Category Archives: Penny Dreadful

Haunts of Halloween

Haunts of Halloween

October 31, 2016

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Let’s go poetry. There are stories in poems, images and insights, song and emotion … and other worlds. Let your mind play with the patterns and sink into the symbolism. Be illuminated this Halloween!

 

The Ghost House by Robert Frost (1906)

Gloomy, dark, mysterious, and beautifully vague.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WK92957YzI

Read it below or here online: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/ghost-house

 

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I dwell in a lonely house I know

That vanished many a summer ago,

And left no trace but the cellar walls,

And a cellar in which the daylight falls

And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

 

O’er ruined fences the grape-vines shield

The woods come back to the mowing field;

The orchard tree has grown one copse

Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;

The footpath down to the well is healed.

 

I dwell with a strangely aching heart

In that vanished abode there far apart

On that disused and forgotten road

That has no dust-bath now for the toad.

Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

 

The whippoorwill is coming to shout

And hush and cluck and flutter about:

I hear him begin far enough away

Full many a time to say his say

Before he arrives to say it out.

 

It is under the small, dim, summer star.

I know not who these mute folk are

Who share the unlit place with me—

Those stones out under the low-limbed tree

Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

 

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad—

Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—

With none among them that ever sings,

And yet, in view of how many things,

As sweet companions as might be had.

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Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1858)

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All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

 

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

 

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

 

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

 

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates

From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

 

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.

 

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires;

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

 

These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,

Come from the influence of an unseen star

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

 

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,

Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,—

 

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

 

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“And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                Shall be lifted- nevermore!”

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

 HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

 

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Filed under Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Halloween, Halloween stories, horror, horror blogs, mysteries, paranormal, Penny Dreadful, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror

Why Do We Love Horror?

In the words of Arthur Conan Doyle ( and as a companion post with this week’s featured author, 1-5-2016 Tales of Terror, “The Horror of the Heights”),

“Where there is no imagination, there is no horror.”

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So, let’s see now, why do we love to read horror stories and terrifying suspense mysteries? Why do we watch horror movies? Is it to stimulate our imaginations? Is it because some of us love gore-watching or identifying with killers? Or maybe it’s because we like to face the unknown safely in our reading chairs or comfy movie theater seats. As an avid reader, film lover, and writer of supernatural, mystery, and horror, I ask these questions all the time.

 

Below is a link to  FilmmakerIQ.com John P. Hess’ 15-minute vimeo on this very subject.  Hess explores the “Psychology of Scary Movies” theories from contemporary scientific professionals to Freud, Jung, Aristotle and much more. When I came across this vimeo some time ago, I found it  informative and insightful. I hope you do too.

 


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/77636515″>The Psychology of Scary Movies</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/filmmakeriq”>FilmmakerIQ.com</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

We could say there is no single answer to the question, but if you have a theory, agreement or disagreement, please post.

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Filed under classic horror stories, crime thrillers, fiction, Halloween stories, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, murder mystery, mysteries, Penny Dreadful, Psycho, psychological horror, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, Stephen King, supernatural, supernatural thrillers, suspense, tales of terror, weird tales

Night Sea Journey, 99 cents, November

Last weekend (November 6, 7, 8, 2015) for this sale at 99 cents for Night Sea Journey. This supernatural mystery recently hit the Amazon best seller list for 4 days in occult and supernatural genres.  After winning an Eric Hoffer Book Award this year, Night Sea Journey has connected to readers who love to explore fiction about the mysteries of the subconscious mind, art, and spirituality … and a firehawk.

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U.S. Review of Books “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with—if not better than—a Dan Brown novel. Truly an outstanding read, Night Sea Journey is one book that is hard to put down!”

ERIC HOFFER BOOK AWARD, 2015. “This romantic fantasy is propelled by gorgeous language and imagery…angels and demons…The grime of inner city Chicago, the tranquility of the Rhode Island coastline, and the depths of a phantasmagoric ocean are the stages for this conflict.”

SAN FRANCISCO BOOK REVIEW ★★★★★ posts “NIGHT SEA JOURNEY is like reading a Dan Brown book with a wicked twist: it has real demons. Readers will be taken on a continual thrill ride, impossible to put down, a fast-paced thriller.”

READERS’ FAVORITE REVIEWS ★★★★★ “Marvelous, atmospheric and, oh, so very, very good. Profound, vibrant, and intensely moving. Highly recommended. Brava!”

★★★★★ Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer Gives 5 STARS. “A talent that will draw even those who are not keen on supernatural stories into her fold.”

 

Come meet Kip Livingston’s firehawk  …

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Trade Paperback Published by Crispin Books

Buy the eb00k     $2.99

Buy the trade paperback  $16.95

Amazon.com

Amazon UK 

Barnes & Noble.com

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Filed under dark fantasy, demons, fiction, haunted mind, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Night Sea Journey, occult, Penny Dreadful, quiet horror, short story blogs

Penny Dreadful Stories, Read ‘em Here!

Penny Dreadful, Read ’em Here (1830s — 1900s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    July 1, 2014

 

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Imagine you are in Victorian England. While you cannot afford to buy one of Charles Dickens’ stories at twelve shillings, you can afford to buy a Penny Dreadful (also known as “bloods” or “shilling shockers”) for one penny and dive into the scintillating stories of vampires, wehr-wolves, pirates, robbers, Roman gladiators, Highwaymen, Goths, and so much more.

At the time, the readers of Penny Dreadfuls were the semi-literate, working class British. The stories were written by hack writers (bad writing is not a crime so let’s keep an open mind) who were paid a penny a line for their—what was considered ‘vulgar’—stories. The readers at the time were mostly young adults, and far more male readers than females. Today, statistics say that males account for only 20% of the fiction readers.

Varneyp1Probably one of the most enticing parts of these stories were the lurid illustrations (woodcuts). Don’t we all have a taste for the visually sensational? And don’t we rely on literature to satisfy our needs for melodrama and murder?fVarney7a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today we have Penny Dreadful, the current TV-series on ShowTime, created by screenwriter John Logan. If you are looking for a throttling psychosexual horror drama, this will fulfill (see it “On Demand”). We have the beautiful vampire huntress Vanessa Ives, a sharpshooter Josh Harnett, African explorer and vampire hunter Sir Malcolm Murray, a prostitute dying of consumption Brona Croft, Frankenstein (and his monster), and Dorian Grey. This drama is for adults, and it’s far from any kind of  hack writing. It is profoundly well written, rich in story, and a stunning interweaving of compelling characters. Thrills and chills for sure!

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But, if you want to experience the original Penny Dreadful from Victorian England, I’ve found four stories online for your blood-thirsty pleasures: Varney the Vampire; The Mysteries of London; String of Pearls (A Romance) The Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Wagner the Wehr-Wolf. These are not short stories but more novella length, and were presented in the Penny Dreadful editions as a weekly or monthly series. I’ve included a paragraph of text for you to get a flavor of the writing.

 

Varney the Vampire by Thomas Preskett Prest

200px-Varney_the_VampireThe solemn tones of an old cathedral clock have announced midnight—the air is thick and heavy—a strange, death like stillness pervades all nature. Like the ominous calm which precedes some more than usually terrific outbreak of the elements, they seem to have paused even in their ordinary fluctuations, to gather a terrific strength for the great effort. A faint peal of thunder now comes from far off. Like a signal gun for the battle of the winds to begin, it appeared to awaken them from their lethargy, and one awful, warring hurricane swept over a whole city, producing more devastation in the four or five minutes it lasted, than would a half century of ordinary phenomena.

Read Varney the Vampire at Gutenberg.org

Listen to audio version at Librivox.org  (read in a lovely English accent)

 

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The Mysteries of London by George W.M. Reynolds

MyseriesofLondonprologueCrime is abundant in this city: the lazar-house, the prison, the brothel, and the dark alley, are rife with all kinds of enormity; in the same way as the palace, the mansion, the club-house, the parliament, and the parsonage, are each and all characterised by their different degrees and shades of vice. But wherefore specify crime and vice by their real names, since in this city of which we speak they are absorbed in the multi-significant words – WEALTH and POVERTY … From this city of strange contrasts branch off two roads, leading to two points totally distinct the one from the other. One winds its tortuous way through all the noisome dens of crime, chicanery, dissipation, and voluptuousness: the other meanders amidst rugged rocks and wearisome acclivities, it is true, but on the wayside are the resting-places of rectitude and virtue.
    Along those roads two youths are journeying. They have started from the same point; but one pursues the former path, and the other the latter. Both come from the city of fearful contrasts; and both follow the wheels of fortune in different directions. Where is that city of fearful contrasts? – Who are those youths that have thus entered upon paths so opposite the one to the other? And to what destinies do those separate roads conduct them?

.Read Mysteries of London at VictorianLondon.org

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String of Pearls (A Romance), The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

images-3“Before Fleet-street had reached its present importance, and when George the Third was young, and the two figures who used to strike the chimes at old St Dunstan’s church were in all their glory – being a great impediment to errand-boys on their progress, and a matter of gaping curiosity to country people – there stood close to the sacred edifice a small barber’s shop, which was kept by a man of the name of Sweeney Todd).  How it was that he came by the name of Sweeney, as a Christian appellation, we are at a loss to conceive, but such was his name, as might be seen in extremely corpulent yellow letters over his shop window, by anyone who chose there to look for it. Barbers by that time in Fleet-street had not become fashionable, and no more dreamt of calling themselves artists than of taking the Tower by storm; moreover they were not, as they are now, constantly slaughtering fine fat bears, and yet somehow people had hair on their heads just the same as they have at present, without the aid of that unctuous auxiliary. Moreover Sweeney Todd, in common with his brethren in those really primitive sorts of times, did not think it at all necessary to have any waxen effigies of humanity in his window. There was no languishing young lady looking over the left shoulder in order that a profusion of auburn tresses might repose upon her lily neck, and great conquerors and great statesmen were not then, as they are now, held up to public ridicule with dabs of rouge upon their cheeks, a quantity of gunpowder scattered in for a beard, and some bristles sticking on end for eyebrows.
     No. Sweeney Todd was a barber of the old school, and he never thought of glorifying himself on account of any extraneous circumstance. If he had lived in Henry the Eighth’s palace, it would have been all the same to him as Henry the Eighth’s dog-kennel, and he would scarcely have believed human nature to be so green as to pay an extra sixpence to be shaven and shorn in any particular locality.
     A long pole painted white, with a red stripe curling spirally round it, projected into the street from his doorway, and on one of the panes of glass in his window was presented the following couplet: Easy shaving for a penny, As good as you will find any.”

Read String of Pearls (Demon Barber) at VictorianLondon.org

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Wagner, the Wehr-Wolf George W.M. Reynolds

Wagner the Wehr-WolfIt was the month of January, 1516. The night was dark and tempestuous; the thunder growled around; the lightning flashed at short intervals: and the wind swept furiously along in sudden and fitful gusts. The streams of the great Black Forest of Germany babbled in playful melody no more, but rushed on with deafening din, mingling their torrent roar with the wild creaking of the huge oaks, the rustling of the firs, the howling of the affrighted wolves, and the hollow voices of the storm. The dense black clouds were driving restlessly athwart the sky; and when the vivid lightning gleamed forth with rapid and eccentric glare, it seemed as if the dark jaws of some hideous monster, floating high above, opened to vomit flame.

And as the abrupt but furious gusts of wind swept through the forest, they raised strange echoes—as if the impervious mazes of that mighty wood were the abode of hideous fiends and evil spirits, who responded in shrieks, moans, and lamentations to the fearful din of the tempest. It was, indeed, an appalling night! An old—old man sat in his cottage on the verge of the Black Forest. He had numbered ninety years; his head was completely bald—his mouth was toothless—his long beard was white as snow, and his limbs were feeble and trembling.”

Read Wagner the Wehr-Wolf at Gutenberg.org

 

If you’ve read any of these stories, I’d love to hear your comments. Have you been watching Penny Dreadful on ShowTime? Don’t be shy about comments. We all friendly here: no bites or blood-sucking allowed. And of course, if you prefer the quieter side of horror (more psychological or ghostly without blood and violence), there’s plenty of free short stories in the archives (browse the Index above). Since I’m a quiet horror reader and writer, most of the stories here are at the soft-core horror level.

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Lovecraft Ezine      Rob Around Books    The Story Reading Ape Blog

     The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications  The Fussy Librarian

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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Filed under classic horror stories, dark fantasy, fiction, horror, horror blogs, Penny Dreadful, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, vampires, werewolves