Category Archives: horror films

Dabbled in Blood, the Masked Figure

Tuesday’s Short Story, January 25, 2022

The Masque of the Red Death  by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

 

 

This month of January is the anniversary of  Edgar Allan Poe (birth January 19, 1809). What better time to mark our appreciation of this great writer than to read one of his stories?

The Masque of the Red Death is fast 20-minute read for readers who love supernatural and mystery. I think this story has a timeliness during this Covid pandemic when we are all wearing masks and where many of us wish we could run away to our private abbeys to stay safe.

“The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous.”

Prince Prospero summons his dominions to his castle, an abbey in the far hills. Here the ‘gay society’ is safe to enjoy themselves in the seven rooms of different colors—which have its own mystery. We are at a masked ball with music and dancing, but who arrives? An uninvited mysterious figure. In the seventh room that is draped in black velvet with blood red window panes, our tale goes deep with supernatural, psychological, and horrific elements in grand Poe style. This is soooooo Gothic!

Read the short story at Gutenberg.org

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1064/1064-h/1064-h.htm

 

Listen to the audio read by Sir Christopher Lee:

 

Watch the film created at the University of Technology, Sydney for Media Arts and Production (15 minutes). Sweeping, baroque, and spooky.

 

 

Poe wrote in many genres. He was the first to include deep psychological and intuitive horror in his stories. His tales often reflect that the true monster of evil is within each person and what happens when that evil is acted upon. His most famous work is The Raven.

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories (some with audio), by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

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 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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More Than A Shadow for Christmas

A Warning to the Curious, A Ghost Story for Christmas  by M.R. James (1925)

December’s Short Story,  Tuesday, December 14, 2021

M.R. James  (Montague Rhodes James) is the master of British ghost stories. Five stars all the way.  No arguments. He is known as the originator of the “antiquarian ghost story.”

This story was written to be read aloud on Christmas Eve, like many of James’s stories were at the time. I love his style of writing because he often brings up the mysterious in a way that leaves you chilled to the bone with his supernatural manifestations. In his A Warning to the Curious,  A Christmas Story we have a multiple layered narrative that is creepy and unsettling— storytelling so smooth, you’ll be unable to stop reading. His skills in drawing in the reader by implication and suggestion of the malevolent  supernatural reach far deeper into the imagination than explicit horror narratives. He does write exquisitely in  “quiet horror,” which is my genre!

The setting is the wind-beaten coastal town of Seaburgh. Heaths, fir woods, a gorse, church tower, white windmills and cottages of bright red brick.  Quaint, yes, but buried here is an Anglo-Saxon crown (one of three holy crowns of East Anglia). An antiquary archeologist, Paxton (A James’ classic gentleman protagonist), is vacationing at the village inn and discovers where this crown is buried in “a mound in the woods” of Seaburgh . Dare he dig it up? He does, of course he does. And soon after Paxton begins to notice a “dim presence” following him … and waiting for him in secret places.

The theme is obviously curiosity but with tones of the attraction to fear. And as ghost story readers that we all are, attractions to fear are always at the core.

 

You can read it below, listen to the audio, or watch the 1972 film, which is vintage horror.

Read the full short story (35-minute read) at Gutenberg Australia

https://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0605921h.html  

Listen to the audio on YouTube.com:

 

Watch the 1972 film broadcast by the BBC:

 

 

James’s ghost stories were published in a series of collections: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1904), More Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (1911), A Thin Ghost and Others (1919), and A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories (1925).

In the anthology Ghosts and Marvels, James is quoted: “Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are, to me, the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo. … Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.”

 

As an extra treat, you might want to try BRIT BOX from your cable stations. They are showing MR James’ A Ghost Story for Christmas collection (available from 20th December 2021).

Based on the works of MR James’ chilling short stories, this collection of BBC produced adaptations of ghost stories is an extra special Christmas treat. These adaptations, which have a subtlety and style all of their own, have been a major influence on many contemporary British horror filmmakers and have come to be some of the most sought after British TV titles of all time by their legions of eager fans.

BBC’s classic M.R. James ghost stories coming to BritBox this Christmas

 

TO ALL, HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAY SEASON AND PROSPERITY FOR ALL THE NEW YEARS TO COME!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX OF AUTHORS’ TALES 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, crime, sci-fi, romance, ‘quiet horror,’ and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading one short story every month. 

Comments are welcome!

Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

      Monster Librarian     

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

Literature Blog Directory   

Blog Collection

Blog Top Sites

 

Discover Author of the Week posted on Mondays!

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Author of the Week Deborah Harkness, October 11

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   October 11

Deborah Harkness

(Scholar and Novelist: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Mythology, Paranormal, Supernatural)

 

“I definitely see my historical work as a process of detection. Historians fit pieces of evidence together and hope that they eventually form a coherent picture. Often, a historian’s most compelling questions—and the most difficult to answer—concern personal motivations and why something happened the way it did. These are questions we have in common with detectives.”

“Fiction is more like alchemy, though. You take a little of this, a little of that, combine it, and hope that something wonderful occurs so that your creation is greater than the sum of its individual parts.”

“We make our own monsters.”

“I’m a storyteller, and I have really good material to work with: I’ve been studying magic and the occult since about 1983.”

“A lot of our assumptions of the world are fairly cynical, fairly negative, and assume the worst. What our reading tastes show – in this rush to fantasy, romance, whatever – is that we actually still want to believe in a world of possibility, in a world of mystery.”

 

Deborah Harkness  is an American scholar and novelist. She is best known as the author of best selling novels A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life.  Before becoming a best selling author, she spent more than a quarter of a century as a student and scholar of history, with degrees from Mount Holyoke College, Northwestern University, and the University of California at Davis. She has researched  the history of magic and science in Europe, especially during the period from 1500 to 1700. Harkness’s scholarly work can be found in John Dee’s Conversations with Angels: Cabala, Alchemy, and the End of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution (Yale University Press, 2007). She has received  fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Humanities Center.

 

Interview with Deborah Harkness, AuthorMagazine.org (10 minutes):

 

 

“A wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy with all the magic of Harry Potter and Twilight” (People Magazine).

“Romantic, erudite, suspenseful.” (The Oprah Magazine)

Trailer for original series Discovery of Witches, Season One:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visit Deborah Harkness’s Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Deborah-Harkness/e/B001IO8EOQ

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author on Mondays at Reading Fiction Blog!

Browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors. Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

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Author of the Week, James Herbert, April 19

AUTHOR OF THE WEEK   April 19

James Herbert

(Novels and Short Stories, Supernatural, Ghost Stories, Horror)

 

 

“I’m never going to win the Booker and I have no great literary pretensions, but I know how to write well. I do it the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper and I know my spelling and grammar.”

“I have a dread of sounding pretentious and try not to talk too much about what I do. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to point it out: I’m not just in it for the gore.”

“To be haunted is to glimpse a truth that might best be hidden.”

“I’ve actually seen a ghost, so I know what they are really about.”

 

James Herbert (1943 – 2013) was an English author of the supernatural and popular for his horror fiction. He sold 54 million books that were translated into 34 languages. His best known novels are The Fog, The Survivor, and The Dark. Also the Ghosts of Sleath, The Secret of Crickley Hall , The Dark. Some of his novels were adapted for film, television, and radio. Herbert’s final novel Ash imagines Princess Diana and her secret son as well as Lord Lucan, Colonel Gaddafi and Robert Maxwell living together in a Scottish castle. Stephen King said of Herbert’s stories, “His work has a raw urgency.”

 

Interview by Terry Wogan with James Herbert. True horror fans will love this!

 

BBC interviews James Herbert on his experiences with ghosts.

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/19463081

 

James Herbert Amazon Page:

https://www.amazon.com/James-Herbert/e/B000AP90NS

 

Please join me in my reading nook and discover an author every week at Reading Fiction Blog! And browse the Index of Authors’ Tales above to find over 200 free short stories by over 100 famous authors.

Once a month I feature a FREE short story by contemporary and classic authors.

Leave a comment

Filed under Author of the Week, classic horror stories, dark literature, fiction, fiction bloggers, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, horror, horror blogs, horror films, literary horror, literature, paranormal, phantoms, psychological horror, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, Stephen King, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural tales, tales of terror