Category Archives: Book Reviews

It Is the Haunted Who Haunt

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) for Women In Horror Month 2018

Tuesday’s Tales of Terror   February 13, 2018

Followers of this blog know that ghosts draw us together. We choose to be haunted by reading ghost stories. We are all haunted houses in our own minds. Elizabeth Bowen was a distinguished author of ghost stories, often compared to Henry James and Virginia Woolf for craft.  Some liken her to Alfred Hitchcock. You will find a moral vision and social commentary in all her fine fiction. One thing is certain, whether you think ghosts are not real or ghosts are real nonphysical consciousness, Bowen had total acceptance of the reality of ghosts and the occult—a woman I can certainly identify with for that belief.

 

“Ghosts exploit the horror latent behind reality …. Our irrational darker selves demand familiars …. We are twentieth century haunters of the haunted.”

 

Elizabeth Bowen is my Women In Horror Month selection for 2018, which always includes the finest ghost tale writers. Bowen’s stories are a legacy to the Gothic, Sapphic,  psychological, and the ghostly realms in our minds.  She knew how to use the idea of a ‘living ghost’ a ghost who could appear in one place  and at the same time be a living person walking around in another place. I consider her required reading for any ghost story lover.

 

“Each time I sat down to write a story I opened a door; and the pressure against the other side of that door must have been very great, for things — ideas, images, emotions — came through with force and rapidity, sometimes violence …. Odd enough in their way — and now some seem very odd — they were flying particles of something enormous and inchoate that had been going on. They were sparks from experience—an experience not necessarily my own.”

If you want to read about how she handled cracks in the psyche, read The Demon Lover—paranoia or paranormal in wartime London. You be the judge.

 

 

Her three most famous ghost stories are the following. The Cat Jumps (1934 ), a country house, a previous murder, new owners. The Happy Autumn Fields (1941), a dreamy psychologically damaged young woman’s story akin to Turn of the Screw. Green Holly (1941), the ghost of a woman speaks out on Christmas Eve.

Read the short story The Demon Lover at BiblioKlept.org. 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the audio of The Demon Lover

here on YouTube.com.

 

 

 

You can download her famous novel The Last September. The  story depicts the tensions between love and the longing for freedom, between tradition and the terrifying prospect of independence, both political and spiritual. Life in the 1920s at the country mansion  in Cork during the Irish War of Independence. A young woman’s coming of age in a brutalized time and place, where the ordinariness of life floats like music over the impending doom of history.

Get the FREE ebook here at MaconCountyPark.com.

 

 

 

The 1999 British film, screenplay by John Banville, starring Maggie Smith.

 

 

Do you think it is the haunted who haunts?

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two FREE short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, murder mystery, mysteries, paranormal, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month

GREYLOCK Wins Best Book Award, American Book Fest, 2017

I am very happy to announce …
GREYLOCK wins Best Book Award by American Book Fest 2017. 14th Annual Book Awards: Winners and finalists traverse the publishing landscape: Wiley, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, St. Martin’s Press, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Rowman & Littlefield, New American Library, Forge/Tor Books, John Hopkins University Press, MIT Press and hundreds of independent houses. Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of American Book Fest said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.
“In Greylock, Paula Cappa has written a smart, entertaining supernatural thriller, in which a composer with a damning secret battles a ballerina scorned, while an embittered messenger from the Otherworld demands to be heard. Think Stephen King meets Raymond Chandler with a score by Tchaikovsky. The author’s passion for both the arts and the natural world shines through on every page, while a mysterious composition from old Russia, combined with the majestic songs of the Beluga whale, form the thematic backdrop of the story. Briskly paced and yet lovingly detailed, this novel was a genuine pleasure to read.” —David Corbett, award-winning and best-selling author of The Mercy of the Night.

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Margaret Atwood, Prophet of Dystopian Fiction: The Stone Mattress

The Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

Tuesday’s Tale of Suspense   August 22, 2017

 

“At the outset, Verna had not intended to kill anyone.”

Do you like small horrors? What about quiet horror?  If you’ve never experienced Margaret Atwood’s fiction (she’s written 40 novels and currently quite popular right now with her The Handmaid’s Tale—a misogyist society where women have no rights and are forced to serve as breeders), here’s a fascinating and suspenseful  story to give you an introduction, The Stone Mattress.

Imagine you are on an Arctic cruise and you come into contact with a man who raped you in high school.  What would you say to this person? Would you seek revenge or forgiveness? Come and meet Verna. She is biting and clever as she is beautiful and courageous.

This is a compelling story and my first experience with Atwood’s fiction. I was blown away by this highly intelligent story of drama and intrigue.

 

 

You’ve likely seen lots of promos for the bestselling and critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale,  a film (1990) and the new series now available on Hulu. Atwood is enormously well read, especially by young writers. She began her career as a poet. Her writing is often in women’s-studies curricula; her stories explore issues of morality. The Handmaid’s Tale was on the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 banned books of the decade. Margaret Atwood is considered  to be the prophet of dystopian fiction.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Trailer, film 1990, staring Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Natasha Richardson, Elizabeth McGovern; Screenplay by Harold Pinter.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale Series Trailer on Hulu:

 

 

The Stone Mattress short story is part of  a collection named The Stone Mattress.

Read Margaret Atwood’s short story The Stone Mattress here at NewYorker.com/Magazine.

 

Do leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literary horror, murder mystery, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense

Book Review: The History of Murder by Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson’s The History of Murder (nonfiction)

It has been said that man is the most violent creature on earth.

Read this book and you’ll be convinced this thought is true.  Wilson writes a history of homicide, covering a couple thousand years—quite a literary achievement. And he does so in very thoughtful ways. I read this book because I am a writer of mystery fiction; murder, death, ghosts, humanity are all part of my stories and exploration. If you study murder or are curious about the psychology of violence (or like to read about the dark side of life) this is one to add to your list. At over 600 pages and two inches thick, this is like an encyclopedia, but Wilson makes it more personal and sometimes philosophical. He explores why man is a killer. Wilson begins with Ivan the Terrible, Nero, Vlad the Impaler and the spectacular sadist Tamerlane. Lots of details that were a bit disturbing for me, especially Countess Elizabeth Bathory who enjoyed soaking in bathtubs filled with the human blood of young murdered girls. Moving on to Murder Elizabethan Style with a poisoned crucifix, disembowelments, castrations, beheadings, Jack the Ripper, British murders, sex crimes and serial killers. A lot to handle. Best way to read this is in small bites. I like Wilson’s narrative style and will likely read some of his fiction titles. At the end, Wilson says “in spite of three thousand years of cruelty and slaughter, there is still hope for the human race.” Read this book and you’ll know why.

 

 

 

Read all my book reviews on Amazon.com on my Paula Cappa Reviews page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1O7TTTF8K1E1L

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literature, murder mystery, mysteries, short story blogs

Witch Hunt, Shirley Jackson Style

The Witch  by Shirley Jackson

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   August 8, 2017

Everyday evil. Shirley Jackson is a master at the subtleties of normal life streaming with little horrors. Most of us know Jackson’s most famous The Lottery (which she reportedly wrote in one morning) and The Haunting of Hill House.  In this 14-minute read of The Witch, the story opens with a little boy and his mom on a train. There is a little sister too. All cozy, right? Enter the witch, and this one is far from the old crone  you’d expect.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story here at jlax.wikispaces.com.

 

Listen to the  11-minute audio here at YouTube.com

 

 

 

“Shirley Jackson is the master of the haunted tale . . .   Everything this author wrote . . . has in it the dignity and plausibility of myth . . .  Shirley Jackson knew better than any writer since Hawthorne the value of haunted things.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Leaves no doubt as to Miss Jackson’s craftsmanship and power . . . utterly convincing detail that breaks down the reader’s disbelief.”
Saturday Review

 

I also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a novella, twisty and suspenseful tale. Book review on Amazon.com.

 

Do you love to read book reviews? I have about 100 book reviews on Amazon.com at Paula Cappa Reviews. Please stop by and take a quick read and click into the book title to read full review. I’d love it if you answer YES ‘if this review was helpful to you’:  PAULA CAPPA REVIEWS ON AMAZON.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, mysteries, occult, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, witches, Women In Horror

A Horrible Grey Loneliness: The Little Ghost

The Little Ghost by Hugh Walpole (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 25, 2017

 

 

Death is an amazing adventure, yes? If you’ve ever lost a loved one, dear friend or relative, you know that “horrible grey loneliness” that can haunt you in the most subtle of ways. Our narrator has a ghost story to tell you. He is a journalist, happily married with two children and living in Wimbledon. When his greatest friend Charlie Bond, a  man with a charming personality, dies suddenly, the reality hits hard. Missing Charlie in his life becomes a pervasive ache for our narrator, and he escapes for a short holiday to the seaside. Sometimes when you fight a memory, the strangest things can happen. Like when you think you are alone in a room—but are not alone at all.

 

Read The Little Ghost at Gutenberg.net . Scroll down to click the title.

 

This short story was published in the collection  All Souls’ Night.  Sir Hugh Walpole was a best-selling British novelist. He published  36 novels and 6 volumes of short stories.  Virginia Woolf praised his writing: “It is no disparagement to a writer to say that his gift is for the small things rather than for the larger. If you are faithful with the details the large effects will grow inevitably out of those very details.”

Joseph Conrad said of him, “We see Mr. Walpole grappling with the truth of things spiritual and material with his characteristic earnestness, and we can discern the characteristics of this acute and sympathetic explorer of human nature.”

You might also like The Silver Mask or the vampire narrative Tarnhelm, included in All Souls’ Night. 

 

 

Hugh Walpole Portrait, by Stephen Bone, oil on canvas.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’ Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Hauntings, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror

Philomel Cottage, an Agatha Christie Obscure Murder Mystery

Philomel Cottage  by Agatha Christie (1934 Published in Listerdale Mystery)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 20, 2017

 

This short story by Agatha Christie, the murder mystery master, is one that hasn’t seen much popular light. Raymond Chandler was said to criticize Christie’s literary skills but that didn’t tarnish her fame or book sales.  She remains the queen of crime.  Philomel Cottage is probably one you’ve not read.

The name of this cottage carries a very specific subtext. The title Philomel—also known as Philomela—refers to a Greek goddess who was turned into a bird. In Christie’s story, Philomel represents the nightingale, symbolic of the feminine rejecting the dark silence and her finding voice in that darkness to sing.

This is a romantic twisty tale, set in a cheerful English village of gardens and gossip. The drama is about a newly married couple, Alix and her demanding husband Gerald—how lovely their new home is and how happy the setting. Well, maybe not for long. Murder and the dark psychological powers of dreaming prevail.

The ending is unpredictable and not at all in the neatly tied-up style we are used to in Christie crime mysteries. It’s unusual for Christie to flavor her stories with anything supernatural, but one might interpret this story to be haunting in a Hitchcockian way.  Christie’s compelling narrative suspense, as always, does not disappoint.

Read the short story  here at Celine.Klinghammer.free.fr.

 

This story was adapted for film in 1937 with Ann Harding and Basil Rathbone Love With A Stranger. If you are an old film buff like me, this one is thoroughly enjoyable. Vintage black and white and so fashionable. Women wearing curvy slinky dresses, budding rounded busts with sexy shoulders and pearls. Men with mustaches and tailored in tweed suits with wide lapels and cuffed wide trousers. Absolutely nostalgic!

Watch it here on YouTube.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Audio: Old Time Radio Suspense of  Philomel Cottage with Orson Wells. This is a real treat!

 

If you are an Agatha Christie fan, you’ll love the Agatha Christie Blog.  

Click here for “How to Make A Miss Marple’s Afternoon Tea.”

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Christie’s first novel , The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written in 1916, published in 1920. Murder on the Orient Express (1934); Death on the Nile (1937) and Appointment with Death (1938).   And many more: 78 mystery novels, 19 plays, and over 100 short stories. Her final novel, Sleeping Murder: Miss Marples Last Case, was published posthumously in October 1976. She is considered the best-selling novelist of all time  (2 billion copies sold and by some estimates nearly 4 billion, her works ranking 3rd behind Shakespeare and the Bible). What a gal!

 

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Check out The Guardian‘s “No One Should Condescend to Agatha Christie—She’s a Genius.” 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 2 00 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month.

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, crime thrillers, fiction, ghost story blogs, Greylock, horror blogs, murder mystery, Night Sea Journey, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror, The Dazzling Darkness