Category Archives: Gothic fiction

Jasper Peacock, Mystery of the Unknowable

Jasper Peacock by Paula Cappa

READING FICTION BLOG

Published at Coffin Bell Literary Journal of Dark Literature

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery    September 3, 2019

 

 

What is the mystery of the unknowable? Is it the inner realm of consciousness? And might there be a ghost residing there?

Come meet Jasper Peacock, a famous artist, who knows how to make the darkness conscious.

 

 

Click on this link at Coffin Bell   https://coffinbell.com/jasper-peacock/

to read my newest short story online. If you love dark fiction, I encourage you to read the other shorts published in this literary journal as well.  And don’t be shy about LIKING or SHARING! Thanks to everyone who reads this blog regularly, reads my novels and short stories, and supports my work!

 

Coffin Bell is a new quarterly online journal of dark literature, which reaches readers in 104 countries.

Editor-in-Chief Tamara Burross Grisanti is a writer, editor, and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poetry and fiction appear or are forthcoming in New World WritingEunoia Review, Chicago Literati, Former Cactus, Corvus Review, Pussy Magic, The New Mexico Review, and The Literary Hatchet. She lives in Buffalo, New York, where she spends her summers dreading the winters.

“Coffin Bell publishes new and emerging voices alongside established writers. I’m a believer in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s assertion that “fiction reveals truth that reality obscures. We [at Coffin Bell] nominate for the Pushcart Prize, the Best Small Fictions, and the Best of the Net Awards.”  —Tamara Burross Grisanti

 

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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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, dark literature, demons, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literary short stories, murder mystery, mysteries, paranormal, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror

Between the Darkness and the Dawn, a short story

Tuesday’s Summer Ghost Story,  July 16, 2019

READING FICTION BLOG

While October remains the most popular month for reading ghost stories conjuring images  of rusty pumpkin fields and soaring black crows under dark skies, I am here today to give you a ghost story for July. A summer ghost, if you will.

What lies between the darkness and the dawn? Maybe a gap in time or space where a ghost might slip into our earthly world? How about a summer read of a ghost, a famous literary figure, a ghost hunter, and a dash of historical elements? Between the Darkness and the Dawn is my own short story, originally published at Whistling Shade Literary Journal.

Come to the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts, to the home of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. It seems appropriate to read about Hawthorne this month: his birthday is July 4, 1804. And to read a ghost story set in Concord, one of the most haunted locations in America with the ghosts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and others reported to still be present in this historic town.

 

You can download this short story (40-minute read) FREE on Amazon.com:

 

REVIEWS

“Concord, Massachusetts–a town that appears very much today as it did hundreds of years ago–is the perfect setting for a tale of the mingling of time periods. Cappa’s “Between Darkness and Dawn” is as nuanced and atmospheric as the stories of Hawthorne himself. Mesmerizing.” —Erika Robuck, author of House of Hawthorne: A Novel.

“This is a mind-bending tale from a very accomplished author. It takes a healthy dose of historical fiction to go with the supernatural. What appealed to me most was the sense of atmosphere. The author captured the Gothic, Poe~like feeling.” —V.M. Sawh, author of Cinders, Hontas, and Anatasia.

Visit the Old Manse Website:

http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/metro-west/old-manse.html

News about the Old Manse:  https://concord.wickedlocal.com/article/20150130/news/150139951

More on Hawthorne here at Reading Fiction Blog: https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/ghost-by-moonlight-anniversary-of-nathaniel-hawthornes-death/

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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A Kingdom of Spirits

Napoleon and the Spectre by Charlotte Brontë (written in 1833, published in 1925)

[From the manuscript the “Green Dwarf”]

 

Tuesday’s Tale   April 30 2019

“Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits; that world is round us, for it is everywhere.”  From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Did you know that a fragment of Napoleon’s coffin was given to  author Charlotte Brontë?

[Napoleon’s coffin aboard La Belle Poule. The coffin was covered by a black velvet drape decorated with golden bees, eagles, and silver cross. At 8am on Sunday 18 October la Belle Poule set sail.]

Lots of legends are out there about Napoleon’s ghost haunting people. The Museum of The Black Watch has a letter describing a British soldier’s encounter with Napoleon’s ghost during the removal of Napoleon’s remains from St. Helena to France in 1840. Napoleon was said to be highly superstitious: lucky starts, omens, lucky dates, and he frequently saw a phantom he called the Red Man who appeared at the Battle of the Pyraminds, at Wagram, at his coronation, and on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.

Perhaps because Charlotte possessed a part of Napoleon’s coffin, she was inspired to write a short story about Napoleon, not as a gallant emperor, but as a haunted emperor.

The story opens with Napoleon ready for sleep when …

A deep groan burst from a kind of closet in one corner of the apartment.

“Who’s there?” cried the Emperor, seizing his pistols. “Speak, or I’ll blow your brains out.”

This threat produced no other effect than a short, sharp laugh, and a dead silence followed.’

 

This ghost story has a bit of verbal irony, ghostly setting and mood, and the atmospherics are amusing. Not Charlotte’s best work but an enjoyable 10-minute read by one of our most beloved authors. If you are a Charlotte Brontë fan, you really must read this one.

Read the short story (10 minutes) at Gutenberg Australia

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0602171h.html

Listen to the audio on YouTube.com (8 minutes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuJ6QCdTwtQ

 

Charlotte Brontë was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of the three Brontë sisters Emily and Anne. Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre under the pen name Currer Bell. She began writing poems and ghost stories at the age of twelve. Raised in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, the sisters were dreamy if not lonely children. Their brother Branwell made up stories of an unreal world, writing them in tiny handwriting on small sheets of paper, which they stitched together to look like real books. The image below is by Branwell, with himself painted out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronte Parsonage Museum

 

 

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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Hues of Death: The Crystal Cup

The Crystal Cup by Bram Stoker (1872)

Tuesday’s Tale   March 26, 2019

 

The Crystal Cup was Bram Stoker’s first published short story. This is a tale of love, death, power, moonlight, and of course a woman. Her name is Aurora. We are in a great palace with the king who commands an artist create a crystal goblet. But to do this, our artist must abandon his beloved wife and be imprisoned within the dungeon walls inside the palace. Freedom, artistic creativity, and the power of beauty are all themes here. And dark elements too in living hues of death. Quite an adventure in stunning prose that is vintage Stoker. These three short viewpoints will capture you until the very end. An extraordinary piece of fiction and not to be missed if you are a classic fiction aficionado.

The Crystal Cup Chapter I. The Dream-Birth

 

“I rise from my work and spring up the wall till I reach the embrasure. I grasp the corner of the stonework and draw myself up till I crouch in the wide window. Sea, sea, out away as far as my vision extends. There I gaze till my eyes grow dim; and in the dimness of my eyes my spirit finds its sight.

The Crystal Cup Chapter II. The Feast of Beauty

“Strange story has that cup. Born to life in the cell of a captive torn from his artist home beyond the sea, to enhance the splendour of a feast by his labour—seen at work by spies, and traced and followed till a chance—cruel chance for him—gave him into the hands of the emissaries of my master. He too, poor moth, fluttered about the flame: the name of freedom spurred him on to exertion till he wore away his life.”

The Crystal Cup Chapter III. The Story of the Moonbeam

 

“Slowly I creep along the bosom of the waters … The time has come when I can behold the palace without waiting to mount upon the waves. It is built of white marble, and rises steep from the brine. Its sea-front is glorious with columns and statues; and from the portals the marble steps sweep down, broad and wide to the waters, and below them, down as deep as I can see.

No sound is heard, no light is seen. A solemn silence abounds, a perfect calm.

Slowly I climb the palace walls …”

 

Read it slowly to savor every word.  At Classic Literature Co. UK:

https://classic-literature.co.uk/bram-stoker-the-crystal-cup/

Listen to the Librivox audio at US Archive.org:

 

 

 

Bram Stoker is recognized as one of the most prominent Gothic authors of the Victorian era. Like his immortal creation Count Dracula, Stoker’s life is shrouded in mystery, from his rumored participation in occult circles, to his purported death from syphilis.  His interests included Egyptology, Babylonian lore, astral projections, and alchemy. He was rumored to be a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric circle of magicians attended by W.B. Yeats and Aleister Crowley.

 

 

 

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

4 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural tales

When I Was a Witch

When I Was A Witch  by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1910)

Tuesday’s Tale of Witches    February 19, 2019

Women and their identities have long been a theme in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fiction. This short-short is a cunning little story about when wishes come true. If you are an animal lover of cats, dogs, horses, and fascinated by the power of witches, you’ve got to read this one!

 

“The thing began all of a sudden, one October midnight–the 30th, to be exact. It had been hot, really hot, all day, and was sultry and thunderous in the evening; no air stirring, and the whole house stewing with that ill-advised activity which always seems to move the steam radiator when it isn’t wanted. I was in a state of simmering rage–hot enough, even without the weather and the furnace–and I went up on the roof to cool off.”

 

 

Read the short story (30-minute read) here at Fantasy-Magazine:

http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/fiction/when-i-was-a-witch/

Listen to the audio (21 minutes) on YouTube:

Librivox  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3XDqr7H3rc

 

Many of you here at this blog know Gilman for her ground-breaking, bestselling The Yellow Wallpaper (read it here). She was a member of the prominent Beecher family of Connecticut, author of novels and nonfiction, 200 short stories, plays and thousands of essays, a poet, philosopher, and Utopian feminist for social reform.  Suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt called Gilman “the most original and challenging mind which the (women’s) movement produced.”  Gilman was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman took her own life in 1935 after learning she had inoperable breast cancer.

 

“It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it.”  – CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN

 

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

Leave a comment

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, paranormal, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror, witches, Women In Horror

A Dark Power on Thanksgiving

John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving   by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1840)

Tuesday’s Tale      November 20, 2018

 

 

What is your most memorable Thanksgiving  Day? A happy time with family and delicious treats? Or a fight over the meal with an opponent? Or was it darker? Were you visited by a guilty soul at your Thanksgiving meal? In this 15-minute short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, on Thanksgiving evening, the blacksmith John Inglefield hosts a Thanksgiving dinner. His daughter Mary “a rose-bud almost blossomed” is present, an apprentice Robert Moore, and a vacant chair is reserved at the table for John’s wife who had passed away since the previous Thanksgiving.

To say this is a ghostly tale is up to interpretation, that is how deep you desire to understand metaphors of the mysterious. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne takes the family Thanksgiving tradition to another level. That level is clearly in the supernatural and as dark as it gets. I doubt that most readers can fix this story into a single interpretation. No black-and-white thinking here: prepare to awaken your imagination.

 

 

They are all seated round the dinner table with the warmth of the firelight “throwing it strongest light,” when John’s long lost daughter Prudence returns home for the festivities. She has a “bewitching pathos.” The theme here is beyond the grave. Fire is mentioned 14 times in this very short story—which is our dominant clue to this strange and thought-provoking tale about not only the soul but going home. The happy moments fly away as a creeping evil comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Our humanness is strange, indeed. I love how Hawthorne leaves all the doors open on this one to absolutely haunt the reader.

 

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If you are a Hawthorne fan, or even if you are not keen on his gloomy style and psychological twists, this story requires a slow read to really enjoy the complexities of the images and symbols Hawthorne uses to touch his reader. As with all his fiction, human nature is portrayed with unforgettable drama.

 

Read it here at Online Literature

http://www.online-literature.com/hawthorne/2830/ 

If you have a comment on this story, please speak up. What great mystery went on here?

 

THE OLD MANSE

This is the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s dining room and hearth at the Old Manse, where he lived in Concord, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

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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Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic fiction, haunted mind, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, occult, phantoms, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa

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

4 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, supernatural tales, suspense, tales of terror