Category Archives: classic horror stories

Horror Story

Horror Story by Carmen Maria Machado  (2018)

Tuesday’s Tale of Horror  July 17, 2018

 

Carmen Maria Machado is an author of stories published in New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, Guernica, Electric Literature, AGNI,  Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction. She has just published her first collection of short stories Her Body and Other Parties: Stories (finalist for the 2017 National Book Award and finalist for the Kirkus Prize). If you are ready to discover a modern writer of ghost stories and horror, vivid and surreal, this is your gal. She likes to write about the spaces between the fantastic and reality. This writer goes deep.

In this week’s story, Machado writes about a haunted house. Not at all what you might expect.

‘It started so small: a mysteriously clogged drain; a crack in the bedroom window. We’d just moved into the place, but the drain had been working and the glass had been intact, and then one morning they weren’t. My wife tapped her fingernail lightly on the crack in the pane and it sounded like something was knocking, asking to be let in.’

 

At 1300 words, this is a quick 15-minute read. This story was originally published in Granta.

Read the short story at Nightmare Magazine:

http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/horror-story/

 

 

“When you enter into horror, you’re entering into your own mind, your own anxiety,

your own fear, your own darkest spaces.”

Carmen Maria Machado.

 

Visit Carmen Maria Machado at her website: https://carmenmariamachado.com/fiction/

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

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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Passionate Throbs in The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Ghosts   June 12, 2018

The quintessential ghost story of all time is … Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. As far as literature goes, academic or otherwise, this blog would be faulty if it didn’t feature James’ most famous ghost story. The story is a dark and rich suspense, full of passionate throbs both horrific and psychological. James has had his criticism about his overburdened sentences and his fussy and prudish style. Too Freudian was another swipe at him because his ghosts had their foundation in ourselves. But this story, after more than a century,  hasn’t lost its power.

The Turn of the Screw first appeared in serial format in Collier’s Weekly magazine (1898). James is famous for writing about the nature of evil in a quiet way. This short story fulfills the three –S’s in ghostly fiction: suspenseful, sinister, and strange. Gothic, of course, since the story takes place at the House of Bly. The story is both supernatural and psychological. James adapted this story from a tale told him by the archbishop of Canterbury. James was said to claim that his intention was to entertain. You will certainly find this story entertaining, disturbing, but also an exploration of good and evil.

The story opens with a prologue of backstory and then Chapter One is told by the governess (unnamed) who goes to Bly House in the English countryside to care for two children: Miles and Flora. Ghosts of unspeakable evil appear to the governess: Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. But are these apparitions only seen by the governess?

Do Miles and Flora observe as well? And what about the knowledgeable and reliable housekeeper Mrs. Grose? Truths, tricks, and the state of mind of our governess all play roles and so does supernatural powers.

A clever story, this is, and beautifully written. Writers of ghost stories can learn a lot by reading it carefully. The puzzle of the storytelling is cut expertly! The structure perfection. The tone mystifying. Still, literary critics debate if true evil ghosts haunt Bly House or is it the haunting from the madness of the governess.

For me, to take away the ghosts’ reality weakens the story and dilutes the fear. James insists we see the ghosts  just as the governess sees them, thereby maintaining the horror. And yet he sprinkles doubt at every turn, which enhances the suspense.

Read The Turn of the Screw at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/209/209-h/209-h.htm

Listen to the audio at Librivox.org.

https://librivox.org/the-turn-of-the-screw-by-henry-james/

 

I’d love to read your comments and reactions to this story. What kind of psychological realism or supernatural realism did you find in the story? 

Watch the film with Deborah Kerr, directed by Jack Clayton (vintage black and white)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=gwmp2I0A0Eg

 

 

There are other adaptations for film:
—1991 film with Lynn Redgrave, directed by Dan Curtis
—1999 film with Colin Firth, directed by Ben Bolt
—2009 film with Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery of Downtown Abbey, directed by Tim Fywell (available Amazon Prime Streaming)

 

Henry James was an American author, born in New York in 1853. He is considered to be one of the greatest novelists in our literature. The Portrait of a Lady and Daisy Miller are his most widely read and best known works.  He accomplished 22 novels, more than a hundred short stories, autobiographical works, several plays and critical essays. The Wings of Dove (1902) is a beautifully written love story and a film.  In Edith Wharton’s autobiography, she recalls how she and James sat by a ditch at Bodiam Castle, in East Sussex. ‘For a long time no one spoke,’ writes Wharton, ‘then James turned to me and said solemnly: ‘Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.’

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

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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Lunaphobia or Dead Lotus-Faces?

What the Moon Brings by H.P. Lovecraft  (1923)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  April 10, 2018

 

Do you enjoy stories about dreaming, hints of dreaming, or imagination vs. reality? Sometimes, stories that blur these lines can be entertaining but also highly stimulating.  Misleading sensations, false beliefs, uncertain perceptions are all part of dreaming. When I wrote Night Sea Journey, I researched the dreaming mind and the imagination because the character Kip Livingston struggled with supernatural night terrors. Dreams and the imagination both require mental imagery from the conscious and subconscious mind. The processes are certainly different. Carl Jung has lots to say on this subject; I find his ‘active imagination’ practice of searching the unconscious realm for truth to be astonishing. Jung’s belief was that dreaming is sourced not from the physical brain or Feud’s wish-fulfillment theory but from and within the powers of the psychic world—the larger Self speaking the truth to the ego. Fascinating!

Here is a story, What the Moon Brings, told by a mysterious narrator with a deep fear of the unknown. At night, while walking in a garden that has no boundaries, he sees dead faces among the trees and flowers, “dead lotus-faces.” The moon has power here and we are drawn into a bizarre eclipse of horror.

“I hate the moon—I am afraid of it—for when it shines on certain scenes familiar and loved, it sometimes makes them unfamiliar and hideous.”

 

” … As I ran along the shore, crushing sleeping flowers with heedless feet and maddened ever by the fear of unknown things and the lure of the dead faces …”

Our narrator follows a stream to an unknown sea  with “unvocal waves” and there he finds his destiny.  In full Lovecraft style, this story is full of imaginative descriptions and vivid scenes. This is a enhanced dreamscape that possesses our narrator who may or may not have lunaphobia. A quick intriguing 8-minute read that is surreal and yet real.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story (8-minute read) here  at HPLovecraft.com:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/wmb.aspx

Listen to the audio on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6nNuIRqxF4

 

 

 

 

 

“In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life,

and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.”   H. P. Lovecraft

 

H.P. Lovecraft is one of America’s finest horror novelists. The statuette for the World Fantasy Award is a bust of Lovecraft, in honor of his writing. The award is informally referred to as a Howard. Lovecraft suffered from parasomnia or  ‘night terrors’ from the time he was six years old. He dreamed of what he called “nightgaunts.” Some readers speculate that these nightgaunts appeared in his books as black and faceless, thin humanoids.

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above (lots more Lovecraft stories) for 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 this blog 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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Crime Meets Love

Married to a Murderer  by Alan Russell (1997)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery    March 13, 2018

Jean-Patrick Manchette wrote that “The crime novel is the great moral literature of our time.”

Queen of detective fiction Agatha Christie said that “time is the best killer.”

This week we are reading murder mysteries in Alan Russell’s Married to a Murderer (this short story named as one of the 25 finest crime and mystery stories of 1997). We have a wealthy young woman, Danielle Deveron, visiting a prison. She has an immediate attraction to a death row inmate Clay Potter.

The attraction wasn’t one-sided. Clay didn’t have the looks of the pretty boys Danielle usually associated with, but there was something about him that beguiled.

Potter is convicted of multiple murders and awaiting his execution. Why does the svelte and stylish Danielle want him? Why does the desperate Clay Potter want her? Ahh, we are alive with mysteries!

 

Publisher’s Weekly calls Allan Russell “One of the best writers in the mystery field today. The New York Times says, “He has a gift for dialogue,” while the Los Angeles Times acclaim him, “A crime fiction rara avis.” He writes whodunits, comedic capers, suspense, psychological thrillers, and has garnered a Critics’ Choice Award, The Lefty (best humorous mystery of the year), and two San Diego Book Awards.

 

 

 

Read this quick mystery at Mysterynet.com   http://www.mysterynet.com/love/romance/married/ 

Other Alan Russell crime fiction:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regular readers here know I’m a big Raymond Chandler fan for crime fiction (Philip Marlowe makes several appearances in my novel Greylock). Here’s a final memorable quote, from Chandler, that is in inspiration and one of my favorites.

 

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. Did you enjoy today’s post? Please LIKE or post a thought.

 

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

Leave a comment

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39 Skulls

The Messenger  by Robert W. Chambers  (1900)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  February 27, 2018

When the Black Priest rises from the dead,

St. Gildas folk shall shriek in bed;

When the Black Priest rises from his grave,

May the good God St. Gildas save!

Thirty-eight skulls and then there was one more. A scroll written in blood. A curse. Death’s Messenger.  We are in St. Gildas. The year is 1896. Village talk is about the Black Priest and a moth that, if it enters your house, brings evil. Moths are said to be spirit guides. Skulls are said to represent mortality, but they also remind us of the embodiment of consciousness.

The Messenger is a story woven with thick suspense and told vintage style by one of the greatest horror and fantasy novelists, Robert Chambers (1865-1933). Chambers is famous for his King in Yellow (1895), and remembered these days for his Gothic tales. Chambers will keep you guessing in this story told by Dick, who does not believe in the supernatural.

Readers of this blog know I am fascinated by all kinds of skulls, especially crystal skulls. When writing my supernatural mystery The Dazzling Darkness, which features a mysterious crystal skull, I learned about the Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull, also known as the Skull of Doom. If you don’t know about the powers of quartz crystal skulls, stop in at the Mitchell-Hedges website for some fascinating information: http://www.crystalskulls.com/mitchell-hedges-crystal-skull.html

Mitchell-Hedges Crystal Skull

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Read The Messenger short story here: https://americanliterature.com/author/robert-w-chambers/short-story/the-messenger

Listen to the audio at YouTube.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3arLiAjpmQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, there’s Max the crystal skull if you really are a crystal skull lover! Visit http://cse.crystalskullexplorers.com/max-the-crystal-skull/

 

 

 

 

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

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Filed under classic horror stories, crystal skull, fiction, ghost stories, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, occult, paranormal, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, skulls, soft horror, supernatural fiction, tales of terror, The Dazzling Darkness

Our February Ghost, Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley, Conjuring Her Ghost on February 1st.

Tuesday’s Tale    January 30, 2018

 

Mary Shelley’s ghost is ever-present. And we are breathing life back into her ghost in 2018. As literary ghosts go, we hear stories of Hemingway haunting his Key West home with his typewriter tapping away; Ben Franklin’s statue sometimes walks along the Philadelphia streets; Poe is said to haunt his favorite bar in Baltimore and the staff leave out a glass of whiskey for him at closing time; Dylan Thomas has been seen drinking at the White Horse Tavern in New York.

But for our esteemed Mary Shelley, where is her ghost these days? Shall we conjure her back to us on the anniversary of her death, February 1st?

 

Mary Shelley died February 1, 1851. And all this year, 2018, we are marking the bicentennial of her greatest novel Frankenstein, published January 1818. There are global celebrations going on (Global Frankenstein Celebrations), blogs, events, podcasts, and radio shows, all commemorating this woman writer of horror and mother of science fiction.  We have a wealth of conscious thought active about her life, her triumphs, her stories, and her literary powers. And February is Women In Horror Month. 

 

 

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Did you know that Mary Shelley, and her husband, were highly intrigued on the use of electricity to animate human limbs? At the time of the writing of Frankenstein, an alchemist named Johann Konrad Dippel, was reported to have robbed graves and performed experiments on corpses at Frankenstein Castle (Burg Frankenstein). This castle sits above the Rhine Valley on Odenwald, a mountain in southern Germany, near the city of Darmstadt. More here about Mary Shelly and Frankenstein Castle at ExploringCastles.com.

 

 

 

More on Castle Frankenstein and the Shelleys in my earlier blog, Feb. 2016: “A Lump of Death.”  

 

Mary Shelley wrote lots of short stories, several which you can read featured on past dates on this blog by clicking the title:

 The Invisible Girl, October 15, 2013

The Mortal Immortal, February 26, 2013

Transformation, February 4, 2014

The Last Man  February 8, 2016

On Ghosts, October 15, 2013

And here’s a short one you probably haven’t read:  The Evil Eye, free read at Gutenberg.netAustralia.

Because I love ghost stories, I wrote a ghost story about Mary Shelley, Beyond Castle Frankenstein, published in the anthology Journals of Horror, Found Fiction, edited by Terry M. West, published by Pleasant Storm Entertainment. [Available at Amazon.com ( https://www.amazon.com/Journals-Horror-Terry-M-West/dp/1508805725 ) ]. Here’s a peek into my short story: A letter is found written by Mary Shelley. Mary recounts a night when she attempts to conjure up the ghost of her dead husband, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

 

Mary Shelley is buried in St. Peter’s Churchyard in Bournemouth, Dorset England. Read her biography here at The Poetry Foundation.org.  

 

“I busied myself to think of a story, — a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart. If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story would be unworthy of its name.” (Introduction to Frankenstein, 1831)

 

Watch the adaptation of Frankenstein, 2004, with William Hurt, PART 1.

 

 

And Part 2.

 

[Image by Esao Andrews oil on wood, 2010. Young Mary Shelley. Visit Andrews website here.]

 

“Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through,and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.” 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

 

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 and LIKES 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 

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, occult, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, science fiction, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, tales of terror, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month

Black Cat Zodiac

The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe  (1843)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  January 16, 2018

Did you know that Sigmund Freud said  “time spent with cats is never wasted”? I find that just gazing at my cat makes me happy. It is well known that cats were once worshipped as gods in ancient times and maybe that’s why they so often pose themselves like beauties of wisdom.

They are masterpieces that might walk on the very clouds with utmost grace and silence. Charles Dickens believed that there was no greater gift than the love of a cat.  Aldous Huxley told us that if you want to write, keep cats. Lots of mystery writers are cat owners: Stephen King, Neil Gaiman to name a few. And of course Edgar Allan Poe “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” His cat was Catterina.

January 19 is the anniversary of Poe’s birth date. Let’s honor him by reading one of his best works. This week’s short story is Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat. First published in the Saturday Evening Post, the story has themes of alcoholism and just a little bit of insanity but told from a perfectly sane perspective. Pluto is the black cat, thought to be bad luck or a witch in disguise. Well, maybe. I think cats are a blessing.

Our narrator is in prison and begins his story telling us that “tomorrow I die.” We meet his cat Pluto a “remarkably large and beautiful animal, entirely black, and sagacious to an astonishing degree.” Once you read this story, you will see just how shrewd Pluto can be. Karma at its macabre best!

 

Read The Black Cat here at PoeStories.com.

 

 

Listen to the audio by Tom O’Bedlam here on YouTube.com 

Watch The Black Cat, A Short Film (18 minutes)  Exciting scenes and storytelling by an actor who looks much like Poe himself. Rob Green (The Bunker, House, The Trick), a special director for the genre of horror and thriller, made this short movie to Poe’s story. Excellent!

 

 

Our Miss Kitty

This week we had to put down our beloved “Baby” cat who we love to address as “Miss Kitty.” Although she’s my daughter’s cat, Miss Kitty has been my constant companion for 17 years. Because I work as an editor out of my home office, Miss Kitty would sit at my feet while I worked at my desk, joined me for morning coffee in my kitchen, and remained my carpet buddy while I watched television. Oh that sweet gaze of her eyes! No matter how bad a day went, Miss Kitty made it better with her sweet purring and furry rubs of her face on my  hand.  I adore how cats communicate without saying a single word. I swear Baby is still here with her little paw-poohms on the wood floors and her muted half-meows at the cellar door. I miss her dreadfully. Maybe, just maybe because I believe in ghosts, Miss Kitty will give me the the pleasure of haunting us.

Do you believe in ghost cats? Watch this.

 “Until one has love an animal, a part of one’s soul has remained unawakened.”

Anatole France.

 

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. “LIKES” and 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

2 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, occult, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries