Category Archives: historical fiction

Baba-Yaga and Vasilisa: Creative Fires

Vasilisa the Beautiful, Russian folktale (1860s)

Tuesday’s Fairy Tale      January 14, 2020

 

Baba-Yaga lives in a hut made of chicken legs with a fence of skulls on sticks.  Magical words can make the hut turn. There are variations of this fairy tale over the years (Vasilisa the Wise, Vasilisa the Brave, Vasilisa the Beautiful, Vasilisa the Fair), but  in most versions Baba-Yaga is known to eat people, especially children who smell of Russian flesh.  Some versions have Baba-Yaga as benevolent, in others, she is wicked. This is a story about fear, strength in adversity, wit, wisdom, and what we commonly define as witches. The word baba refers to babushka, or grandmother.

Vasilisa is a child who lives with her nasty stepmother and stepsisters. The ugly stepsisters send Vasilisa to the visit the witch Baba-Yaga, so she can fetch her magical fire and bring it back to light their house. But the sisters are hoping Baba-Yaga will devour Vasilisa the beautiful.

The frightened little girl spends days walking through the dark woods to Baba-Yaga’s hut.

 

Once Vasilisa meets Baba-Yaga, she discovers this crone is a wild and untamed woman. She is cruel to Vasilisa and forces her to perform unending tasks every day, promising no firelight to bring home. In desperation, Vasilisa calls upon her secret doll that her mother had given her before she died.

“Please help me. Baba-Yaga has given me an impossible task to do and if I fail she will eat me.”

What happens? Vasilisa defeats her opponent with truth, integrity, and a secret power.

This story is actually a reflection of maternal wisdom and feminine intuition, full of symbolism of light, darkness, and the feminine face of power. One might call it a dark goddess story because it identifies the blessings of all mothers (including Baba-Yaga archetypes) who came before us to achieve our strength, liberation, and independence. Sophia Wisdom is here too. We fear aging and death. The interaction of Sophia Wisdom (within Vasilisa) with Baba-Yaga is a force that assists Vasilisa in confronting her highest fear, death.

 

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés interprets the story of Baba-Yaga in her seminal work on fairy-tales, Women who Run with the Wolves. Estés writes:

“To my mind, the old Russian tale “Vasalisa” is a woman’s initiation story with few essential bones astray. It is about the realization that most things are not as they seem. As women we call upon our intuition and instincts in order to sniff things out. We use all our senses to wring the truth from things, to extract nourishment from our own ideas, to see what there is to see to know what there is to know, to be the keepers of our own creative fires, and to have intimate knowing about the Life/Death/ Life cycles of all nature – that is an initiated woman.”

“Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women.  The Wild Woman is both magic and medicine.  Fertile and life-giving, it is a psychology of women in the truest sense, a knowing of the soul.”

From Caitlin Matthews author of Sophia Goddess of Wisdom,  “Sophia, Holy Wisdom, came into the Russian soul never to leave it. She is deeply associated with the native images of Vasilisa and others.”

If you are tempted to read this 10-minute story, take the path through the woods with the little girl Vasilisa and meet Baba-Yaga. Read it here at SurLaLunefairytales.com :

http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/babayaga/index.html

 

Another version is here: Listen to the YouTube.com audio of A Story of Baba-Yaga

 

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    HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian       The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

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Frankenstein and Beyond for Halloween

Beyond Castle Frankenstein

Short story by Paula Cappa

published in Journals of Horror, Found Fiction, anthology edited by Terry M. West

October 31, Halloween, 2019

 

Journals of Horror, an anthology with 29 stories, is written by some of the hottest talent in the supernatural, ghost, and horror genre.  I am proud to be among them with my story Beyond Castle Frankenstein.

If you’ve not read Journals of Horror, Found Fiction, you can take advantage of the Halloween sale going on at Ereader News Today at .99 cents. This sale will run until November 2nd.

Click  to purchase at .99 cents via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MTB67GY?tag=enttodaysdls-20

Review of Journals of Horror from Tracy Crockett at Halloweenforevermore.com “Easily in my top 5 best anthologies in the horror genre. This anthology has a little bit of everything going on …  amazingly well-written and the stories are very vivid. The aspect of this read that impressed me the most was that it was as if all of the stories seemed to be conjoined yet were their own little devilish tales. I highly recommend this work to any horror reader. It’s top notch.”

My followers and readers here know that sometimes my supernatural short stories are historical (Between the Darkness and the Dawn takes place at Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Old Manse; Hildie at the Ghost Shore is the Mistress of Runecraft in Old Belgium.) Beyond Castle Frankenstein is about Mary Shelley and the secret inside Castle Frankenstein, which is a ‘rough-hewn rock mansion of turrets and towers perched on a craggy hilltop over the Rhine in Darmstadt, Germany.’

 

The secret I speak of  is in a letter that Mary Shelley hid behind an oil painting, entitled Casa Magni, that was housed inside the chapel adjacent to Castle Frankenstein. Below is the Shelley’s home Casa Magni in Lerici, Italy.

Casa Magni, the Shelleys’ home in Lerici

Read about Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley and their home Casa Magni:

https://wordsworth.org.uk/blog/2016/05/27/the-shelleys-in-italy/

 

Know this: there are such things as phantoms of paintings. Art is a powerful entity. Paintings can often possess a spirituality that lingers in our world wherever they have taken residence. Beyond Castle Frankenstein is such a story.

Mary Shelley was an extraordinary writer and her novel Frankenstein will never die. We remember Mary Shelley  now because every Halloween Frankenstein comes alive again.

 

 

 

Listen to the audio of Frankenstein at YouTube.com 

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL MY FELLOW GHOST STORY LOVERS!

 

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

Literature Blog Directory

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Leave a comment

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Within the Monastery of Mountains: Melville’s The Piazza

Tuesday’s Tale    July 30 and August 1, 2019

READING FICTION BLOG

MELVILLE AT 200

 

August 1st is the 200th anniversary of Herman Melville’s birth date, born in 1819 (click to visit Arrowhead website). Hence, the celebration this week of Herman Melvillle’s fiction. I am featuring one of his short stories The Piazza because it reflects his homestead, Arrowhead, at the foot of Mt. Greylock in Pittsfield, MA.

My readers here know how precious Mt. Greylock is to my creative writing, and many who have read my supernatural mystery Greylock, will appreciate this post today. Melville began writing his most famous Moby Dick in 1850 during the snowy month of February at Arrowhead, the farmhouse built in 1780. The novel, as we all know, is a story of the unrelenting Captain Ahab who is driven to pursue the white whale who ends up destroying him. Melville would sit at his desk in the upstairs study, his window in full view of Mt. Greylock.

 

The piazza, after which the story and the book “The Piazza Tales” were named, is a porch Melville added to the north side of Arrowhead’s farmhouse shortly after he purchased the farm.

(Arrowhead, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the piazza on the back side of the farmhouse.)

When I visited Arrowhead Homestead Museum in Pittsfield and gave a reading of Greylock there in 2017, I toured Melville’s home, walked through his study and ran my finger along his desk as if I could touch the dead author. For a long moment I soaked in the view of Mt. Greylock, one of the most ghostly and mysterious mountains in Northeast America. As a writer of ghosts stories, I sometimes think we can connect to the dead through our own thoughts and by reading their words; this moment was a deep one for me.

 

 

 

 

Here you can see Melville’s exact view out his study window of Mt. Greylock. Look closely and you’ll see it resembles a great humped whale in the sea of sky. How inspiring is that! Visitors to Arrowhead can  stand on that piazza and soak in the same view Melville did when he spent hours there in his rocking chair.

The works Melville wrote at Arrowhead included Moby Dick, Pierre, The Confidence-Man, Israel Potter, a collection entitled The Piazza Tales, and such short stories as I and My Chimney, Benito Cereno, Bartleby the Scrivener, and The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids. Melville became known as one of the Dark Romantic writers, much like Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody, Mary Shelley, and Poe.

This short story, The Piazza, takes place at Arrowhead—a view from the piazza—and the narrator makes a magical journey to the mountain he calls “old Greylock, like a Sinai.” Sitting on this piazza, our narrator absorbs all of nature on the mountain—the far forest, hill and valley, flower and berry bush, and the woozy air. Light, shadows, dreamy thoughts from this mountain play hide-and-seek before his eyes and mind.  At one point yellow birds appear on a darkened path. Then, little footprints form among the ferns. He follows the footprints to a cottage, thinking he is entering a fairy land, a place where blond fairies dance.

Melville brings us beyond Mt. Greylock, into a place between two azure worlds. Can you smell the moss? Hear the yellow birds? Can you hear Marianna’s dusky voice? Listen with your highest awareness to truly enjoy this adventure with Melville. Celebrate one of our greatest American writers at 200 years.

 

Read the short story here:

https://americanliterature.com/author/herman-melville/short-story/the-piazza

 

Listen to the audio on You Tube by Librivox Recordings:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x266a5alws4

 

 

 

View my original blog post from my book signing at Arrowhead at the foot of  Mt. Greylock: https://paulacappa.wordpress.com/2017/06/

THE PIAZZA TALES BY HERMAN MELVILLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Piazza Tales include 6 short stories: The Piazza, Bartleby the Scrivener, Benito Cereno, The Lightning-Rod Man, The Encantadas or Enchanted Isles, The Bell-Tower.  You can read all these tales FREE at Gutenberg.org: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/15859

The Melville Society: https://melvillesociety.org/

Melville at 200: https://melvillesociety.org/calendar/eventdetail/9/-/melville-s-birthday

Please comment below if you are a Melville fan

or an admirer of Mt. Greylock!

 

 

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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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

Leave a comment

Filed under fiction, fiction bloggers, free horror short stories online, free short stories, free short stories online, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, historical fiction, historical ghost stories, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, mysteries, paranormal, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short stories online, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, supernatural tales