classical tone to the book, some parts were vaguely reminiscent to ‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens, specifically the cemetery scenes. Furthermore the biblical flashbacks provide the reader with a religious insight and perspective to the current disaster. Some of which can be perceived as metaphorical comparisons to current events and also insinuating future events. The biblical feel of the book was not unlike ‘The Davinci Code’, with the historical tales of a saint and how her travels and discoveries relate to the case of the missing child and all the enigma that surrounds it.

“This book is an inventive combination of crime, drama, horror and religion. It was incredibly informative and you not only receive a sense of pleasure from reading the book, you feel more educated in the world of religions. It is riveting, and becomes an excellent game of whodunnit with unusual characters and creepy revelations weaved into the story.

The exploration of another world further than our own, a spiritual world, which has a set of rules contrasting greatly from reality, adds another dimension to this magnificent read.

The climax to this book is superbly satisfying, it not only ties all the current knots in the plot, but the importance of the flashbacks and insertions of poetry are revealed. However there are some mysteries that remain open to interpretation, as they have not been technically answered, but the use of poetry analogies leaves very strong suggestions. Needless to say that this novel will leave a lasting imprint in your mind and open your eyes to a whole new world of fictional possibilities.”

Laura’s Ramblins and Reviews   2013 ★★★★★

★★★★★ “At the gates of Old Willow Cemetery, the twisted vines choke the bald ironworks, their thorny cords crisscrossed into images of wrinkled faces and hoodwinked eyes.” This excerpt is from the prologue. With such visually descriptive writing, Paula hooked me before I got to the first chapter. Young Henry is missing. His sister is burdened with guilt. She only let go of his hand for a moment. The parents are struggling to keep it together as days pass and still no sign of Henry.

Eerie, unnatural occurrences, Henry’s laughter in the tree in the backyard, his voice counting in the cemetery, all point to Elias Hatch, caretaker of the graveyard. Detective Balducci has Elias firmly in his crosshairs. No one can get in or out of the cemetery without Elias knowing, and the tracking dog alerted to Henry’s presence all over the graveyard. He feels sure, if Hatch didn’t do the actual kidnapping, he has knowledge of the crime. But Balducci can’t seem to move forward in the case. “This case is like writing with a black pen on black paper. I can’t see it, but it’s right there in front of me.”

After Balducci’s own strange sighting on the cow path where Henry first went missing he wonders, “Is this an illusion? Or is the fact of the illusion the lead?” He thought again. “What is speaking here?”

The Dazzling Darkness defies a genre. I would say it’s a supernatural mystery/thriller laced with Gothic horror. The author fed me bits and pieces, like bread crumbs. I gobbled them up, knowing they led to some revelations, to answered questions. I would start to get rushed, to speed ahead, but then I would become so engrossed in such things as a description of a new morning or getting started on a new day, that I would pause and reread the scene, visualizing it, feeling the moment.

Much of the story feels like it was written in a long ago era, though it takes place in the present. I wish I could explain it better. It reads like a classic, reminding me of a vintage bottle of wine. I gently lift the bottle from the rack, dust it off, open it and breathe its essence. With bold, fresh, almost poetic writing, I can honestly say, I was beguiled.”

Monster Librarian  July 2013

“In Paula Cappa’s The Dazzling Darkness, what starts out as a simple ghost story develops into a many-layered imaginative tale of the supernatural, science, religion, and love. The story is set in Concord, Massachusetts, an area rich in the transcendentalist philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Antonia and Adam, living near Old Willow Cemetery, are torn apart when their 5 year old son Henry slips away from his sister’s grasp and disappears on his way home from school. The panicked parents suspect Elias Hatch, the secretive cemetery keeper, who happens to be a devotee of Emerson’s philosphy. Restless cemetery residents begin to make appearances, even to Henry’s sister.

Enter Detective Balducci, who has ghosts of his own, doing all he can to help. He even delves into graves with ancient secrets, such as crystal skulls, which emit powers of their own. There are amazing theories of morphogenetic fields of energy in the equation. International intrigue, flashbacks to the early Christian mysticism of St. Helena, and the very nature of death and resurrection all make for a heady tale set against the horrific tension of the search for a missing child.

As in her first novel, Night Sea Journey, Paula Cappa draws upon a time when nature, science and religion existed together in an alchemical mix. Her magical language adds to the otherworldly feel of the book. Recommended.”

Review from best-selling author Amy Belding Brown, author of Mr. Emerson’s Wife.

“The Dazzling Darkness is a fast-paced, sensually vivid novel with an uncommon take on Transcendentalism.  Set in modern-day Concord, Massachusetts, and laced with quotations from Ralph Waldo Emerson, the novel explores the intersection of mystery, Catholicism, and metaphysics.  A missing boy, a cantankerous recluse, an apparently haunted cemetery, a widowed detective, and a 4th century saint are just a few of the elements that combine to make this novel a hard-to-put-down read.  Paula Cappa brings her characters alive with true-to-life dialogue and compelling descriptions. The reader will immediately identify with the boy’s stricken parents and accompany them all the way to the novel’s stunning conclusion. Suspenseful, heart-wrenching, and unique, this novel dazzles. ”

Review from best-selling author Jonathan Stone, author of  Moving Day.

“In Paula Cappa’s paranormal thriller, The Dazzling Darkness, the spirit of Dan Brown meets the darkest and most somber ruminations of Ralph Waldo Emerson. And while the story ranges fluently across time and across the globe—from ancient Rome  to modern Italy to the American Transcendentalists—it is centered in an old cemetery in Concord Massachusetts, and a neighboring family’s struggle with unleashed forces that they cannot understand: the intersection and tension between the seen and the unseen; between the manifest and the spiritual; between love and loss.  In smooth, highly descriptive prose, Cappa explores transcendence and eternity— sending a shiver down your spine all along the way.  This is Paula Cappa’s territory, and her slant on them will bedevil your sleep and dreams as it does those of her characters.”

Review from Leigh M. Lane, author of Finding Poe.

“The Dazzling Darkness is a lovely mesh of mystery and the supernatural that blends myth and reality in a way that is both bittersweet and breathtaking.”

Review from Cathryn McIntyre, author of Honor in Concord: Seeking Spirit in Literary Concord and the upcoming, Thoreau’s Wise Silence.

“In her book The Dazzling Darkness, Paula Cappa captivates the reader from the start.  The action begins immediately when a boy named Henry goes missing in Concord, Massachusetts. It is a complex story that encompasses history, the occult, legend, science and metaphysical philosophy and presents a unique and fascinating perspective. I would caution the reader not to take all references to Emerson’s life and beliefs as factual, but in The Dazzling Darkness Paula Cappa succeeds in creating a fictional story that takes the reader on an adventure into dark and mysterious places.  If you are looking for a book to read that you can’t put down you’ve found it.”

SatinPaperbacks on Amazon UK

“Dazzling Darkness by Paula Cappa is a supernatural adventure where you join a family’s consternation for their young son who suddenly disappears on his way home from school. But do not be misled for this is no ordinary tale. With Henry lost the concern is so great that all the townsfolk pitch out to look for him, and yet when they find a trail in the old cemetery why does it go cold? The answers come in extraordinary but believable ways.

This is a great story steeped in fulsome imagination from Paula Cappa who takes you on a veritable journey of misdirection, twists and turns that draw you into the family’s path of discovery. Gripping and absorbing, this is worth your time and hopefully we will see much more from Paula in the future.”

Click on the bookseller to purchase The Dazzling Darkness

Ebook and trade paperback, published by Crispin Books

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Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural


CappaNightSeaJourneyERICHFinalSept (1)


U.S. Review of Books  “Father Raymond Kera’s request to be released from the priesthood is denied. Raymond spinelessly adheres to the instructions from the Vatican to do carpentry at St. Gregory’s Church on a remote area of Horn Island. Raymond encounters the dreamscape artist Kip Livingston when he inquires about one of her apocalyptic-looking paintings entitled “Night Sea Journey.” After divulging her relentlessly terrifying nightmares to Raymond, Kip asks him to stay the night, and for the first time she experiences a peaceful sleep. But as Raymond analyzes detailed aspects of Kip’s nightmares, a bizarre set of circumstances unfolds, especially when Raymond enters Kip’s hellish yet realistic dreams. Awarding-winning author and short story writer Paula Cappa spins Biblical exegesis within a paranormal framework focused on themes of redemption and end times. Cappa’s stunning and absorbing plot is filled with all the elements that catapult her third-person narrative on par with—if not better than—a Dan Brown novel. Cappa zeroes in on a small yet extremely well-developed cast (Raymond and Kip) that is tightly surrounded by a good handful of foiled characters. Chief among Cappa’s foiled collection is Father Garcia. Garcia has his own set of challenges. Nonetheless, Garcia and Raymond have a diehard friendship that plays a critical role in both their spiritual journeys. Concurrently, Raymond’s relationship with Kip builds. Aside of long-awaited steamy moments, the ever-elusive Kip also has a spiritual effect on Raymond’s life. Cappa handles scriptural references on love and forgiveness and its interconnection with Heaven and Hell, as well as angels and demons, with incredible skill. Cappa’s persistence to shifting character scenes in the midst of celestial and malevolent beings leaves readers in a constant mind-boggling eschatological and good-versus-evil tizzy. Truly an outstanding read, Night Sea Journey is one book that is hard to put down! RECOMMENDED by the USR

From Eric Hoffer Book Award Reviews: “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery. In the gothic world of this novel, dreams bleed into reality, as protagonists Kip Livingston, a painter, and Raymond Kera and Father Garcia, two Roman Catholic priests are drawn into a clash between the angels and demons of Hebrew mythology. Each of these characters has visions—either nightmarish or heavenly—which seem to graft themselves into their waking lives. The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict, which is as much about finding inner forgiveness as it is about finding outward peace.

San Francisco Book Review   2014 ★★★★★

“Kip has nightmares that would institutionalize most. In fact, her shrink thinks she is hallucinating. Her nightmares are real though: each nightmare brings forth real creatures trying to kill her and ends with their death at her hands, with their corpses buried in the dunes and surrounding area. Night Sea Journey is like reading a Dan Brown book with a wicked twist: it has real demons. Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride. The story itself is excellent and impossible to put down; it is a fast-paced thriller where reality is blurred and faith is tested, guaranteeing to keep you enthralled until the very last word. There is definitely re-readability with Night Sea Journey that you will want to discover for yourself.”

Freelance Novel Reviews by Wesley Thomas,  July 2014 ★★★★★

***** “This novel has a great deal of depth and diversity in all possible ways … a range of themes and issues explored: isolation, supernatural, abandonment, horror, crime, love, lust, dissolution, the subconscious, and so on. All of which are intertwined in this enthralling 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 things about the book.” ★★★★★ “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.” ★★★★★ “Beautifully told. Cappa is a skilled writer producing beautiful prose with amazing imagery.”

Monster Librarian “Quite an enchanting tale, weaving together ancient Biblical supernaturalism and dream theory, told in dreamy colorful language, with deft characterizations. Highly recommended.”

Review from JAMES HULBERT, author of A Kiss Before You Leave Me. “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.” –

Review from TERESA KENNEDY, author of In the Country of No Compassion, and  co-founder of Village Green Press, LLC.  “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!”

Review from JUDITH REVEAL, author of The Brownstone. “Night Sea Journey is a startling story that captures the reader from the first page, through strong character development and a robust vocabulary. Paula Cappa’s characters are three-dimensional – the kind the reader remembers long after the story has been read. Her descriptions of setting bring the story to life in the mind’s eye, while her dialogue flawlessly carries the story from one stage to the next.  Cappa joins fantasy with religion to both captivate and intrigue. Her narrative draws the reader through the fantasy of dream terrors with disconcerting clarity. This story is a fast read that holds one’s attention from beginning to end.”

Review from KAY LALONE, Goodreads Book Reviewer. ★★★★★ “I loved it from the very beginning and all the way to the end. Paula took me on a journey through Kip’s dreams of angels and demons. Or were they Kip’s dreams? Great visual descriptive writing let me see Kip’s paintings and let me experience the dreams along with Raymond, a priest who just met Kip. Toward the end of the book, Raymond asks this question to a friend. “Do you think its possible for a dream, a dream that is so powerful, so full of desire that the dream is capable of manifesting its elements into our world?” It’s a great question. If you want to know the answer, I suggest you read Night Sea Journey by Paula Cappa. I’m facinated with dreams and the supernatural, so this story fired my imagination.”

Review from Monster Librarian  “Highly Recommended. In her grandfather’s house by the Rhode Island coast, Kip paints her beautiful but monster-filled seascapes by day and is haunted by demon-filled dreams at night. Meanwhile, in Chicago, two priests battle urban drug culture, their own inner doubts, and the Church’s strictures. One of the priests, Ray, is exiled to Kip’s area, where he falls for the beautiful artist, and is drawn into her nightmares, which seem to come true by day. Together they delve into the history of Abasteron House (named for the angel) and Kip’s grandfather’s lineage, ultimately becoming players in a pantheon of angels and demons. I found this quite an enchanting tale, weaving together ancient Biblical supernaturalism and dream theory, told in dreamy colorful language, with deft characterizations.”

Click the bookseller to purchase Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural.

Ebook and tradepaperback, published by Crispin Books.


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8 responses to “Book Reviews

  1. Wow- what an impressive list of excellent reviews! Are you on Goodreads too?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May I add you to my Book Reviewers blogroll?


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