Category Archives: mysteries

Diagnosis of Death: Ambrose Bierce’s Cryptic Adventure

The Diagnosis of Death  by Ambrose Bierce  (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 10, 2017  READING FICTION BLOG

From a scientific perspective, ghosts are considered to be possible manifestations of electromagnetic energies of human consciousness. We all have consciousness; nobody doubts that. So any kind of ghost story attracts me because I’m always looking to verify that our consciousness exists after death and therefore ghosts are a reality. The supernatural is both real and fictional to me and probably why most of my own writings deal with the reality of ghosts and the mysterious world beyond. Life after death has endless possibilities to explore. When writing my novels or short stories,  I find the research to be the most thrilling part: for example I discovered there are ghosts in music when writing my novel Greylock.

Some physicists believe that consciousness exists in a quantum state after the body dies. The 6-minute video below, Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death: Physicists Claim is a fascinating presentation from prominent physics researchers at such institutions such as Cambridge University and Princeton University.

https://youtu.be/7AAcYDXYwdc ]

 

While proof of ghosts is debatable (most agree that science and physics cannot account for everything in our universe), in fiction we can cross the scientific line, dismiss all the debates, and slip into our human imagination and just believe.

 

 

 

The Diagnosis of Death

Our narrator, Hawver, tells us a story of his visit while renting Dr. Mannering’s  vacant summer house in Meridian.  Dr. Mannering was known to be skilled in precisely forecasting a person’s death. An odd skill and maybe a gifted one. Come with Hawver and spend the night in Dr. Mannering’s study, where a life-size portrait of Dr. Mannering does the haunting. You might not believe in ghosts like Hawver, then again, you might consider this story to be a treasure that adventures into the realm of the unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read the short story online at TheLiteratureNetwork.

Listen to the 10-minute audio The Diagnosis of Death, narrated by Otis Jiry on  YOUTube.com .

 

 

 

 

 

Nicknamed Bitter Bierce, Ambrose Bierce authored over 90 short stories, fifty in supernatural.  He is remembered for making the human psyche the ultimate source of horror. One of his most famous works is The Devil’s Dictionary. Interestingly, most of his fiction gained popularity after his death. He disappeared in the Mexican wilderness in 1913. The fate of his body is unknown to historians. Visit the Ambrose Bierce Project for resources and more. Visit the Ambrose Bierce official website.

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, paranormal, pulp fiction, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural fiction

Frequenter of Graveyards: Skulls

Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls by Loren Eiseley  (Original title People Leave Skulls With Me, 1951)

Tuesday’s Tale of Mystery  August 29, 2017

Are you fascinated by skulls? Some people believe skulls are Nature’s sculptures. Or maybe, speaking philosophically,  life’s true face is a bony skull. I am drawn to crystal skulls and have  a lovely pink one on my writing desk (an inspiration for writing my novel The Dazzling Darkness, which features a crystal skull).

These days we can read a lot about crystal skulls being a doorway to deeper understanding about ourselves and our planet. The  famous crystal skull named Sha Na Ra  (or known as Max) is one of the few crystal skulls in the world that has been scientifically examined and proven to be truly ancient. Skeptics abound, of course. But just taking the idea of skulls—human or crystal—we have an abundance of facts and fiction that continue to attract readers and stir our imagination as more than just art.

 Max

Today we have a story about a human skull, a subtle haunting, and a collector in Loren Eiseley’s Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls. Come meet Uncle Tobias and the brown skull.  Eiseley takes us on a personal visit.

“I could see Uncle Tobias’s long-hidden relic staring back vacantly at me through the glass door of the cabinet. It would never tell its secret, but it had one. It had a secret and so had Uncle Tobias.  And I? Perhaps I was a keeper of secrets.”

 

 

 

 

Author Loren Eiseley was an American anthropologist, educator, philosopher, and natural science writer, who taught and published books during the 1950s to 1970s. His scientific and nature writings are contemplative with a poetic style.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Barbed Wire and Brown Skulls at Story of the Week, scroll down to PDF or GoogleDoc for full read:  http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2017/08/barbed-wire-and-brown-skulls.html 

Here’s a quick peek into the mind and philosophy of  Loren Eiseley: The Star Thrower.

The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”

 

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under crystal skull, fiction, ghost story blogs, Hauntings, horror blogs, mysteries, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, skulls, The Dazzling Darkness

Book Review: The History of Murder by Colin Wilson

Colin Wilson’s The History of Murder (nonfiction)

It has been said that man is the most violent creature on earth.

Read this book and you’ll be convinced this thought is true.  Wilson writes a history of homicide, covering a couple thousand years—quite a literary achievement. And he does so in very thoughtful ways. I read this book because I am a writer of mystery fiction; murder, death, ghosts, humanity are all part of my stories and exploration. If you study murder or are curious about the psychology of violence (or like to read about the dark side of life) this is one to add to your list. At over 600 pages and two inches thick, this is like an encyclopedia, but Wilson makes it more personal and sometimes philosophical. He explores why man is a killer. Wilson begins with Ivan the Terrible, Nero, Vlad the Impaler and the spectacular sadist Tamerlane. Lots of details that were a bit disturbing for me, especially Countess Elizabeth Bathory who enjoyed soaking in bathtubs filled with the human blood of young murdered girls. Moving on to Murder Elizabethan Style with a poisoned crucifix, disembowelments, castrations, beheadings, Jack the Ripper, British murders, sex crimes and serial killers. A lot to handle. Best way to read this is in small bites. I like Wilson’s narrative style and will likely read some of his fiction titles. At the end, Wilson says “in spite of three thousand years of cruelty and slaughter, there is still hope for the human race.” Read this book and you’ll know why.

 

 

 

Read all my book reviews on Amazon.com on my Paula Cappa Reviews page: https://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A1O7TTTF8K1E1L

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, ghost story blogs, horror blogs, literature, murder mystery, mysteries, short story blogs

Witch Hunt, Shirley Jackson Style

The Witch  by Shirley Jackson

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   August 8, 2017

Everyday evil. Shirley Jackson is a master at the subtleties of normal life streaming with little horrors. Most of us know Jackson’s most famous The Lottery (which she reportedly wrote in one morning) and The Haunting of Hill House.  In this 14-minute read of The Witch, the story opens with a little boy and his mom on a train. There is a little sister too. All cozy, right? Enter the witch, and this one is far from the old crone  you’d expect.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story here at jlax.wikispaces.com.

 

Listen to the  11-minute audio here at YouTube.com

 

 

 

“Shirley Jackson is the master of the haunted tale . . .   Everything this author wrote . . . has in it the dignity and plausibility of myth . . .  Shirley Jackson knew better than any writer since Hawthorne the value of haunted things.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Leaves no doubt as to Miss Jackson’s craftsmanship and power . . . utterly convincing detail that breaks down the reader’s disbelief.”
Saturday Review

 

I also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a novella, twisty and suspenseful tale. Book review on Amazon.com.

 

Do you love to read book reviews? I have about 100 book reviews on Amazon.com at Paula Cappa Reviews. Please stop by and take a quick read and click into the book title to read full review. I’d love it if you answer YES ‘if this review was helpful to you’:  PAULA CAPPA REVIEWS ON AMAZON.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, 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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, mysteries, occult, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, witches, Women In Horror

A Horrible Grey Loneliness: The Little Ghost

The Little Ghost by Hugh Walpole (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 25, 2017

 

 

Death is an amazing adventure, yes? If you’ve ever lost a loved one, dear friend or relative, you know that “horrible grey loneliness” that can haunt you in the most subtle of ways. Our narrator has a ghost story to tell you. He is a journalist, happily married with two children and living in Wimbledon. When his greatest friend Charlie Bond, a  man with a charming personality, dies suddenly, the reality hits hard. Missing Charlie in his life becomes a pervasive ache for our narrator, and he escapes for a short holiday to the seaside. Sometimes when you fight a memory, the strangest things can happen. Like when you think you are alone in a room—but are not alone at all.

 

Read The Little Ghost at Gutenberg.net . Scroll down to click the title.

 

This short story was published in the collection  All Souls’ Night.  Sir Hugh Walpole was a best-selling British novelist. He published  36 novels and 6 volumes of short stories.  Virginia Woolf praised his writing: “It is no disparagement to a writer to say that his gift is for the small things rather than for the larger. If you are faithful with the details the large effects will grow inevitably out of those very details.”

Joseph Conrad said of him, “We see Mr. Walpole grappling with the truth of things spiritual and material with his characteristic earnestness, and we can discern the characteristics of this acute and sympathetic explorer of human nature.”

You might also like The Silver Mask or the vampire narrative Tarnhelm, included in All Souls’ Night. 

 

 

Hugh Walpole Portrait, by Stephen Bone, oil on canvas.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, 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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Hauntings, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural fiction, tales of terror

The Ghost of Jane Austen Walks Here on the Bicentennial of Her Death

Reading Jane Austen on the Bicentennial of Her Death

Tuesday’s Tale    July 18, 2017

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on July 18, 1817. She died at the age of 41, and the cause is still a mystery. An ongoing debate ranges from arsenic poisoning to Addison’s disease to tuberculosis to lymphoma to the far-flung idea of murder.

Because I feature fiction by so many dead authors here at Reading Fiction Blog on Tuesday’s Tale, it seems appropriate for readers here who follow this blog, or drop in regularly, that we take a moment to honor the ghostly presence of this most beloved author. If this blog is about anything at all, it’s about  famous past authors we still love to read. I am often haunted by dead authors; my goal has always been to resurrect dead authors’ works, call these ghosts back into our lives, and once again dive into their imaginary worlds by reading and rereading their works. But Jane Austen needs no resurrection. She is still widely read and admired as one of our greatest novelists.

Jane Austen (born 1775) remains an enduring author, and so many generations appreciate the compelling style and substance of her six novels. Her characters are fully human, living in the everyday world and struggling on to survive.  Did you know Austen wrote short stories? These titles, Lady Susan; Love & Friendship; Jack and Alice; The Three Sisters; Lesley Castle; The Watsons; Sandition; The Beautiful Cassandra; Amelia Webster; The Visit; Evelyn, are her earlier works. None is available in the public domain but for 99 cents you can download them to your Kindle via Amazon.

 

In Pride and Prejudice, here’s a peak at Georgian life from Austen’s perspective (6-minute video).

 

 

More At Home With Jane Austen at Chawton Cottage: This short video below (8 minutes) shows the Jane Austen House Museum in the village of Chawton, in Hampshire, where Jane lived for the final eight years of her short life.

 

 

Our lives go on here after we are dead through a variety of ways. Ghosts remain here like blurry photographs, shadows releasing breathy moments. Jane Austen is a lovely ghost among us. Can you hear her footsteps? What an apparition she  is in her little bonnet. Her words live on; the sound of her voice rings clearly.

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” 

I encourage you to reread one of her novels, watch the films, or spend some time with her short stories. I recommend Northanger Abbey, published after her death,  a satire on the Gothic novel.  What if  you were to live your life as if inside a Gothic novel? Of course, there is a castle, a locked room, and mysteries at every turn. Catherine Morland is a charming protagonist, spending time in the English society of Bath where illusion and reality, haunted ruins, friendship—and romance—become compelling storytelling with the flavors of dark humor. At about 200 pages, this short novel is an ideal read for a summer’s afternoon, swinging in a hammock beneath sun-dappled trees, or lounging beach-side with the splash and hiss of waves for background music.

You can read Northanger Abbey  on Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/121

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Listen to the full audio of Northanger Abbey here at YouTube.com.

 

Watch the FILM here at YouTube.com:

 

Jane Austen Banknote Unveiled, The Guardian.

Read The New York Times’ “Jane Austen Wasn’t Shy” here.    Visit Jane Austen’s Blog here. 


 

Jane Austen’s Grave at Winchester Cathedral

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Reading Fiction Tales. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, 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

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic fiction, Gothic Horror, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs

Twisty Tale on Island of Nethescurial

Nethescurial  by Thomas Ligotti  (1991)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    March 21, 2017

 

Are you in need of reading a wild yarn? The real and the unreal, swirling freely and madly about. Take a ride into darkness. Be brave. If any author can satisfy these desires, it’s Thomas Ligotti. Some critics say that Ligotti’s work requires re-reading. I can attest that my second read of this tale dug deeper and I enjoyed it all the more. Some might prefer to read this as non-literal. One thing I can promise is that Nethescurial will hold you to the spot. Maybe it all psychosis (no explicit violence) but it’s undoubtedly a jolt to the consciousness with lots of philosophy. The emotional effect is shock. The psychological impact, mesmerizing. You will be unnerved in full Ligotti style.

The story is framed from four narratives: the ancient cult of the Nethescurial; Dr. N.; Bartholomew Gray; and the narrator.

Here is the lonely island of Nethescurial in the northern hemisphere.

contorted rock formations; pointed pines and spruces of gigantic stature and uncanny movements; the masklike countenance of sea-faring cliffs; and a sickly, stagnant fog clinging to the landscape like a fungus.

Our narrator is recounting a story (epistolary writing) of a manuscript he found that was written by a Mr. Bartholomew Gray during his visit to Dr. N, an archeologist who was living on the island. Dr. N lived in a primitive house built of leprous stones and no windows. Dr. N has excavated a buried treasure on the island—a piece of a dismembered hand-carved religious idol from the Nethescurials.

Gray’s goal is to reassemble the idol to wholeness and revive its powers. Only one more piece is needed. And Dr. N possesses the last piece. Ancient cults (Lovecraftian style), dark truths, murder, visionary intrusions, a secret door, apocalyptic, a dash of madness, this story is twisty horror. Do you believe in transcendent evil?

Remember this chant:

In the rooms of houses . . . across moonlit skies . . . inside each star and the voids between them … within blood and bone, through all souls and spirits. . . behind the faces of the living and the dead …

 

 

I  normally don’t rate my featured short stories here, but this cosmic adventure is a 5-star literary achievement.

Click to read the short story at Ligotti.net.

Click to listen to the audio at YouTube.

 

 

Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American author. He writes “philosophical horror” with nihilistic themes. His works have received high praise from NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and The New Yorker.

Visit The Thomas Ligotti website. 

Interview with Ligotti at TeemingBrain.com “I Was Born to Fear.”

The Horror of the Unreal. The New Yorker.

  

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of 200 short stories by over 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, crime, ghost stories, sci-fi, and horror.

Follow me in reading  two short stories every month!

Comments are welcome.

 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 The Kill Zone

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

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

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

Dawson’s Book Marketing site: http://www.selfpublishingformula.com/

Greylock

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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales