Category Archives: dark fantasy

Deathless and Patient

The House of the Past   by Algernon Blackwood (1904)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 10, 2015

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If your dreams could speak to you, what would they say? Let’s open that rusty door to dream time. Here is the key. Go deep. Turn and hear the click. Or is it a whumpp? Throw the door open, if you dare, into the bleak images moving about. Let your dream speak. What would she say? She might say … “This is the House of the Past. Come with me and we will go through some of its rooms and passages; but quickly, for I have not the key for long, and the night is very nearly over. Yet, perchance, you shall remember!”

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Remember? Do you remember the ghosts of your past? Will you hear them whispering or weeping? Might you see shadows wearing old dust like shrouds?

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In Blackwood’s House of the Past, the themes are streaming with imagry. Listen to the language and let yourself flow with the pace. This story can truly transport you to another world of the supernatural. Algernon is one of my favorite authors because I love how eloquently he builds a story into a fantasy and blends the mystical with the occult. He’s my number one go-to author when I want a really mesmerizing ghost story. Lovecraft named him a “modern master.”

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Read the short story here at LoverOfDarkness.net

Listen to the audio story (this is a treat, don’t miss it) by Librivox on YouTube.com.

[All images are public domain from WikiCommons.]

 

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Night Sea Journey, 99 cents, November

Last weekend (November 6, 7, 8, 2015) for this sale at 99 cents for Night Sea Journey. This supernatural mystery recently hit the Amazon best seller list for 4 days in occult and supernatural genres.  After winning an Eric Hoffer Book Award this year, Night Sea Journey has connected to readers who love to explore fiction about the mysteries of the subconscious mind, art, and spirituality … and a firehawk.

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U.S. Review of Books “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with—if not better than—a Dan Brown novel. Truly an outstanding read, Night Sea Journey is one book that is hard to put down!”

ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD, 2015. “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery…angels and demons…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.”

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ posts “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, impossible to put down, a fast-paced thriller.”

READERS’ FAVORITE REVIEWS ★★★★★ “Marvelous, atmospheric and, oh, so very, very good. Profound, vibrant, and intensely moving. Highly recommended. Brava!”

★★★★★ Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer Gives 5 STARS. “A talent that will draw even those who are not keen on supernatural stories into her fold.”

 

Come meet Kip Livingston’s firehawk  …

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Trade Paperback Published by Crispin Books

Buy the eb00k     $2.99

Buy the trade paperback  $16.95

Amazon.com

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

Smashwords

Apple iTunes

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Soul Blood

The Dream of Red Hands   by Bram Stoker  (1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 3, 2016

 

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This story opens in the grey of dawn. Jacob Settle lives alone on the far edge of the isolated moorland in a small cottage. Our narrator is Jacob’s friend. While we all think of dreaming as normal events in our night life, Jacob is tormented by nightmares and there’s nothing normal about them. Some of us know that when you sleep alone, nightmares don’t just vanish upon waking. Without the comfort of a spouse or family member to anchor reality and soothe the moment, one can go a little mad.

Stoker’s story seems to beg the question, what do nightmares do to the soul? If anyone is in need of fiction about the soul and nightmares, this is the story that will haunt you. Is there such a thing as an evil dream?

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You can read The Dream of Red Hands at WikiSource.org.

I am especially fascinated by nightmares as most of you know from my supernatural mystery Night Sea Journey. If you are also fascinated with the pathology of nightmares, you might be interested in reading Ernest Jones’ On the Nightmare (1931) published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. It includes chapters on vampires, werewolves, witches, and the devil. Are nightmares truly caused by spikes in blood pressure or gastric disturbances? Or is there a soul element to it? Is there a spiritual element to it? You can read the book, free online, ON THE NIGHTMARE here.

 

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Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University.

Front row: Sigmund Freud,G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung;

Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

 

Irish-born Bram Stoker published his first story The Snake’s Pass in 1890. In 1897, readers were shocked and disgusted by Dracula. Stoker’s first horror story was The Crystal Cup in 1872.

 

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Romantic Horror: Poe’s Lady Ligeia

Ligeia  by Edgar Allan Poe  (1839)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  October 27, 2015

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Who doesn’t love a romance with twists of horror? Especially during the Halloween reading season. The opening epigraph of this short story is a reference to the will of death vs. the will to live. In this tale, one of Poe’s less popular ones, our narrator lives in a decaying city near the Rhine. He lives there with the love of his life, Ligeia. She is of the highest beauty and with a gentle soul … “She came and departed as a shadow …sweet voiced …. with the radiance of an opium dream, airy and spirit-lifting.”

 

Ligeia grows ill and death becomes her. Feeling utterly abandoned, our narrator remarries Lady Rowena and they live in an old abbey … until Rowena grows ill.

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“The greater part of the fearful night had worn away, and she who had been dead, once again stirred …”

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Poe, a master of prose, writes this story with its own beauty and suspense. At the literal level, there’s a blending of the supernatural with the psychological. For me, I fell I love with the phantasmagoric elements of the story because it arouses an intense horror. Who can resist the fetters of death? You decide, is this a love story or a horror story?Carling_the_raven_04wikicommons

Read Ligeia at Online-Literature.com

http://www.online-literature.com/poe/2126/

Listen to the audio, narrated by Vincent Price on YouTube.com

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

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And no Halloween is complete without Poe’s The Raven. Listen to James Earl Jones narrate it here with music and a portfolio of images:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NykmXl24qcc

 

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Images from Wiki Commons and The Illustrated Poe.

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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 …

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

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A Fit Laughing Stock for Devils (Chinese Supernatural Tales)

Strange Stories   by Pu Songling (1740)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 2, 2015

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When thinking of the supernatural, ghost, or horror stories, Chinese literature  is not the first thought that comes to mind.  Their fictional history is a long one with supernatural tales being recorded as early as The T’ang Dynasty, then Chuanqi tales became popular,  then Sung, Confucian, and Ming Dynasties brought supernatural mysteries into printed story collections.

During the Quig Dynasty, Pu Songling (1640-1750) wrote with a narrative strength and completed nearly 500 tales published in 1740 by his grandson. The Liaozhai Zhiyi or Strange Stories is considered to be the bible of Chinese supernatural folktales.  Most of Songling’s  stories hinge on that mysterious place between life and death, waking and dreaming, and have themes of foxes, tigers, and snakes. I’ve chosen four of his tales that are flash fictions and  are ‘charming with a chill’ in their supernatural moralities.

 

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Songling says of his writings: “I am but the dust in the sunbeam, a fit laughing stock for devils. For my talents are not those of Kan Pao, elegant explorer of the records of the Gods; I am rather animated by the spirit of Su Tung-p’o, who loved to hear men speak of the supernatural. I get people to commit what they tell me in writing and subsequently I dress it up in the form of a story; and thus in the lapse of time my friends from all quarters have supplied me with quantities of material, which, from my habit of collecting, has grown into a vast pile.”

 

 

 

Read these flash fictions at Gutenberg.org. (Click the titles below or scroll the Table of Contents  at Gutenberg.org and click on other titles)

 

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Metempsychosis   Mr. Lin dies at age 62. Will he meet a devil or a god in the Kingdom?

 

 

 

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Killing a Serpent  A young  man, Chang, is fond of hunting, but not hunting snakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Great Rat  A rat that eats cats? Until the rat meets up with …

 

 

 

 

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The Tiger Guest  In Chinese culture, tigers kill evil men and protect good ones.  In this story of poets  and scholars, we have a twisty little tale.

 

 

 

 

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Available on Amazon.com

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The Mysterious Window

The Deserted House  by  E.T.A. Hoffmann (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 31, 2015

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The subject of this story is the mysterious. Are facts more mysterious than the imagination? Or is the power of the imagination the reality?

Our narrator Theodore is a clairvoyant. Or so his friends believe. Theodore tells of an adventure with the mysterious. Imagine you are walking in old Germany on an avenue lined with aristocratic homes and fashionable shops. Tucked among the rich and gay architectures is a deserted old house. Theodore becomes entranced by this closed up and unoccupied home. He wonders what may be hidden within it. One day, in the upper window he sees the hand of a young woman. Later he hears her mad laughs and scratchy old voice.

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Fatal magic. A haunted mirror. A gypsy woman in a red shawl. This is a wonderfully creepy story with counts and countesses, betrayals, and of course, the mysterious.

 

 

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I discovered author E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) when I was researching occult music for my current WIP novel Greylock. Hoffmann is most popularly known as a composer, but he’s written novels and over fifty short stories in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. His tales are full of magic, occult powers of the subconscious, and psychology. He writes in a rich narrative style that carries vintage storytelling atmospherics. Many know his name as the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was the basis for Tchaikovsky’s ballet.

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Read the short story online at  UNZ.org  at German Mysteries, From The Lock and Key Library by Julian Hawthorne.

 

Listen to the audio at Librivox,  Parts 1 and 2 on Youtube.

 

Another Hoffman favorite short is The Sandman, featured here at Tales of Terror on  July 9, 2013.

 

 

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HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

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For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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