Category Archives: soft horror

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

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 “I Was Born to Fear.”

The Horror of the Unreal. The New Yorker.



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   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine     Horror Novel Reviews     

Monster Librarian 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Thriller Author Mark Dawson

Dawson’s Book Marketing site:



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

Quiet Horror, Charles L. Grant


If you are curious about the famous quiet horror author, the late Charles L. Grant (September 12, 1942 – September 15, 2006), stop by Lovecraft Ezine (Mike Davis) for a highly informative video about this genre. Grant won a World Fantasy Award for his novella collection Nightmare Seasons (on Kindle too).


















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Filed under horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror

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.”




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 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=”″>The Psychology of Scary Movies</a> from <a href=””></a&gt; on <a href=””>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.





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

The Mysterious Window

The Deserted House  by  E.T.A. Hoffmann (1909)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 31, 2015



The subject of this story is the mysterious. Are facts more mysterious than the imagination? Or is the power of the imagination the reality?

Our narrator Theodore is a clairvoyant. Or so his friends believe. Theodore tells of an adventure with the mysterious. Imagine you are walking in old Germany on an avenue lined with aristocratic homes and fashionable shops. Tucked among the rich and gay architectures is a deserted old house. Theodore becomes entranced by this closed up and unoccupied home. He wonders what may be hidden within it. One day, in the upper window he sees the hand of a young woman. Later he hears her mad laughs and scratchy old voice.



Fatal magic. A haunted mirror. A gypsy woman in a red shawl. This is a wonderfully creepy story with counts and countesses, betrayals, and of course, the mysterious.




I discovered author E.T.A. Hoffmann (Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann) when I was researching occult music for my current WIP novel Greylock. Hoffmann is most popularly known as a composer, but he’s written novels and over fifty short stories in horror, fantasy, and the supernatural. His tales are full of magic, occult powers of the subconscious, and psychology. He writes in a rich narrative style that carries vintage storytelling atmospherics. Many know his name as the author of the novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, which was the basis for Tchaikovsky’s ballet.





Read the short story online at  at German Mysteries, From The Lock and Key Library by Julian Hawthorne.


Listen to the audio at Librivox,  Parts 1 and 2 on Youtube.


Another Hoffman favorite short is The Sandman, featured here at Tales of Terror on  July 9, 2013.



Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books     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.


Filed under dark fantasy, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, occult, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror

The Dazzling Darkness Hits Best Seller List on Kindle Amazon

Update as of April 27, 2015 … The Dazzling Darkness is still holding on the best seller list for over 6 weeks now.  #32 in ghost stories.


March 17, 2015 … Quick note to my followers and readers, The Dazzling Darkness has hit the Amazon Kindle Best Seller List in Horror genre for Ghost category and Occult category. It grabbed No. 1 for four days, #2 for two days, and is now at #5 and holding. Amazon has discounted it to $2.51 currently.

Thank you to my loyal readership!



Midwest Book Reviews ★★★★★ “Paula Cappa is a master of the metaphysical mystery genre…an extraordinary and original storyteller of the first rank. Very highly recommended.”



BRONZE MEDAL WINNER, Readers’ Favorite Book Award for Supernatural Fiction, 2014 ★★★★★ “Beautiful and high standard writing style from start to finish… a superb and classy supernatural novel.”



Outstanding Fiction ★★★★★  “Dazzling sums up Paula Cappa’s paranormal/supernatural novel … an elegance and grace that seduces you.”



TheDazzling Darkness_CMYK color profile_with medal-2Cappa

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Filed under fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, horror, horror blogs, occult, paranormal, quiet horror, soft horror, supernatural, suspense, The Dazzling Darkness, Women In Horror

Irish Ghost Stories: The Aged Hand With Clenched Knuckles

Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand   by Sheridan Le Fanu (1870s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 10, 2015



With St. Patrick’s Day nearly upon us, reading Irish ghost stories is perfect with Irish Breakfast tea and piping hot soda bread. Curl up with author Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. He was the leading ghost story writer of the nineteenth century, and no St. Patrick’s Day is authentic without reading one of his stories. Le Fanu fans will claim his demonic monkey in Green Tea  is his best work. But today I chose the Narrative of the Ghost of a Hand, one of his stories that has been less read (and painfully absent from most of his literary collections) but full of the ghostly presence that Le Fanu is so admired for.




cottageimagesWe are in the “Tiled House” in Dublin. Mrs. Prosser is sitting alone in her parlour when she spies a white hand, somewhat aged, and lying outside upon the window sill. This disembodied hand sends her screaming. Later that same night there are hasty tappings at the kitchen window. Thumpings. Angry rappings. Clenched knuckles at the back door. One night the hand is no longer wildly rapping to break a window pane outside. Instead, Mrs. Prosser begins to have nightmares. Irishhouseimages










Le Fanu builds a crescendo of hauntings, spooky moments, and chilling scenes of mystery. Don’t look for shock horror here. Le Fanu is famous for his style of eerie tones and disquieting ghosts.

Joseph Sheridan Le Fan

I could not find an online text version of this story but did find the audio version and it’s very well done. This story is published in Classic Victorian & Edwardian Ghost Stories by Rex Collings  and in Classic Ghost Stories by David Pickering  and Horrific Fables by Thomas Huff on Or check if your local library has it.









Listen to the audio short story online at YouTube here.

More audios of Le Fanu’s novels and stories are at  here.

Selections of Le Fanu’s stories available online at ReadBookOnline.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace        Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian   Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books     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.


Filed under fiction, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror

Beyond Victorian Vampirism

Good Lady Ducayne   by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1896)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 9, 2015    Classic Tales from Women In Horror 


This is the second week of celebrating Women in Horror Month. Are you ready to explore the short stories of Mary Elizabeth Braddon?


They were dreamers—and they dreamt themselves into the cemetery.

Young and healthy Bella Rolleston takes a job as a companion with Old Lady Ducayne. Bella quickly learns that Ducayne’s previous two companions became ill and died while caring for her. Mosquito bites? Or something more sinister? When Bella begins to show the same symptoms, dreams of whirring of wheels, sinking into an abyss, and struggling to regain consciousness, she is too innocent to see the truth of her employer and the local physician Dr. Parravicini.


What is curious in this story is how the author Mary Elizabeth Braddon uses science and medicine instead of the supernatural to build a chilling story of suspense. Aging and vanity vs. youth and beauty are the hallmarks of this story not to mention poverty vs. money. The subtext runs a lovely quiet horror tone that is smoothly written by a master writer.


Mary-Elizabeth-Braddon-horse-228x300Mary Elizabeth Braddon, born in London in 1835, wrote some ninety books, short stories, essays, and plays and was revered for her ‘sensation novels.’ She was rated alongside Wilkie Collins and admired by Charles Dickens and Henry James. Lady Audley’s Secret was her most popular novel. She introduced one of the first female detectives Eleanor Vane in Eleanor’s Victory (1863) and then again in 1864 created sleuth Margaret Wilmot in Henry Dunbar. At Chrighton Abbey, Dead Love Has Chains, and The Doctor’s Wife are worthy of rediscovery.





You can read Good Lady Ducayne online at Scroll down to the title.

Listen to audio versions of Braddon’s short stories (Sorry, Lady Ducayne is not among them but other short stories here are quite good) at Library.


I can highly recommend Braddon’s At Chrighton Abbey. This is Downton Abbey with a ghost. Sarah Chrighton returns to her homestead Chrighton Abbey, to the wintery “fairy forests and snow wreathed trees.” The abbey  is a stately grey stone, ivy- and moss-covered estate. Carriage rides, drawing room firesides,  hunts and hounds, a servant’s ball, and of course the Butler Truefold and Housekeeper  Mrs. Marjurum make this short story a snuggle-up read. Not to mention the family curse coupled with shadowy presences that only Sarah can see. I found this story to be one of Braddon’s most gracefully written ghost stories ever. Read it here at






Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace       Sirens Call Publications

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify       Spooky Reads

 Rob Around Books    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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Filed under Christmas ghost stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror, vampires, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month