Category Archives: phantoms

Phantom of the Music

Phantom of the Opera   by Gaston Leroux  (1911)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   September 29, 2015

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In the kingdom of phantoms, ghosts, and the shadowy depths, The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux remains one of the most memorable and popular ghostly thrillers of all time. Even today this novel is still on the Amazon’s Kindle best seller list (#77 as of 9-27-15; buy here on Amazon.com for only 99 cents). Theatrical superstitions, ghostly apparitions, and the mystery of the music are a powerful combination for fiction. Published in 1911, Leroux was inspired to write this story after visiting a Paris opera house when a chandelier fell on the audience in 1896. Actor Lon Chaney starred in the film in 1924 and the life of this novel went on to film and Broadway audiences and is still running at full speed at the Majestic Theatre in New York.

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Our story begins at the Paris opera house with the Prologue’s opening line “The opera ghost really existed. He was not, as was long believed, a creature of the imagination …”

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Most of us know the story of the phantom hiding his face behind a mask and how he falls in love with the beauty Christine Daae. This singer is in love with Raoul, Vicomte De Chagny. A triangular love affair mixes with passion, jealousy, revenge, possession, and the pain of loneliness.

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The New York Times Book Review called it  “The wildest and most fantastic of tales.”  And so it is.

Read the FREE novel Phantom of the Opera at the LiteratureProject.com.

Listen to the Librivox dramatic recording at Librivox.com

 

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Leroux wrote other stories. His first story was The Mystery of the Yellow Room (1907). A “locked room” mystery. Mademoiselle Stangerson retires to bed in the Yellow Room. Suddenly revolver shots echo through the house and she screams for help. Her father and a servant run to the locked room where they find the wounded girl – alone. The only other exit, a barred window.

Read  The Mystery of the Yellow Room at OnlineLiterature.com

The Secret of the Night (1914) is  another short novel about a journalist in Russia who partly resembles Inspector DuPin (Poe) and Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle).

Read The Secret of the Night at OnlineLiterature.com

 

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As a reader and a writer I love the idea of supernatural music, demons, angels, music phantoms. The idea of ghostly presences lurking among the melody and notes draws me in immediately. Many of you are aware my own supernatural musical mystery is about to launch in October. GREYLOCK has just a hint of flavor of Phantom of the Opera.  Here’s an early review:

“Echoing notes of Phantom of the Opera, mixed with Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, and Peter Straub’s Ghost StoryGreylock is a thrilling musical tragedy steeped in lore, mythology, and the madness of composition, leading to a crescendo of epic proportions. Paula Cappa is a gifted author, and this book will have you swooning in the aisles.” —Richard Thomas, author of Disintegration.

 

More early reviews to come … when the leaves fall … GREYLOCK

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

All images public domain from WikiCommons.org

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Dark Magic of Music

Music parallels the occult.

Can the notes we hear lead us into a dark abyss? Composer and music critic E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1882, known as “Ghost Hoffmann”) recognized the mysterious forces in music.  You might remember his name from his opera The Nutcracker. Hoffmann believed that music can “open to man an unknown realm.”  In his famous essay “Beethoven’s Instrumental Music” Hoffmann writes that while Mozart’s music evokes the super-human, Beethoven’s music brings us into the unfathomable … “we see gigantic shadows swaying back and forth” and become “seers of the realm of spirits.”  Nietzsche advises us to listen to music with our muscles. If we did, would we experience these musical shadows? Would we enter a realm of spirits?

Alexei Georg, pianist and composer, listens to music with not only his muscles but with the deepest elements of his mind and soul. What does he discover when he plays a forgotten sonata he found inside an old Russian sea chest? This sheet music carries with it, in Hoffmann’s words, “mists of fear, of horror, of terror.” And I promise you, the darkest of shadows.

Alexei Georg is a young man living in Boston and about to journey into the dark magic of music.

GREYLOCK

Supernatural thriller … soon … when the leaves fall.

MTGR-MA


			

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Mysteries of the Invisible

The Horla  by Guy de Maupassant  (1887)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   August 25, 2015

 

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“I began to see myself through a mist in the depths of the looking-glass,

in a mist as it were through a sheet of water …”

 

The mysterious invisible. Unfathomable powers. Phantoms from the void. This short story may be a psychological horror story—de Maupassant’s most famous story—but it is also a masterpiece of suspense and a finely constructed narrative by a writer who was institutionalized shortly after the publication. The Horla in French means “the outsider there.”

Sanity vs. doubts of sanity, vs. insanity vs. a real phantom. Our protagonist has an irritation of the nerves. He lives alone, unmarried, and begins to have recurring nightmares of a creature crushing and choking him in his bed night after night. Rest and relaxation make no improvement. Soon enough we find that an invisible being is feeding on milk and water inside the bedroom and slowly but surely taking possession of our sad and tormented young man.

There’s a line in this story that struck me:  “When we are alone for a long time we people the void with phantoms.”   I especially like how de Maupassant makes the reader feel that everything happening is false and at the same time makes you feel that everything is real. What a writer!

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de Maupassant published over 300 short stories and 6 novels.  H.P. Lovecraft found inspiration  from The Horla for his The Call of the Cthulhu.

 

 

 

 

 

“I entered literary life as a meteor, and I shall leave it like a thunderbolt.” –Guy de Maupassant

 

Read the short story at Gutenberg.org (Scroll down to The Horla)

 

Listen to the audio at Librivox on YouTube.com

 

Watch the 1963 film (a loose adaptation), starring Vincent Price, “Diary of a Madman” on YouTube.

 

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com        Sirens Call Publications

Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

Rob Around Books     Sillyverse    The Story Reading Ape Blog

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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Horror-Struck in Benchurch

The Judge’s House  by Bram Stoker (1891)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    August 27, 2013

You’ve heard the old saying, At the darkest hour comes the light. In Bram Stoker’s The Judge’s House, that blackest hour has all the power. I want you to meet Malcolm Malcolmson. Say it aloud, low and throaty. Malcolm Malcolmson. Even the name has a haunting tone. He is a scholar, young, strong, a bit unsociable but determined to find a “quiet” place to dive into his beloved studies. Quiet is probably putting it mildly; he really wants isolation, a desolate location to learn the mysteries of Mathematical Tripos, Harmonical Progression, Permutations and Combinations, and Elliptic Functions.

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Most of us can’t identify what these studies are exactly, but it sounds very ambitious. While we can admire Malcolm, we are also immediately intrigued when he comes upon an unoccupied old rambling, heavy-built house of the Jacobean style, with heavy gables and windows in the small town of Benchurch.

Thinking haunted house, are you? Not quite. This is a story about the power of darkness, a darkness so diabolical that I doubt you’ll be able to stop reading until you reach the conclusion.

Our young Malcolm settles into the house with all his textbooks. Mrs. Dempster, the charwoman, provides meals and housekeeping. But Mrs. Dempster has her own reluctance about the house and especially the screens in the dining room … ‘things,’ that put their heads round the sides, or over the top, and look on me!

Do rats, mice, and beetles offend you? Would a grisly rope attached to the roof’s alarm bell hanging down in the corner of the dining room make you feel uneasy—especially if it creaks? What about portraits on the wall covered so thickly with dust you can’t see the faces … yet.

Close to the hearth is a great high-backed carved oak chair, with a mysterious something seated upon it … with baleful eyes.  In the evenings, while Malcolm is buried within the pages of his mathematical rationalizations (and this is important because we all know that mathematical thinking does not have any power to battle the supernatural), the scampering and little screeches begin.

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Stoker keeps his narrative moving by bringing the lens in closer and closer to build a foreboding tension. However, I found The Judge’s House to be extra mysterious when I stretched out on my sofa, turned the lights low, and listened this short story by LibriVox Recordings. There’s a magnetic quality in Stoker’s prose—the pacing and descriptions are truly evocative for a suspenseful read-aloud.

Read the short story at Gaslight (45-minute read) http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/judghous.htm

Listen to the LibriVox Recording at YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUHbPrpsO48

More of Bram Stoker short stories are at Bram Stoker.org

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 Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads         WattPad

The Story Reading Ape Blog     

Books on the Nightstand 

Interesting Literature

Horror Novel Reviews

Hell Horror

Monster Librarian

TheInsatiableBookSlut

For Authors/Writers:

The Writer Unboxed

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That Other Evil

The Return of Andrew Bentley  by August W. Derleth and Mark Schorer (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   June 18, 2013

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May I invite you in … to listen. Can you hear the peet peet from the nighthawk? Can you recognize the gasping and gurgling cries from the river? What’s that movement in the shadowy distance of the trees? A caped, dark and hunched creature flattens itself against the vaulted doors of your uncle’s gravesite. Gleaming white fingers spread out.

You dash to your uncle’s vault. Who would dare tamper with the dead? Who!

Uncle Amos is a dabbler of the dark arts and a believer … of evil demons lured to earth by man’s ignorance, of souls isolated in space, and of an ever-present evil wrath. Uncle Amos lives in the rustic village of Sac Prairie, in an old homestead on the banks of the Wisconsin River, until his sudden death, at which time his nephew, Ellis, inherits house and properties—and must agree to the old man’s single demand.

Uncle Amos instructs Ellis, “Let no day go by during which you do not examine the vault behind the house. My body will lie there, and the vault will be sealed. If at any time you discover that someone has been tampering, you will find written instructions for your further procedure in my library desk.”

Written instructions. This is where it really gets good. The Return of Andrew Bentley is not just a ghost story as you might expect. This is quite a thrilling story with young Ellis struggling to protect his dead uncle’s body, maintain his own sanity and safety, and avoid dipping himself into the blackest of arts.

I wish I could provide you with a direct link to the actual short story, but I could not locate a single online read anywhere, which means the copyright is not in public domain.

I did locate a video from Boris Karloff’s Thriller Theater made in 1961, vintage black-and-white and with a bit of melodrama that is so charming of that time, complete with sinister organ music. The script is written by the talented and famous Richard Matheson. And you might enjoy some of the amazing outdoor photography with horse and carriage scenes.

If you want to read this short story (I found my copy in an old anthology from 1941), 25 Modern Stories of Mystery and Imagination, Editor Phil Stong, Garden City Publishing Co., Inc. The story is also in Famous Ghost Stories by Editor Christopher Cerf, published by Vintage NY.  Both books are on AbeBooks.com or try your local library.

Watch the video here at Karloff’s Thriller Theater:

http://archive.org/details/KarloffThriller

And I found this commentary by Peter Enfantino and John Scoleri that might be an interesting addition to your evening with The Return of Andrew Bentley.

http://athrilleraday.blogspot.com/2010/10/return-of-andrew-bentley-season-2.html

A quick word about the author August Derleth who collaborated with Mark Schorer to write this shortie. Derleth, a prolific and versatile writer (over 3000 works published in 350 magazines) co-founded  Arkham House, publisher of Lovecraft’s stories, Blackwood’s and others. Some of his literary influences were not only Lovecraft but also Thoreau, Emerson, A.C. Doyle, and Robert Frost. Derleth invented the term “Cthulhu Mythos” for Lovecraft’s fictional universe.

Art Credit: A Thriller A Day Blogspot.

NOTE:  Just in case you missed this announcement, my supernatural novel, The Dazzling Darkness won Joel Friedlander’s Ebook Cover Award for Fiction, cover designer Gina Casey. Many thanks to  Gina for an award-winning cover.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/06/e-book-cover-design-awards-may-2013/

http://www.hellhorror.com/links/

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Remains of the Dead

The Damned Thing  by Ambrose Bierce (1893)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   May 7, 2013

[May is National Short Story Month. We are reading a short story every day to celebrate (Well, honestly, I do that anyway. I love reading shorties; I love writing shorties.). Please join the movement and read, review, comment, blog, post on Facebook, and tweet about short stories.]

By the light of a tallow candle … 

A corpse, a book, a coroner, insects whizzing in the trees, strange cries of night birds, and an assembly of local mountain men, The Damned Thing presents one question. What or who killed this man?

The dead man is Hugh Morgan, a hunter. We know very little of the circumstances of his death except that it happened in a field of wild oats, and something tore him to shreds.

Ambrose Bierce is a clever writer and likes to use his wit and sarcasm to bite the reader. There is something of the familiar old campfire tale here where the woodsy noises made you jump and the flickering firelight shoot out shadows with horns and claws. Lovecraft was said to have liked The Damned Thing so much that it inspired him to write The Colour Out of Space.

Bierce’s story is a short one (3000 words), but executed in four segments, has a curious scientific aspect and plays with the old adage, “seeing is believing.” Or in this case, not seeing is believing.

A man though naked may be in rags.

Meet William Harker, a young fiction writer, and the last man to see Hugh Morgan alive.

Read it at Readbookonline:

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/1323/

I found a narration of The Damned Thing on YouTube.  Turn down the lights, open the windows to let in the sounds and dark colors of the night and listen …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE9VTcNvw6k

And since it’s National Short Story Month, I’ll include a second short story for you: Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space—science fiction, moody, and atmospheric. Lovecraft considered this story to be his finest.

The opening line is certainly one of the best ever written …

West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs.

Read it here at the H.P. Lovecraft site:

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/cs.aspx

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Behold, the Phantom Mirror

In the Mirror by Valery Brussof (Bryusov), 1918

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 19, 2013

Look in a mirror. What do you see besides your own reflection? A hypnotic pair of eyes staring back or a deep magnetic attraction? Let’s say this reflection holds a secret, a consciousness inside the expanse of glass.  Might there be an apparition there? A rival? Phantoms?

In the Mirror was written by little known author Valery Brussof (1873-1924), Russian poet, writer, and scholar, embracer of Bolshevism, and leader in the Russian symbolist movement during the Silver Age. He is remembered for his horror novel The Fiery Angel, a 16th-century romantic drama about the passionate Renata and her sexual and spiritual occult practices.

While superstitions and folklore abound about mirrors bringing bad luck or telling the future, Brussof doesn’t go that route. We are clearly in the present harsh light of reality. He writes this story with subtle atmospheric technique, as we are dragged into the mysterious abyss of a reflected and fragmented universe.

Vanity is a favorite sin. And so it is with our character, a daring woman of beauty who loves mirrors but weeps and trembles as she discovers the mirror’s truthful depths.

We are in December, the winter dawn, when a confrontation manifests between this woman and the image she finds inside her mirror. Consciousness is a strange energy—pale, half dead, a burning-icy feeling that may very well breathe darkness into the soul.

“Come hither!”

Read In the Mirror here curled up in a gloomy corner with moonlight bending the window glass, maybe a flute of potato vodka at hand and a bit of zakuska (delicate meat-filled pastries). Escape with Valery Brussof.

http://moonlightstories.magick7.com/1/0695.htm

I’d love for you to leave a comment. Stop back next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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