Category Archives: Gothic Horror

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

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Catherine Wells’ Ghost Story

The Ghost by Catherine Wells (wife of H.G. Wells), 1928

Tuesday’s Ghost Tale, February 5, 2019

 

 

A big old house. A lonely young woman bedridden in the sick room with grapes and lemonade. Uncle Timothy and cousins are at a party downstairs. The mysterious and romantic Mr. Percival East enters. And then a leaping lamp flame, creaking paneling, and a fallen fire.

 

The joy and romance of ghost stories are everlasting fiction. Catherine Wells, wife of H.G. Wells (his second wife, Amy Catherine Robbins, also known as Jane), wrote this fiction sometime in the early 1900s. This is an obscure little story that has been long buried and forgotten over the past decades, nearly 100 years. No print version is to be found online—only an audio version available. I love discovering forgotten stories by an author I didn’t know existed. If you are an H.G. Wells fan, you might enjoy Catherine’s story. I have to say this audio is lovely fun—a 15-minute ghostly adventure sure to please.  I like to imagine Catherine writing this story at her desk in her home at Spade House.  Today we resurrect her fiction. Perhaps her ghost will stir as we listen.

 

Listen to the Audio of The Ghost here at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_XsiSZk8D0

 

 

The Book of Catherine Wells is a collection of short stories and poems. Contents: The Last Fairy; The Beautiful House; The Dragon-Fly; May Afternoon; The Ghost; Winter Sunset; The Oculist; The Emerald; Fear; Cyanide; The War: Spring 1915; June 1916; and Red Cross Workroom; The Draught of Oblivion; In a Walled Garden; The Kneeling Image; Robe De Boudoir; Everymother; April in the Wood; The Fugitives; Two Love Songs; Music Set to Words; and Night in the Garden.

 

 

 

 

H.G. Wells at Spade House in 1907

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

2 Comments

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The Sussex Vampire, A.C. Doyle

The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire  by Arthur Conan Doyle (1921)

Tuesday’s Tale   January 15, 2019

 

Arthur Conan Doyle—a contemporary of Bram Stoker—was a spiritualist, known to attend séances. Doyle believed in tiny females with transparent wings—fairies. Doyle fans might recall that he wrote a nonfiction book The Coming of the Fairies.  In 1893 he  joined the British Society for Psychical Research. He also investigated a haunting and was convinced the psychic phenomena was caused by the spirit of the dead child. So when he wrote this story The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, a reader might wonder what he really did believe about the supernatural.

In this story, a husband suspects his wife to be a vampire. Vampires? In Sussex? Holmes laughs at such an idea. We begin our tale on Baker Street, of course, with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

But then, Holmes and Watson depart for Sussex …

“It was evening of a dull, foggy November day when, having left our bags at the Chequers, Lamberley, we drove through the Sussex clay of a long winding lane and finally reached the isolated and ancient farmhouse …”

 

 

 

 

You can read the short story at Ebooks.adelaide.edu:

https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/doyle/arthur_conan/d75ca/chapter5.html

 

Listen to the audio (43 minutes)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08A9da6TYOc

If you enjoyed this short story you might like to read Vampire Stories, available on Amazon.com.

 

 

Days before his death Conan Doyle wrote,

“The reader will judge that I have had many adventures. The greatest and most glorious of all awaits me now.”

 

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

1 Comment

Filed under classic horror stories, detective fiction, fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror, horror blogs, literature, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa

Mad Dream of Happiness

The Dream   by Mary Shelley  (1832)

For the anniversary of Mary Shelley’s birth August 30, 1797

Tuesday’s Gothic Tale    August  28, 2018

 

I loved this story. Stories that involve dreams always intrigue me because the subconscious world is so mysterious and so boundless. The kingdom of the night! So fascinating is dream life and one of the reasons I wrote Night Sea Journey.  In literature, dreams have a strong presence with many famous titles and authors: Homer’s The Iliad,  Alice in Wonderland,  Shakespeare of course,  Pierre’s dream in War and Peace,  Samsa in Metamorphosis,  Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the dreams in Anna Karenina. In art too. Who doesn’t know this painting The Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli.

 

One of my favorites is The Artist’s Dream, George H. Comegys (1840). The artist is exhausted, having visions of  Rubens, Rembrandt, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael Michelangelo, and others. So compelling!

 

In Shelley’s  short story The Dream, we sink into the era of King Henry IV. We are in France and inside the life of Countess Constance de Villeneuve in her château overlooking the Loire River. She mourns the death of her father and brothers killed in the war. Solitude, weeping, and loneliness are her daily companions. But she also mourns her love for the dashing knight Gaspar, son of her father’s enemy (two feuding families). Torn between her loyalty to her family and her desire for Gaspar, she decides to sleep on the rock of St. Catherine, who is said to visit dreams. Alone on the narrow ledge hanging over the tumbling Loire River. Constance must follow her destiny …

“I will rest to-morrow night on St. Catherine’s bed: and if, as I have heard, the saint deigns to direct her votaries in dreams, I will be guided by her; and, believing that I act according to the dictates of Heaven, I shall feel resigned even to the worst.”

 

What is the worst? Death by drowning in the Loire River? This story is about uncertain human love, dream messages, and visions of ghosts.

 

We recognize the birth date of Mary Shelley on August 30. This author is famous for her ‘midnight pillow’ explorations, from which she became inspired to write Frankenstein. In that novel, nightmares and dreams are significant.

“My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed—

my dearest pleasure when free.”  Mary Shelley

Celebrate Mary Shelley today and read the short story here at American Literature. Please comment if you liked this post!

https://americanliterature.com/author/mary-shelley/short-story/the-dream 

 

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

2 Comments

Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, horror blogs, mysteries, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales, suspense, Women In Horror

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

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

2 Comments

Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, fiction bloggers, flash fiction, free short stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Night Sea Journey, occult, quiet horror, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural fiction, tales of terror

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

///////////////////////////////////

 

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

1 Comment

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