Category Archives: literature

Beyond Castle Frankenstein, a Ghost Story of Mary Shelley

 

July 6, 2020   Beyond Castle Frankenstein by Paula Cappa

Inside the ruins of Castle Frankenstein in Darmstadt, Germany, a ghost resides.  This is no ordinary ghost. It is a ghost of the unfinished.  The saddest thing about ghosts is that they have no home. They exist in a kind of blue dementia where most of us are afraid to enter. If a time ever comes to you when you are tempted to enter that blue dementia, I encourage you to open the door.  This short story, a fiction both historical and biographical, Beyond Castle Frankenstein, is what happened to Mary Shelley when she opened that door and passed over threshold.

This story was originally published in Journals of Horror, Found Fiction, edited by Terry M. West, at Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.  I have reprinted it on Amazon as a Kindle single and in ebook format on Smashwords.

 

Mary Shelley is haunted. Haunted beyond cemeteries and tombstones. Love and madness rattle her every day. Scandal and drama steal her sleep. And finally it is the stab of her own impending death that drives her to conjure the dead.

 

Those who have been following this blog and read my supernatural mysteries, you may be familiar with this story as I have posted about it and Mary Shelley a few times. As well, I have several of her short stories in the INDEX above for your reading pleasure.  Beyond Castle Frankenstein is my favorite because it relates factual information about one of our most enduring and talented authors in literature. I felt honored to discover this story in my writing world and present it to so many readers both via Pleasant Storm Entertainment publisher and now as a reprint.

Castle Frankenstein still stands today in Darmstadt, Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As does the Casa Magni in Italy where Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley lived for short period of time.

 

The image below is a shocking portrait of the body of Percy Bysshe Shelley being cremated.

 

Some early reviews of Beyond Castle Frankenstein

“Historical fact and fiction blend in an evocative and atmospheric tale of a romantic triangle, love and jealousy that transcends death, and a haunted protagonist; but is Mary Shelley truly haunted by the shade of her predecessor as Shelley’s wife–or by her own guilt? Using the literary conceit of a “found fiction,” accomplished and award-winning author Cappa skillfully crafts a work as macabre as any of her protagonist’s own creations.  Not to be missed by readers who are Shelley fans; but most readers of supernatural fiction will appreciate this e-story whether they’re Shelley fans or not.” Werner Lind, author of the vampire novella Lifeblood, award-winning short fiction, avid book reviewer, and a librarian with published scholarly articles.

“Paula Cappa’s Beyond Castle Frankenstein is just the kind of supernatural story I most enjoy: A touch of antiquarianism (reminiscent of M.R. James), the involvement of real people and places (presented accurately), imaginative, atmospheric, and with just the right frisson of horror at the end. It is a well-conceived story well told, and a welcome addition to the world of supernatural fiction. I am looking forward to reading more of Paula Cappa’s work.” Andrew M. Seddon, author of What Darkness Remains, In Death Survive, Tales from the Brackenwood Ghost Club.
Did you know that Mary Shelley …
 … Said she made up the name “Frankenstein.” In German, Frankenstein  means Stone of the Franks. Historians report that the Shelleys visited Castle Frankenstein on a journey up the Rhine River.

… Said that she wrote Frankenstein from a waking dream: “I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think.”

“I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideious phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life. … He sleeps; but he is awakened; he opens his eyes; behold, the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains and looking on him with yellow watery, but speculative eyes.” Preface from the London Edition of Frankenstein, 1831.

 Buy on Amazon.com  .99 cents

 

 

On Smashwords.com for ibooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and more

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1028313

 

Journals of Horror: Found Fiction, editor Terry M. West, Pleasant Storm Entertainment, Inc.

 

Thank you to all my readers and followers on this Reading Fiction Blog!

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Book Review, Anatomy of Prose by Sacha Black

June 10, 2020   Book Review and Commentary, the Craft of Writing

 

The craft of writing is an ongoing exploration for me. My post Reviews of Writing Craft Books on this blog has reviews with a long list of the best books on writing and my recommendations. Here is a review of Sacha Black’s newest release Anatomy of Prose, 12 Steps to Sensational Sentences.

 

This book is going to go down as one of the MUST READs for any writer, beginner or seasoned. While John Truby, Ray Bradbury, and Sol Stein are at the top of that list, I will add Sacha Black to the list of Top Ten Books to Read on Novel Writing. She covers everything you need to know, in depth, about writing fiction. I have over 30 writing books on my shelf and they all instruct on how to improve a writer’s prose. Of course, Black goes beyond just the prose, she gives you direction on story structure, pace, characters, emotional intelligence, brilliant show vs. tell insights, and the value of great sentences compared to average sentences. She identifies the literary devices that will make your prose more powerful and memorable. I especially liked her advice on writing descriptive prose.

For new writers, this book will provide a major leap to improving your writing skills. For the seasoned writer (with every novel, we continue to keep learning this craft), Black explores so many fascinating tools and precise techniques that I felt all my writing skills sharpened and crystalized to another level. She does have a potty mouth, which would normally turn me off, but the writing is so endearing, so witty, I didn’t mind at all. Highly recommended.

 

Sacha  Black writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

 

 

 

 

For more book reviews and recommendations on the craft of writing, click HERE.

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Murder Is a Messy Business

I’ll Be Waiting  by Raymond Chandler (1939)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Crime Mystery   May 19, 2020

 

A sexy red-headed lady, foxy hotel detective, and bad boys with guns in the L.A. underworld. You’ll love this sleek little noir with its evocative language by Raymond Chandler.

Here is our femme fatale, Eve Cressy lounging on a sofa listening to the radio:

“She was all curled up with her feet under her on a davenport which seemed to contain most of the cushions in the room. She was tucked among them carefully, like a corsage in the florist’s tissue paper.”

 

Tony Reseck, hotel dick, is a slick guy with a bad history:

“He smiled his toy smile. His quiet sea-gray eyes seemed almost to be smoothing the long waves of her hair.”

The art of description, right? Nobody writes like Raymond Chandler, the way he plays the reader with his sassy style and wit. Every line has a bang to it: richness of texture, intriguing subtext in the dialogue, and  hard prose. I love this writer. I fell in love with his novels The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, Farewell My Lovely when I was researching my mystery Greylock. My main character Alexei Georg had an obsession with Philip Marlowe—and so did I.

 

In today’s short story, we are at the Windemere Hotel in Los Angeles at one a.m. Tony Reseck finds a woman in the Radio Room. Eve Cressy has been waiting for her man for 5 days, stashed inside her hotel room with a balcony. Her man was just let out of prison.  Tonight she ventures out to the lobby to listen to Benny Goodman music. No sunset, no deep kisses, but boy is this story hot. And, there’s $25,000 and others waiting for “her man” too. Murder is a messy business.

“You like Goodman, Miss Cressy?” Reseck asked.

“Not to cry over.  This jitterbug music gives me the backdrop of a beer flat. I like something with roses in it.”

 

 

Read the short story at AE Library:

http://www.ae-lib.org.ua/texts-c/chandler__ill_be_waiting__en.htm

 

Watch the short film, a steamy one directed by Tom Hanks, starring Bruno Kirby, Marg Helgenberger, Dan Hedaya on YouTube: 30 minutes and it’s wonderful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_SonDdkG10

 

 

Raymond Chandler was an American author of detective fiction, the creator of the private detective  Philip Marlowe, characterized as a poor but honest upholder of ideals in an opportunistic and sometimes brutal society in Los Angeles.

“The most durable thing in writing is style.”

 

 

 

 

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 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

 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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A Thin Woman With a White Face

The Lady’s Maid’s Bell   by Edith Wharton (1902)

Tuesday’s Ghost Story,  April 14, 2020

 

Colin Dickey, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places said, “We tell stories of the dead as a way of making a sense of the living … Ghost stories reveal the contours of our anxieties, the nature of our collective fears and desires, the things we can’t talk about in any other way.”  For me ghost stories are the dark whispers and inside those whispers are elements of truth. So, if you love a good ghost story, you’ve come to the right place.

Today’s ghost story, The Lady’s Maid’s Bell  has undertones of personal prisons, infidelity, and jealously. Add a loveless marriage, a spinster maid, and kindred spirits. The Lady’s Maid’s Bell is told by Alice Hartley, a lady’s maid, endearing and charming, who takes a position in the country estate at Brympton Place. Upon arriving on her first day, Alice meets the ghost.

“… a thin woman with a white face, and a dark gown and apron; the woman does not speak.”

The mistress of Brympton Place, Mrs. Brympton, never rings the bell for her new maid Alice. Yet the bell does ring. This story is tense with dark thresholds and doors, and the color red for juicy symbolism. You will find that the impact of the narrative does not just come from the appearances of the ghost, but from the relationships of the characters. This is a puzzle for the reader, fraught with secrets and mysterious events.

 

This was Wharton’s first attempt at a writing a ghost story. Her artistry in this story creates a text that is like a warning flash for women of her day, failed marriages, and society’s complacency of the times. A wonderful spooky little yarn that you will not be able to stop reading until Alice Hartley brings you to the very end.

Edith Wharton became a published writer at age 16.  She published her first novel at the age of 40 in 1902, a non-fiction work, The Decoration of Houses. Her breakthrough came in 1905 with The House of Mirth, then Ethan Frome in 1911 and The Age of Innocence in 1920, which won her the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Read the short story here at Online-Literature

http://www.online-literature.com/wharton/2920/

Listen to the audio here on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX__-esn_28

 

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 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

 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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ParABnormal Magazine Publishes “Wild Darkness”

Wild Darkness by Paula Cappa

March 24, 2020

Why do we read short stories?  Because we can explore a variety of different authors and  experience a wide range of genres without the full-time commitment of a novel. Short fiction is a way to bring back daily or weekly reading time in small bites of pleasure. And with flash fiction, you can read a full story in the time it takes to eat your lunch. This blog has been devoted to short fiction for over seven years with over 250 stories by over 100 contemporary and classic authors.

Today I am proud to announce that ParABnormal Magazine has published my short fiction Wild Darkness.

Here’s a peek …

The ghost beneath the hickory trees is a women. She appears as a shivering presence among the leaves drowning in the summer sun. Her name is Falling Water.

Why do we love ghost stories? I read them because there is usually a truth creeping inside the story, an other-worldly element that suggests we are more than what we see or hear.  Or maybe because ghost stories cannot be absolutely proven and who doesn’t love a mystery? Or, maybe ghosts have something important to tell us.

Come meet Falling Water at Hickory House in the deep woods.

 

From Editor H. Blalock,  ParAbnormal Magazine

“The world is filled with strange and wondrous things; things beyond explanation, beyond imagination. Step into the world of the strange, the mystic, and the Beyond in parABnormal Magazine and find that which shouldn’t exist, but lurks just outside of that we can see.

“As the editor of the magazine, I believe it contains work from some of the most talented writers and artists. I recommend their work to anyone interested in paranormal fiction, non-fiction, and art.”

You can purchase a copy of ParAbnormal Magazine on Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/parABnormal-March-2020-David-Blalock/dp/1951384253

 

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 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

 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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Becoming a Woman

March 10, 2020

Girl by Jamaica Kincaid (1978)

Let’s go video today.  Girl by Jamaica Kincaid is an unusual story with two characters in a conversation, a mother and a daughter. While most moms are ready and able to give their daughters advice about becoming a woman, this mother in the story focuses on the practical side of life. And then some. The ending has a zinger, and I dare you not to smile. Listen to the author read her story here at Chicago Humanities Festival. This is a 5-minute story (flash fiction at its finest), extraordinary writing, with a theme that is meaty for debate. I loved it!

 

 

 

The short story is available at The New Yorker but not all can access it online as a free read:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1978/06/26/girl

Jamaica Kincaid is an Antiguan-American novelist, essayist, gardener. Born in St John’s, Antigua, she lives in North Bennington, Vermont during the summers and is Professor of African and African American Studies in Residence at Harvard University during the academic year. At the Bottom of the River was her first collection of short stories and reflections. Her novels See Now Then (2013) chronicles the late-life dissolution of a marriage by way of the jilted wife’s acerbic ruminations.

If you have any thoughts or comments about this story, do post your opinion.

 

 

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 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

 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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Read an E-Book Week, March 2 to March 7, 2020

March 2, 2020

If you are reading this post, you are fond of books and love to spend your time reading. This is National Read an E-Book Week, an annual celebration of reading e-books. Thousands of readers and authors join this literary event to load up their Kindles, download ebooks from their local library, and support reading events, friends, authors, storytellers, and indie publishers.

All my short stories at the right margin are in ebook format,  free on Amazon for Kindle, on Smashwords (Apple ibooks, Kobo, and more).

Between the Darkness and the Dawn   Does the ghost of Nathaniel Hawthorne stalk the front parlor of the Old Manse in Concord, Massachusetts? Historical ghost story.

 Magic of the Loons   What mysteries can you imagine reside in loon magic? Jackson has a secret rendezvous with Kai, his Loon Woman. A short story of passion, mystery, and the power of love.

 The Haunting of Jezebeth   When Deborah goes home to her family farm house by the Dunwich River, she confronts ghostly powers who demand her surrender. Witchcraft is not the only power.

Hildie at the Ghost ShorHildie the lace maker, Mistress of Runecraft, knows the secret spells of the runes from the wind-god Odin in a land of Loki the trickster and flame-eyed ravens. Who will survive beyond the ghost shore? Historical fiction.

I have four more stories published in magazines that will be available in ebook format this year. Coming soon!

 

Where is your most comfortable place to read? In bed? Cozy chair? Park bench? Coffee shop? Mine is at the kitchen table in the mornings and also to snuggle into my sofa at night.

 

Got a favorite quote? Please post in the comments.

 

Happy Reading to All!

 

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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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Happy New Year, 2020, Let’s Read! Becoming Supernatural

Happy New Year, 2020!

What is your passion? Mine is books, reading, writing, discovering new authors and new stories. And, to dive into the imagination of good fiction.

 

 

Author Charles Lamb said that “books think for me.”

If you are an avid reader, you’ll likely find books that prove this true.

 

 

 

 

 

Goethe believed that “every reader reads himself into the book and amalgamates his thoughts with those of the author.”  Sometimes, yes, I can agree with that.

 

 

 

 

 

You might like what Emerson thought about reading:

“One must be an inventor to read well.”

This is absolutely true if you read fiction.

 

 

Fiction is not just amusement to disengage us from ourselves for a short escape. Reading fiction can illuminate life experiences. We all need to clarify the life’s mysteries and challenges in a dramatic way. Sometimes fiction can be transcendent. If you delight in the study of human nature and all the relationships, you will delight in the reading of novels, mysteries, literary, fantasy, and detective fiction at the top of your list.

This is one of the reasons I love to read and write about the supernatural—to enter that world beyond our mortal and earthly limits.  There is a wisdom in the supernatural that is not sourced from human intelligence or science.  The supernatural has magical realities, spiritual forces, and even mystical religion can bring us beyond our earthly limits.  How is it that the presence of a vase of bright flowers can bring a moment of beauty in just a glance? Why does a sunset streaking gold and purple create a feelings of awe and warmth?  At dawn, a hot pink sunrise is powerful to draw us to the window to encourage our day ahead. Conversely, have you ever seen a shapely fog arise to streak through the streets, and for some reason you can’t take your eyes off the path it’s making? Or a bird land at your feet and look at you for the longest moment as if it’s speaking to you. Little hauntings like these happen all the time. Why? Because we are instinctively drawn to the supernatural, to the language of the heart and soul, to the mysteries, secrets, and messages. So, let’s read the supernatural.

Here are a few classic supernatural novels you might want to read:

The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) by Anne Radcliffe. The quintessential Gothic romance.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson. Split personalities, science gone wrong, an inquisitive friend, and a trampled young woman.

Frankenstein; Or, The ModernPrometheus (1818) by Mary Shelley. This is the standard for the Romantic genre in science fiction.

The Shining by Stephen King. A classic winter ghost story that chills us from the other side.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. This timeless haunted house story will bring you into the world of spirits and desire.

Ghost Stories by M.R. James. One of the best writers of ghost stories in our literature.

The Woman in Black, a Ghost Story by Susan Hill. A chilling tale about a menacing spectre haunting a small English town.

If I may, I’d like to remind readers and followers here at Reading Fiction Blog of my own supernatural mysteries:

The Dazzling Darkness. A haunted cemetery, a little boy missing, and the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson in Concord, Massachusetts. Discover the dazzling faces inside the darkened air of Old Willow Cemetery. BRONZE MEDAL WINNER, Readers’ Favorite International Book Award, 2014.

Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural. A firehawk invades the dreams of artist Kip Livingston on Horn Island, where she finds romance with a priest struggling with his own demons. An Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner, 2015.

Greylock. Do you believe in music phantoms? Composer Alexei Georg is haunted by a music phantom who pursues him from Boston, to Russia, to Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts. Classical music, whale songs, and the mysterious power of  nature make this a “romance-laced mystery with unexpected twists and turns.” U.S. Review of Books. Chanticleer Book Award Winner 2015 and a Best Book Award Finalist 2017, American Book Fest. 

You can click on the tabs above for more information on each title (reviews too) or click the book covers in the right column on this page to  link to Amazon.com.

Many here know I have had several short stories published in literary magazines and journals over the years. These shorts are also available in the right column book covers, on this page, linked to Amazon.com. I will have four more short stories to come on Amazon in 2020.

Meantime, thank you all for reading my blog, commenting, and clicking LIKE. I hope you will continue to be a friend here at Reading Fiction Blog and keep this page as one of your literary hubs.

I will leave you with the thoughts of poet Rainer Maria Rilke (who is the subject in my next supernatural mystery that I am writing now. More on this in 2020!)

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I wish you all a happy and successful 2020 and many reading adventures.

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Ye Olde Christmas Grace

Old Christmas by Washington Irving (1875)

Tuesday’s Tale for Christmas,  December 10, 2019

Well done, Mr. Irving! If you are looking for a mite of wisdom and the blessings from old-time Christmas  to spark your holiday spirits, Washington Irving’s Old Christmas is a charming read that will warm you from your nightcap to your jingle toes.

 

Old Christmas is a series of short stories about a young man who travels to a companion’s family mansion, The Bracebridges. Our narrator describes the mansion as “thrown in deep shadow and partly lit up by the cold moonshine … heavy stone-shafted bow windows jutting out and overrun with ivy, from among the foliage of which the small diamond-shaped panes of glass glittered with the moonbeams. The grounds about the house were laid out in the old formal manner of artificial flower-beds, clipped shrubberies, raised terraces, and heavy stone balustrades, ornamented with urns, a leaden statue or two, and a jet of water.”

Can you see this setting? Of course you can. Irving was an American original in his prose style of lighthearted but dramatic, exemplifying the writing style of the Romantic era. He set the bar quite high for all short story writers.

[Frontispiece of Old Christmas]

 

We begin with an beautiful introduction of Christmas, and then in Yorkshire, we take The Stage Coach ride with our narrator. If you’ve ever wondered what it is like is to go bumping along in horse-laded coach, this ride is a witty jaunt through village and countryside.

The third story is Christmas Eve. Voluptuous fires in the hearth, friendly neighbors, snowy sky, plums and spice, sweets and cider. There is a harmony going on this Eve.

“The family meeting was warm and affectionate … old uncles and aunts, comfortably married dames, superannuated spinsters, blooming country cousins, half-fledged striplings, and bright-eyed boarding-school hoydens fully engrossed by a merry game; and a profusion of wooden horses, penny trumpets, and tattered dolls, about the floor, showed traces of a troop of little fairy beings, who, having frolicked through a happy day, had been carried off to slumber through a peaceful night.”

They feasted on wheat cakes and mince pies, danced to harp and violin and even recited poetry—”Night-Piece to Julia”—when not admiring the romance of the young women in long lace dresses.

Christmas Day opens with “When I awoke the next morning, it seemed as if all the events of the preceding evening had been a dream, and nothing but the identity of the ancient chamber convinced me of their reality. While I lay musing on my pillow, I heard the sound of little feet pattering outside of the door, and a whispering consultation. Presently a choir of small voices chanted forth an old Christmas carol.”

At Christmas Dinner “The dinner was served up in the great hall, where the Squire always held his Christmas banquet. A blazing, crackling fire of logs had been heaped on to warm the spacious apartment, and the flame went sparkling and wreathing up the wide-mouthed chimney.”

 

And at Christmas day’s finish our narrator discovers what is likely the true benevolence of this celebration: “I was in a continual excitement, from the varied scenes of whim and innocent gaiety passing before me. It was inspiring to see wild-eyed frolic and warm-hearted hospitality breaking out from among the chills and glooms of winter, and old age throwing off his apathy, and catching once more the freshness of youthful enjoyment.”

 

In our modern fashionable Christmases, we desire to break out from the chilly glooms of winter. We need to throw off the apathy of old age. We long to awaken, to catch at least one day fresh with youth to become wild-eyed and warm to our family and friends. In these stories Irving captures not only the beauty and community of olde Christmas cheer, but also the Christmas Grace of  sharing human love, kindness, and generosity.

 

Wishing you all the sacred joys of Christmas!

 

 

Read all five short stories here at Gutenberg.org:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1850/1850-h/1850-h.htm

Famed 19th century American author, Washington Irving is known for his biographical works (most famous the five-volume Life of George Washington), stories  Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Considered to be the first true American writer, Irving fought for stronger laws to protect writers from copyright infringement.

 

 

 

This book would make a lovely Christmas gift! Find it on Amazon. This edition has some of the sketches you see here on this blog. https://www.amazon.com/OLD-CHRISTMAS-Washington-Illustrated-Stage-Coach/dp/170749696X

 

 

 

 

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PEACE TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT.

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