Category Archives: dark fantasy

Smoke Is Fatal to Evil Spirits

March 13, 2017

Ancient wisdom tells us that smoke is fatal to evil spirits. Have you ever burned sage to drive away negative energies? Ever burned the blooms of a Smoke Tree?  The flame flies in wild circles. The scent, sweet and spicy. Christians burn incense to purify churches and altars; they scatter the smoke in all directions, hence the expression ‘holy smoke.’ Capnomancy is form of divination, a reading of the shapes of smoke as a sign of what will happen soon. I love candlelight and bonfires, watching the smoke curl into haunting shapes, light-winged, like an Icarian bird or …

 

Or like a firehawk …

 

Let’s get dreamy for a moment. Henry David Thoreau said “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

Come with me. Move into sleep, as through a veil. Let the dream do its dreaming.

Enter into a night journey where airy Smoke Trees grow.

Sit down beneath the fluffy grayish puff-blooms. Rest on their vanishing shadows.

Are you breathing a bit of smoke yet? Inhale the alluring scent and let it take you into the beyond.

In the distance is a cemetery garden. Do you see it?

Curling grass, ferns and flowers, flights of hawks are soaring.

 

 

The weight of the air is suddenly cool and white.  A strange woman is walking the paths. Will you follow her through the Smoke Trees?

 

 

Kip Livingston carried a jar of sea lavender through the cemetery paths high above the sea. Raymond Kera followed but kept several paces behind. Some of the headstones were scoured white from salt winds. Smoke trees interrupted the skyline with their frothy grey plumes and deep purple leaves—must have been twenty of them among the graves. Raymond remembered smoke trees from childhood when he was sent to stay with his aunt in upstate New York for a month. He had been permitted to pluck one bloom and spent the morning blowing away the seed heads one at a time. As they floated off, he saw them as little angel ghosts with glowing heads. He had chased the smokey ghosts all the way to the street, giving his aunt the scare of her life.

Just at that moment, he desired to yank down a plume and do the same. Ridiculous, but tempting.

He watched Kip approach a headstone and place the lavender on the grass right under the engraved name  of her grandfather Achab David Ze’leim. She stood there all soft and flowing in her summer dress with the dull sun at her back. Her lips moved slowly; she fingered her necklace, cast her eyes down to the earth, tucked her head as if listening. Then suddenly her hand swung down like a broken paw.

Giving her plenty of privacy, Raymond sat on a nearby bench. He let the puffs of the smoke trees soothe him. He might have closed his eyes, if only to escape all of what happened that morning. That claw. Did she dismember the demon? Or was it another illusion? Or another dream of her evil firehawk?  Are her dreams so powerful that when she opens her eyes, when she becomes awake, the images are realized?

Kip waved him over. “I was thinking of Aunt Agatha, just now.”

“Is she buried here too?”

“Her ashes are buried in the garden at Abasteron House. Aunt Agatha was the sweetest woman. She wanted to tell me the secret. But she said it would frighten me. So, she took it with her to her grave.”

“A family secret?”

“I don’t know. Admitting you even have a secret half reveals it, don’t you think?”

Kip slipped her hand into the crux of Ray’s arm and hung on to rest her face on his shoulder. “Grandfather died bravely, you know. He walked the beach every day at noon, even up to the last week he died. He especially loved the winter sun.”

Raymond gave a nod to be polite. Achab David Ze’leim’s headstone was a massive hewn square rock with a lion claw as a mounting at each corner. Simple lettering. Name, dates, and the old man’s last words: Every word emanating from God creates an angel.

“You think that’s true, Kip?”

“What?”

He pointed to the epitaph.

“Why not? It’s from the Talmud. You believe in angels, don’t you, Ray?”

“I do.”

“And demons?”

“You mean your demon?”

“It’s not my demon, Ray.”

“Well, it’s your dream.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Then whose dream is it?”

She looked away. “The dream is dreaming itself.”

“Why would you think that?” Thunder rolled over the smoke trees. The puffs on the trees didn’t look so angelic just then—more like dried up cobwebs about to crack.

Kip answered after a moment. “Grandfather.”

 

 

Come into the Night Sea Journey with Kip and Raymond. Walk among the cemetery smoke trees. Angels. Demons. Be awake in the dream as it dreams itself into reality.

An Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner, 2015.

Amazon.com

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

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U.S. REVIEW OF BOOKS  “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with, if not better than, a Dan Brown novel.”

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ “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!”

Published by Crispin Books

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Filed under Book Reviews, dark fantasy, demons, Dreams, fiction, haunted mind, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, Night Sea Journey, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

Never Poison a Witch

Catskin  by Kelly Link   (2012)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 31, 2017

 

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When we think of witches, we don’t think of soft round women, scented and powdered, wearing pink tufted slippers, and living in cute houses. They are more like women with twisted hearts that beat fierce blood into powerful spells over their victims. Kelly Link writes in odd directions and this story, Catskin,  is a world where you can totally lose yourself. Are you up for a horrific fairy tale? Here’s a warning: Never poison a witch.

The witch, up in her bedroom, was dying.

Now, since witches cannot have children in the usual way—their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses, and yet even witches must have heirs, even witches wish to be mothers—the witch had acquired her children by other means: She had stolen or bought them.

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Do you like creepy cats? When I think of old cats, I conjure up lazy ones on a quilted bedspread, eyes slit closed and their soft minds dreaming in the shadows—a little bit like Poe said in The Raven: “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” Truly, I do.

 

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Cats trotted and slunk and leapt and crouched. They were busy. Their movements were catlike, or perhaps clockwork. Their tails twitched like hairy pendulums. They paid no attention to the witch’s children.

 

Witches and cats … a winning combination for a short story.

 

 

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Ancient Proverb: You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.”

 

Read Catskin at LightspeedMagazine.com  

 

kelly-linkKelly Link’s  debut collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards. Her second collection, Magic for Beginners, was chosen as one of the best books of the decade by Salon and The Onion.  Kelly has taught at Smith College, Columbia University, UMass Amherst, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Clarion, Clarion West, and Clarion South in Brisbane, Australia, and the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University.

 

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Read more of Kelly Link’s work like Catskin in her Magic for Beginners.

 

 

Check out BuzzFeed’s Cat Stories.

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of nearly 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, ghost stories, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

  

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

The Kill Zone

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

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

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

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Filed under dark fantasy, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, witches, Women In Horror

Gaiman’s Black Cave Truth in a Mountain

 The Truth is a Black Cave in a Mountain  by Neil Gaiman (2014)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 17, 2017

 

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Are you a dark fantasy or speculative fiction fan? Dark fantasy is not horror, not ghostly, but explores dark emotions, the psychological, and often paranormal worlds and creatures.  Fantasy is the language of dreams. It has become a popular frontier in storytelling these days. Game of Thrones comes to mind, right? And of course, The Odyssey full of mythical creatures, sirens, and witches.  Today, prepare yourself to shift into another realm in this short story The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains.

Mountains hold silence, silver skies and green earth. What a vast splendor. To stand on a mountain is to stand apart from all men and be inside the heart of nature. I felt that way when I climbed Mt. Greylock to research my novel.  As if I could climb skyward on the ladder of clouds, I wanted to feel its power.  John Muir says “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” But there can be darkness too, spiky-edged shadows and brooding whispers. And unawakened eyes.

 

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Two men embark on a journey in what appears to be the Scottish terrain. There are secrets here. And magic. And a skull. Come into the dark fantasy world of Neil Gaiman.

The truth is a cave in the black mountains.  And maybe gold is hidden here too. There is one way there, and that way is treacherous, and if you choose the wrong path you will die alone on the mountainside.

The two walked on and into the Misty Isle. The mountains were black and grey against the white of the sky. Eagles circled.

“I see death in your past and death in your future.”

“Death waits in all our futures,” I said.

Something was there. Something was waiting.

 

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The part fable and part fairy tale brings you shadows,  regret, vengeance, and, ultimately love.

 

Read the FREE short story here at FiftyTwoStories.com

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Neil Gaiman  is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Neverwhere (1995), Stardust (1999), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American Gods (2001), Anansi Boys (2005), and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett, 1990), as well as the short story collections Smoke and Mirrors (1998) and Fragile Things (2006).  His The Graveyard Book  won the UK’s Booktrust Prize for Teenage Fiction, the Newbery Medal, and the Hugo Best Novel Prize.

His first collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, was nominated for the UK’s MacMillan Silver Pen Awards as the best short story collection of the year.

 

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.”  Neil Gaiman.

 

 

 

MORE TALES OF TERROR

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of nearly 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

The Kill Zone

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

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

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

 

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, ghost story blogs, Greylock, horror blogs, Mt. Greylock, psychological horror, short stories, short story blogs, skulls, supernatural, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror

Immortals on the Yendian Plane

The Island of Immortals by Ursula Le Guin

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  May 24, 2016

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‘Somebody asked me if I’d heard that there were immortal people on the Yendian Plane, and somebody else told me that there were, so when I got there, I asked about them. The travel agent rather reluctantly showed me a place called the Island of the Immortals on her map. “You don’t want to go there,” she said.’

Hop on the ship sailing to the island of immortals. This story is different from my usual posts. We’re in sci-fi territory and in the  hands of award-winning writer Ursula Le Guin. Our narrator is dying to see what kind of people are immortals and she sails out to explore the island. There is danger. There are flies.

 

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Ursula Le Guin is an American writer, best known for her stories in science fiction and high fantasy. She is a winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards.

A famous quote: “We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

 

 

Read the short story The Immortals at LightspeedMagazine.com

 

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Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin

 Click here to Read My Book Review and Commentary,  May 17, 2016.

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

This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week!

Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine    

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror

The Girl With The Hungry Eyes

The Girl With the Hungry Eyes  by Fritz Leiber  (1949)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  April 12, 2016

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Remember Rod Serling’s Night Gallery? He did a film adaptation of Fritz Leiber’s The Girl With the Hungry Eyes and although dated and little hokey, it’s still a fun 25-minutes. With James Farentino, Joanna Pettet, John Astin.

Leiber is well known for his stories that mesmerize. In this story, the author asks … what is the hidden hunger of millions of men? Lust? Justice? Revenge? Dave is a photographer looking for just the right model for an advertisement. Who walks into his studio?  “The girl.” He photographs her. And then things get spooky. Is she real? Is she supernatural? Is there a murder? And what is her hidden hunger?

Come on, you got to read this one.

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Read the short story in PDF at BerkleySchools.org/NorthStarMedia. Click here to download the PDF:

Watch the short film by Serling’s Night Gallery at The Quill & the Keyboard.blogspot.

Also on Hulu.com: http://www.hulu.com/watch/58767

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week! 

Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Snow Beings and Witchery

The Glamour of Snow  by Algernon Blackwood

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 1, 2016

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Is it still winter? Are glittery snowflakes falling outside your window? Softy passing, softly gathering. Let’s say you believe in snow beings and witchery. Let’s say you fall for the intoxicating world of silent snow and moonlight. What would you find?

Come meet Hibbert, a lonely writer who takes a few weeks in the Valais Alps, near Lake Geneva, to write his book.

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In the mind of Hibbert, he recognizes three worlds: the tourists’ existence full of social life; the peasants’ village life of simple joys, and the mysterious spells of Nature. One night he goes skating alone on a beautiful pond, iced white like enamel. The wind is bitter clean. The sky is heavenly …

‘And then, midway in the delight of rushing movement, he saw a figure gliding behind the wire netting, watching him …  But her face he never properly saw.’

The figure vanishes of course. She remains a haunting in his mind. Until Hibbert returns to the snow-crusted forests.

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‘And then he saw her. She stood there waiting in a little clear space of shining snow, dressed all in white, part of the moonlight and the glistening background, her slender figure just discernible.

 “I waited, for I knew you would come,” the silvery little voice of windy beauty floated down to him. “You _had_ to come.”

 “I’m ready,” he answered, “I knew it too.” ‘

Do you believe in snow beings and witchery? Believe with Hibbert and enter into a deep reality of the weight of snow, ice, all that magical white powering Nature.

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You can read this story online at ReadBookOnline.net.

Listen to the audio version on YouTube.com.

 

Algernon Blackwood is one of the most prolific ghost writers.  Born in Kent, England, during a winter’s March of 1869, he died in December 1951. I can’t help notice how winter acted as bookends during his life span, especially since so many of his stories are about cold rural and wild locations. This is what he says about the supernatural:

blackwoodimgres“My fundamental interest, I suppose, is signs and proofs of other powers that lie hidden in us all; the extension, in other words, of human faculty. So many of my stories, therefore, deal with extension of consciousness; speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness. … Also, all that happens in our universe is natural; under Law; but an extension of our so limited normal consciousness can reveal new, extra-ordinary powers etc., and the word “supernatural” seems the best word for treating these in fiction. I believe it possible for our consciousness to change and grow, and that with this change we may become aware of a new universe.”  (Peter Penzoldt’s The Supernatural in Fiction (1952)

 

Visit Algernon Blackwood’s web site at AlgernonBlackwood.org. 

 

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

This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every week! Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

Thriller of the Day at Kindle Nation Daily: Night Sea Journey

Thriller of the Day

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

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NIGHT SEA JOURNEY, A TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL

Do dreams have the power to live beyond nightscapes? Night Sea Journey ia a fast-paced read with the mystery of angels and demons, psychological and spiritual twists, romance, and murder.

An Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner, 2015  

Night Sea Journey on KND:   http://kindlenationdaily.com/2015/12/157588/

Paula Cappa on BookGorilla.com: http://www.bookgorilla.com/author/B009P2HZ7A/paula-cappa

 

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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.”

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ ” Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride, impossible to put down, a fast-paced thriller.” 

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

 

Trade paperback published by Crispin Books, Milwaukee, WI.

Amazon.com

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

Smashwords

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