Category Archives: quiet horror

Backwoods Murder

A Good Man is Hard to Find    by Flannery O’Connor  (1955)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 14, 2017

 

Dark fiction is known to be a broad category, but most agree it is the literary expressions of disturbing human nature. The stories are sometimes graphically violent. This story is not–it does have a dark truth and a riveting suspense.

 

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We are in the 1950s. Grandma and her family are on a road trip from Georgia to Florida.  Grandma’s son, Bailey, his ‘cabbage-faced wife,’ and their children—a bratty girl and boy—and a cat named Pitty Sing are headed through the deep South.  Family dynamics here are intense as you might expect on a long car trip.

Bailey, the dad: “All right!” he shouted and drew the car to a stop at the side of the road. “Will you all shut up? Will you all just shut up for one second? If you don’t shut up, we won’t go anywhere.”

And then an accident happens.  That silly snarly cat. They tumbled into a ditch. And as it happens, an escaped convict, a killer named “The Misfit” is on the loose  in the deep South.

“Behind the ditch they were sitting in there were more woods, tall and dark and deep. In a few minutes they saw a car some distance away on top of a hill, coming slowly as if the occupants were watching them. The grandmother stood up and waved both arms dramatically to attract their attention. The car continued to come on slowly, disappeared around a bend and appeared again, moving even slower, on top of the hill they had gone over. It was a big black battered hearse-like automobile. There were three men in it.”

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The story isn’t horror but it will horrify the reader. Tightly crafted, it’s a superb tale of literal and figurative turning points. What struck me was the presence of the bird ghost, “bright blue parrots”  threaded in. Chilling effect.

 

 

This is bizarre Southern literature by an awe-inspiring writer, a master of form, Flannery O’Connor. She was an American fiction author and essayist, wrote novels and thirty-two short stories, and won a National Book Award and three O. Henry Awards. The famous  Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction  just celebrated its 30th anniversary at The University of Georgia Press. The award was established to encourage gifted young writers by bringing their work to the attention of readers and reviewers.

“The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place

and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.”  Flannery O’Connor

O’Connor loved birds. As a child, she sewed clothes for her pet chickens. Peacocks were her favorite. She kept near 40 peacocks on her property. Visit her website: http://www.flanneryoconnor.org/

 

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Read A Good Man is Hard to Find (Finalist for the 1956 National Book Award in Fictionat Xroads.Virginia.Edu.

 

Listen and read along to the story (read by Flannery O’Connor) at Genius.com.

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of nearly 200 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, and horror. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

 

  Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 

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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

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

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Poe’s “Some Words With a Mummy”

Some Words With a Mummy  by Edgar Allan Poe  (1850)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 25, 2016

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Mummies are not all that scary are they? These days we tend to poke fun at them  with corny jokes (What did Pharaoh say when he saw the pyramid? “Mummy’s home.”).  Poe may have been one of the first to create amusement at such dead things  in this wackiest of his short stories.

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The story begins with our narrator describing his dull evening at home, when a “furious ringing at the street-door bell, and then an impatient thumping at the knocker, which awakened me at once.

This is the invitation he receives from Dr. Ponnonner:

“Come to me, by all means, my dear good friend, as soon as you receive this. Come and help us to rejoice. At last, by long persevering diplomacy, I have gained the assent of the Directors of the City Museum, to my examination of the Mummy — you know the one I mean. I have permission to unswathe it and open it, if desirable. A few friends only will be present — you, of course. The Mummy is now at my house, and we shall begin to unroll it at eleven to-night.”

Come to this “unwrapping party” and meet the mummy Count Allamistakeo. Even his name is cute! This mummy is not only revived but he can articulate. And the rest is history … Egyptian history that is. American vanity vs. Egyptology vs. science in full Poe style. This is one Poe story you might have missed.

No doubt Poe became inspired to write this adventure from when he observed a mummy on display in the Virginia State Capitol—at the age of 14, he was certainly impressed creatively.

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If you really want a vintage literary experience, listen to the storytelling on audio:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDH4RJNWXMg

Read the short story at Virginia.Edu:

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/poe/mummy.html

 

 

 

 

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Want more Poe literature? Visit these sites:

Edgar Allan Poe Museum website.

Edgar Allan Poe Stories website.

The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe (Smithsonian).

The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore.

Halloween’s coming soon … and more ghostly literature for next week!

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 180 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 classic horror stories, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, Halloween stories, horror blogs, literature, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, science fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, tales of terror

House of the Dead Hand

The House of the Dead Hand by Edith Wharton  (1902)

Tales of Terror  August 9, 2016

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We all know the novel The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde as the most famous story about a painting that has supernatural powers. In Edith Wharton’s The House of the Dead Hand, we have a Leonardo masterpiece owned by a possessive doctor named Lombard and his daughter Sybilla who live in Sienna Italy. A young man Mr. Wyant comes to their home to view the painting. Of course, there’s much more than just observing a work of art going on here. The painting is a mesmerizing beauty, but we all know that beauty without spirituality is an empty vessel.

This story sneaks up on you, is psychological and supernatural, and has a twisty ending. Edith Wharton was known as a skillful social commentator especially in her fiction. In this short story, we find a mystery of a young woman trapped by her father, a forbidden romance, and the atmosphere full of dark descriptions and subtle spirituality.

The House of the Dead Hand

The name comes from an antique hand of marble which for many hundred years has been above the door … The hand was a woman’s — a dead drooping hand, which hung there convulsed and helpless, as though it had been thrust forth in denunciation of some evil mystery within the house, and had sunk struggling into death.

The mystery here is written in classic Wharton style. Her stories are realistic of her times and culture. This story is a bleak message about a father-daughter relationship and typical male dominance of the early 1900s. While Edith Wharton was known as the dark prophetess, she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize—in 1921 for Age of Innocence.

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Read the short story at EastOfTheWeb.com.

 

 

 

 

 

THE MOUNT, LENOX, MASSACHUSETTS

Recently I toured Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, Massachusetts. At The Mount, there are reported ghosts who float the passages, linger in the bathroom, and occupy chairs. The house is magnificent but I didn’t sense any ghosts as I toured the rooms, no footsteps or chills, no desperate whispers at my back. Because the reality of ghosts fails logic and reason, some of us believe in them because we sense them emotionally. The house has a quiet imperious air and reflects the stately Wharton as I imagine her.  Here are a few images of my moments with Edith Wharton on a Friday afternoon in Lenox.

 

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My view as I sipped iced tea on Edith’s stone and marble veranda.

Lush green everywhere.

 

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No ghosts lurking but the shadows at the window had shapely images of distorted heads looking in from the green boughs at the glass.

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Edith’s window lounge. Can’t you just see her reclined with a book in her hand? An unidentified flower-scent hovered in the air.

Read more about the ghosts at The Mount.

My favorite image for The Age of Innocence by Victor Gabriel Gilbert,

“An Elegant Sioree”

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The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts (1900s)

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free short stories and ghost tales. This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, 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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Book Review of Greylock from Goodread’s Top Reviewer

Book Review of Greylock by BookLover CatLady, Maxine, Goodread’s top reviewer.

May 16, 2016

Five stars …

Greylock is a sublime work of art, the words in this book swept me off my feet and balanced me on waves of beautiful and intense prose.I will never be the same again. Sometimes an author comes around that is like no other, where their writing stands out as something special, magical and unique. Paula Cappa is such an author. I read her fantastic book This Dazzling Darkness and was equally blown away with the entire journey. If you have not read a book by Paula and you love books, then you need to. This one is a good place to start.

Even the synopsis gives you a glimpse of the power of this novel and the words within it, this is one of those hard reviews to write as it had such an emotional and mental impact, have a taste of the blurb to start:

Murder, lies, romance, betrayal—and the flickering phantasmagoria.
Inside the supernatural realm beats sinister music. Don’t believe it? Just ask violinists Paganini or Tartini about their deals with the devil for their virtuosity. Pianist Alexei Georg harbors a dark secret—he finds an anonymous old sonata in a 19th-century Russian sea chest.

When Alexei performs this handsome music in concert, a creature of darkness appears in the audience, in the aisle, and on the stage with him. This is no ghost. This faceless menacing presence haunts Alexei relentlessly. From Boston’s music society to the White Sea in Russia where the whales sing. Alexei is on a quest for the songs of the beluga whales, so he can compose a whale symphony in hopes of saving his career.

Alexei is married to ballerina Carole Anne but he can’t resist the steamy and delicious Lia Marrs. When Carole Anne is found murdered, Alexei flees Boston and the suspicion of the crime to the summit of Mt. Greylock. He is determined to write his whale symphony from the mountaintop. But Alexei cannot flee the unstoppable sonata that he has delivered into this world. Alone on Greylock, he must find a way to halt the dark force within his music or become prisoner to its phantasmagoric power in an ever-expanding abyss.

A dark entity from beyond enters the world of Pianist Alexai and life will never be the same again, the battle between the mortal self and something that is not of this world has commenced, but who will be the victor and at what price? The plot in this book is spectacular, the chapters where Alexai travel on an ancient Russian ship in search of pods of beautiful Beluga Whales in order to record their amazing singing to compose a symphony is just out of this world. You will be taken away with it, you will be on the ship, you will also be swimming with these magnificent creatures, you will hear the music they make and…you will see the dark, menacing shadowed, feathered figure from the darkness. Stalking, watching, threatening.

Meanwhile back in his hometown of Boston there are murdered bodies and eyes are thrust upon him. The hunt for a serial killer is at work and fingers are pointing in all directions, including at Alexai. From the freezing cold White Sea in Russia to the lonely and isolated mountain location Greylock the book abounds with a sense of underlying tension that keeps you turning the pages, wanting more, hungry for more. I loved everything about this book from the musical descriptions to the ancient Russian legends, but I especially loved the supernatural aspect of the being that enters Alexai’s world. You will be fascinated and repulsed all at the same time.

As the battle continues on so many levels the book just gets better and better, one thing is sure when reading a book written by Paula Cappa is that the words themselves wrap themselves around you and don’t let go. In my mind she is an undiscovered genius that needs more and more people reading her books, they really are very special. I don’t feel I can even do this book justice, it was beautiful, dark, chilling, disturbing, emotional, powerful and unforgettable. This one is a contender to be in my Top Ten Reads of 2015.

No doubt about it – 5 stars for this incredible book. Bravo! Paula Cappa has excelled herself with her new novel Greylock and I know it will appeal to readers who enjoy many genres. I hope you will be inspired to read. A stunning book that deserves all the praise it gets. Brilliant.

For more reviews by Maxine, books to win and author spotlights:https://www.facebook.com/BookloverCat…

Visit Maxine on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22943325-maxine-booklover-catlady

You can follow Maxine on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/promotethatbook

Many thanks to Paula Cappa for sharing a copy of her book with me in exchange for a fair and honest review. (less)

GREYLOCK

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, horror blogs, Mt. Greylock, murder mystery, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural music, supernatural mysteries, supernatural thrillers

The Dim, Dark-Toned Room

The Shell of Sense  by Olivia Howard Dunbar (1940s)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 26, 2016

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If you’ve ever mused about what it’s like to be newly dead, here is a story about two sisters, one who has recently passed but remains earthbound. Theresa and Frances. And, Frances’ husband Allan.

It is Frances who has passed but lingers in her home with her sister Theresa and Allan.

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“No spirit still unreleased can understand the pang that I felt with Allan sitting almost within my touch. Almost irresistibly the wish beset me to let him for an instant feel my nearness.”

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Frances manifests herself as transiently, as a thought. “I could produce the merest necessary flicker, like the shadow of a just-opened leaf, on his trembling, tortured consciousness.”

Oliva Howard Dunbar writes more than a ghost story here. And even more than a love story. Beautifully written, this short story is about jealously and love and will soothe as much as it will haunt.

 

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Olivia Howard Dunbar was Massachusetts-born in 1873, active in the Suffrage Movement, and became editor of New York World. Her stories were published in Harpers and The Dial. She is most famous for her essay  The Decay of the Ghost in Fiction. She also wrote The Long Chamber, The Sycamore, and The Dream Baby.

 

 

Read the short story The Shell of Sense at EastOfTheWeb.com.

 

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    

 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

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Supernatural Powers in Dreams

Supernatural Powers in Dreams    April 8, 2016

Come into a night sea journey …

Carl_Gustav_JungHave you ever had a ghostly cold dream? A nightmare with the chill of death in it? Carl Jung (20th century Swiss psychiatrist) says nightmares tell us something important. Jung believed there is a psychic reality to dreams. He even went so far as to say they carry a supra-luminous level of frequency that exceeds the speed of light.

As dreamers pass into this passage of sleep, they might see a heavy dark spot spreading out. This is akin to the fear of losing consciousness. And this fear is so great that—rather than become totally unconscious—we dream. We create images and action, little stories to maintain our identity. These are the thoughts of Dr. Laz Merlyn, psychiatrist, in Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural. A supernatural mystery about nightmares, dreaming, and a supra-luminous frequency.

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Laz Merlyn is a Jungian therapist. He sees a dream as a dance of alternate energy, an event that is actually a psychic energy taking action in our lives.

Let’s say you dream of a bird. A phoenix, lush with grand feathers and with wings pushing out. Dr. Merlyn will tell you that a phoenix, according to Jungian theory, symbolizes the human spleen that protects against infection and cleanses the blood. Maybe in normal life, some bacteria or person or event is poised to attack you in some way. Merlyn will tell you that when you wake up, this phoenix will linger over your life. This psychic energy of the phoenix is present, day upon day, redirecting you, watching over. Are you becoming more guarded as the days pass? Suspicious? Cautious? For some people, this frequency goes unnoticed. For others who are alert to it, they are deeply affected.

Kip Livingston is a woman who is alert to this psychic dream energy. She is a semi-famous artist living alone in Abasteron House on Horn Island in the Atlantic. And she dreams not of a phoenix, but of a raging firehawk.

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A shadowy winged creature with a flaming chest, shedding ash, who captures her in her sleep and drags her into the bottom of an icy sea. This nightmare comes again and again and each night, Kip goes deeper beneath the choking waves as the firehawk grows more fierce. What does Dr. Laz Merlyn say about that?

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Dr. Merlyn might say to Kip, “The flow of psychic dream energy has the power to move inward and outward. In this dream of the firehawk, there is a negative psychic frequency. Likely caused by intense night terrors. What are you afraid of, Kip?”

Fear; Dr. Merlyn thinks he’s right for the most part. Until he discovers that Kip’s firehawk is not confined to her dreams. Until he discovers that this firehawk breaks through into Kip’s reality and into our physical world. What power is this? One that can take her on a journey into the night sea.

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Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural is an Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner. The Hoffer Awards honor excellence in writing and prose in chiefly academic, small, and micro presses, and self-published authors.  The winners are nominated by a panel of independent judges. Eric Hoffer Review:  “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.”

U.S. Review of Books says of Night Sea Journey: “Stunning and absorbing plot on par with–if not better than–a Dan Brown novel.”

Come to Abasteron House by the Sea.

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Click on Amazon.com to LOOK INSIDE and

experience Kip’s dreaming firehawk.

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Published by Crispin Books in Trade Softcover.

Available in ebook:

Amazon.com

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Trees Bathed in Blood

A View of the Woods  by Flannery O’Connor  (1957)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    March 29, 2016

 

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We don’t normally think of Flannery O’Connor when we want to read a mystery. A View of the Woods is an ‘uncomfortable mystery’ and one that goes deep. Would we expect anything less from the queen of southern literature, Flannery O’Connor? This short tale is Christian-haunted, a human brutality with a demonic force. Characterization here is compelling and won’t let you close the book.

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Mary Fortune is nine years old. A cute spunky little girl and her grandfather’s favorite—because Mary is just like the grandfather. But this old guy, Mr. Fortune, is driven by so much pride and obsessed with progress, the result becomes bloody and tragic. There’s no supernatural elements going on unless you recognize a visionary moment by the grandfather. But there is a whole lot of symbolism going on. The woods are often places of fear and vulnerability. In this story, we see how a person can closed his eyes to the ‘hellish red trunks that rise up in a blackwood.’ Viewing the woods is not all the grandfather finally sees.

 

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The third time he [Mr. Fortune] got up to look at the woods, it was almost six o’clock and the gaunt trunks appeared to be raised in a pool of red light that gushed from the almost hidden sun setting behind them. The old man stared for some time, as if for a prolonged instant he were caught up out of the rattle of everything that led to the future and were held there in the midst of an uncomfortable mystery that he had not apprehended before. He saw it, in his hallucination, as if someone were wounded behind the woods and the trees were bathed in blood.

Watch for the color yellow symbolism here. O’Connor does this brilliantly.

Read the short story from Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories via PDF (scroll down to page 343).

 

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Flannery O’Connor, born in Savannah, Georgia in 1925, won a National Book Award for Fiction in 1972. She wrote over 30 short stories and 2 novels.

 

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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 week! Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine     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

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Filed under fiction, literary horror, literature, mysteries, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror