Category Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

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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Haunts of Halloween

Haunts of Halloween

October 31, 2016

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Let’s go poetry. There are stories in poems, images and insights, song and emotion … and other worlds. Let your mind play with the patterns and sink into the symbolism. Be illuminated this Halloween!

 

The Ghost House by Robert Frost (1906)

Gloomy, dark, mysterious, and beautifully vague.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WK92957YzI

Read it below or here online: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ghost-house

 

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I dwell in a lonely house I know

That vanished many a summer ago,

And left no trace but the cellar walls,

And a cellar in which the daylight falls

And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

 

O’er ruined fences the grape-vines shield

The woods come back to the mowing field;

The orchard tree has grown one copse

Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;

The footpath down to the well is healed.

 

I dwell with a strangely aching heart

In that vanished abode there far apart

On that disused and forgotten road

That has no dust-bath now for the toad.

Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

 

The whippoorwill is coming to shout

And hush and cluck and flutter about:

I hear him begin far enough away

Full many a time to say his say

Before he arrives to say it out.

 

It is under the small, dim, summer star.

I know not who these mute folk are

Who share the unlit place with me—

Those stones out under the low-limbed tree

Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

 

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad—

Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—

With none among them that ever sings,

And yet, in view of how many things,

As sweet companions as might be had.

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Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1858)

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All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

 

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

 

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

 

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

 

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates

From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

 

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.

 

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires;

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

 

These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,

Come from the influence of an unseen star

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

 

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,

Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,—

 

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

 

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“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                Shall be lifted- nevermore!”

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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   Parlor of Horror

 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

EZindiepublishing

 

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Poe’s “Some Words With a Mummy”

Some Words With a Mummy  by Edgar Allan Poe  (1850)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 25, 2016

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Mummies are not all that scary are they? These days we tend to poke fun at them  with corny jokes (What did Pharaoh say when he saw the pyramid? “Mummy’s home.”).  Poe may have been one of the first to create amusement at such dead things  in this wackiest of his short stories.

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The story begins with our narrator describing his dull evening at home, when a “furious ringing at the street-door bell, and then an impatient thumping at the knocker, which awakened me at once.

This is the invitation he receives from Dr. Ponnonner:

“Come to me, by all means, my dear good friend, as soon as you receive this. Come and help us to rejoice. At last, by long persevering diplomacy, I have gained the assent of the Directors of the City Museum, to my examination of the Mummy — you know the one I mean. I have permission to unswathe it and open it, if desirable. A few friends only will be present — you, of course. The Mummy is now at my house, and we shall begin to unroll it at eleven to-night.”

Come to this “unwrapping party” and meet the mummy Count Allamistakeo. Even his name is cute! This mummy is not only revived but he can articulate. And the rest is history … Egyptian history that is. American vanity vs. Egyptology vs. science in full Poe style. This is one Poe story you might have missed.

No doubt Poe became inspired to write this adventure from when he observed a mummy on display in the Virginia State Capitol—at the age of 14, he was certainly impressed creatively.

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If you really want a vintage literary experience, listen to the storytelling on audio:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDH4RJNWXMg

Read the short story at Virginia.Edu:

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/mummy.html

 

 

 

 

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Want more Poe literature? Visit these sites:

Edgar Allan Poe Museum website.

Edgar Allan Poe Stories website.

The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe (Smithsonian).

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.

Halloween’s coming soon … and more ghostly literature for next week!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 180 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   Parlor of Horror

 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

EZindiepublishing

 

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Becoming Death

The Death of Olivier Becaille by Émile François Zola (late 1800s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    December 8, 2015

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Her kisses were the last. Olivier Becaille is dead. His wife Marguerite drops to her knees beside his bed and covers his hands with kisses. “Olivier, answer me. Oh, my God, he is dead, dead!”

But Olivier thinks, no, death is not complete annihilation. He could still hear and think, but could not move a single muscle or utter a single sound. Olivier desires to say to Marguerite, “No, my darling I was only asleep. You see I am alive and I love you.” 

A doctor arrives and confirms it. The man is indeed dead and funeral and burial preparations are made.

 I wanted to cry out that I was not dead! My last hope vanished. If I did not wake before eleven on the morrow I should be buried alive. The coffin had been dragged into the center of the room.

 

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What is more terrifying than being buried alive? This story by Émile Zola is truly a tale of terror. You might recall another famous story by Poe The Premature Burial, another somewhat gruesome tale on this literary theme (catalepsy, a physical condition that mimicks death). This story, I promise you, has high emotional suspense. The ending is heart-breaking; I dare you not to gasp.

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Paul Cezanne reading to Émile Zola

Émile Zola, a Nobel Prize nominee in 1901 and 1902 was a writer who exemplified 19th century literary realism, known as naturalism (everyday reality as opposed to Surrealism or Romanticism). One of Zola’s more famous quotes: “I am little concerned with beauty or perfection. I don’t care for the great centuries. All I care about is life, struggle, intensity.”

You can read The Death of Olivier Becaille at Gutenberg.org.

 

imgresFor the ultimate appreciation of this author (and since there is no audio version of The Death of Olivier Becaille) I found an audio by Librivox of Zola’s Jean Gourdon’s Four Days. This is an exquisite short story of four singular days, in spring, summer, autumn, winter, in Jean’s life and his love of Babet. Tender romance, war, tragedy, family trials, and the famously wild Durance River. The pastoral descriptions are vivid, the prose evocative by a writer who clearly is a master of naturalism literature. I absolutely loved this story for its deep expression and the arc of one man’s life told in a space of four days. Please sit back and have a listen to what is probably Zola’s finest piece of fiction.

Listen to Jean Gourdon’s Four Days by Librivox (1.75 hours), at YouTube.com.

Read Jean Gourdon’s Four Days (1880) at OnlineLiterature.com  (novella length, about 80 pages)

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If you’d like to actually see the famous Durance River and have a heart-stopping visual of this river in France, visit this YouTube video link for a 4-minute ride on its rapids. La Durance

https://www.youtube.com/embed/6wWUDZQ9BPc“>

 

Do leave a comment!

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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Poe Stories Read by Vincent Price

Greetings,

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I couldn’t resist sharing this link with you. If you love to listen to supernatural stories, this collection from Open Culture.com (via Spotify, free)  has five hours of Edgar Allan Poe stories read by Vincent Price.  The Raven, The Haunted Palace, the City in the Sea, and much more.  Enjoy this bonus from yours truly for August.

 

http://www.openculture.com/2015/08/5-hours-of-edgar-allan-poe-stories-read-by-vincent-price-basil-rathbone.html

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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Darkness of Solitude on Halloween: Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe’s Necromantic Literature

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 28, 2014

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Halloween is this week. What if you didn’t go trick-or-treating or didn’t answer your doorbell to the playful ghosts and witches? What if you stayed locked in your home, alone, and entertained the darkness on this oh-so-hallowed night. What consciousness of the dead would conspire to make your acquaintance? How brave are you?

Edgar Allan Poe knew the power of being alone. He knew the power of the imagination. He knew the power of death. His characters were masters at conjuring up palpable and mysterious presences. A Tale of the Ragged Mountains is a less popular short story from the Poe collection that I’m betting many here haven’t read. This story is about Augustus Bedloe who travels alone a mountain in Charlottesville in a thick and peculiar mist.

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“Busied in this, I walked on for several hours, during which the mist deepened around me to so great an extent that at length I was reduced to an absolute groping of the way. And now an indescribable uneasiness possessed me–a species of nervous hesitation and tremor. I feared to tread, lest I should be precipitated into some abyss. I remembered, too, strange stories told about these Ragged Hills, and of the uncouth and fierce races of men who tenanted their groves and caverns. A thousand vague fancies oppressed and disconcerted me–fancies the more distressing because vague. Very suddenly my attention was arrested by the loud beating of a drum.”

What happens to Bedloe alone on this mountain? This is a story of mesmerism, disembodiment and reembodiment, bizarre encounters, and death. Perfect for a Halloween read because there is no Halloween without the macabre adventures of Poe.

A Tale of the Ragged Mountains by Edgar Allan Poe (1844)

Read this short story at Classic Literature About.com

In keeping with this theme of solitude, Poe also wrote the following poem Alone, which I’ve posted here. Quite revealing, this poem expresses what it is to love alone and what it might bring.

Alone

images-1From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

[Above art credit:  Ashwini Shrivastava]

 

images-1Lastly, I want to give you Poe’s final story, just before his sudden death. Poe began a manuscript titled The Light-House. Unfinished and unpublished, this is the story of a man with a passion for solitude, who goes to live at the edge of the sea in a lighthouse. Poe wrote only four paragraphs.

“My spirits are beginning to revive already, at the mere thought of being — for once in my life at least — thoroughly alone …”

Read The Light-House at E.A. Poe.org.

 

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Poe’s biographies tell of his great misery and tragedies as well as loneliness. We think of solitude and loneliness as walls that shut out the world. For Poe, the aloneness may have acted as a bridge to his necromantic literature. A master of dark fiction, Poe died, October 7, 1849 at Washington Hospital. His last words, “Lord, help my poor soul.”

 

 

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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Lady Madeline of Usher

Fall of the House of Usher  by Edgar Allan Poe

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 15, 2014

 

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“His heart is a suspended lute, as soon as it is touched, it resounds.”

So goes the translation of Poe’s opening lines in French by De Beranger. Why am I featuring Poe’s most famous and probably most read short story? Because as the heart resounds, so does this story, just as Poe intended.

Why did Poe write this particular story?.

Once upon a time … oh no, let me rephrase with more modern language for this report that inspired Poe to create the Fall of the House of Usher.

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House_of_usherAs it was said … On Boston’s Lewis Wharf during the 1800s, a house stood, named the Usher House. After years of abandonment and decay, the structure was torn down. In the rubble, and in the deepest part of the cellar, behind a rusted iron gate two skeletons were found. Their boney remains intertwined each other in an embrace. Local gossip pointed to the couple’s adulterous rendezvous, apparently trapped in the cellar by the woman’s avenging husband. Romantic? Grisly? Or something else.

Clearly something else, as Poe redeveloped this report into a story suggesting vampirism, incest, murder, and the horror of being trapped and abandoned to die.

 

 

The Fall of the House of Usher  is a fiction with high symbolism of splits and fissures, mad reflections, and grim resoundings at every turn.

From the beginning lines—

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.”

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To the ending scene—

“… a blood-red moon … a fierce breath of the whirlwind … the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently…”

There’s a heartbeat of madness throbbing here and you are pulled deeper into the disquieting rhythms. Our narrator discovers an occult presence growing not only within the house and gardens but also within Roderick Usher who is obsessed with the “grim phantasm, FEAR.

 

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But it’s Lady Madeline Usher I am focused on today. We meet her only three times and she never utters a single word. Is she even real? Might she be a ghost? Madeline is said to be of cataleptic nature. Roderick claims she is his twin sister. Does the heart resound more in siblings and even more so in twins?

 

In full Poe fashion of psychological drama (some melodrama of course), Madeline holds the true mystery in this story. Come and spend some time with Roderick and his sister. Let our narrator point out the clues of fissures and collapses of not only the crumbling Usher House, but of Roderick and Madeline’s very souls.

 

.I think one of the most entertaining ways to appreciate this story is to read along with an audio version. Let the sound of Poe’s language throb into your mind. Let the words on the page drive the images vividly. Add candlelight. And sit by a dark window.

 

Read the full text at XRoads at Virginia Edu.

 

Listen to the audio at AudioTreasury, Librivox Recording. Scroll down to No. 4 on the black selection box. Recorded by Eden Rae Hedrick. (An excellent reading! I like this one the best.)

 

This link here at Lit2Go (44 minutes) has both the text and audio on one page but the reading is not as expressive as Eden Rae Hedrick’s above at Audio Treasury.

 

Watch the adapted film version by MGM with Vincent Price and Myrna Fahey.

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

 

 

 

 

 

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