Category Archives: vampires

An Unspeakable Menace

The Master of Rampling Gate   by Anne Rice (1982)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   July 8, 2014

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“No ghost would ever dare to trouble Rampling Gate.”

So says the blind housekeeper Mrs. Blessington to Julie and Richard, who have inherited this old estate from their father. The year is 1888 and Rampling Gate is an enchanting mansion in the countryside outside of London. The father claims there is an “unspeakable horror” within the house and upon his death, the house must be torn down. Julie and Richard go to visit the house. But Julie falls in love with the estate and … a thrilling young intruder.

 

annerice“Dazed, I watched him come towards me; the room darkened, and I felt his cool silken hands on my face … I was standing before him, and I looked up into his eyes.

“ ‘Something of menace, unspeakable menace’, I whispered, backing away.”

Are you salivating yet? If you know Anne Rice’s prolific work, you can guess that this gothic short story is likely a five-star rating. And it is. This short fiction is tightly written with high drama. It’s a 30-minute read, imaginative, atmospheric, and yes, you will feel haunted. Originally, this story was published as a “Vook,” part book and part video. Isn’t technology fun? You can find it on Amazon as a vook.

As you know, this blog functions mainly as a dead authors society for its weekly short fiction features, but when I come across a current author’s short story that really grabs me I want to share it.

ANNE RICEHere’s what Anne Rice has to say about one of our greatest writers, Charles Dickens:

“I claim Dickens as a mentor. He’s my teacher. He’s one of my driving forces. Dickens is a very underrated writer at the moment. Everyone in his time admired him, but I think right now he’s not spoken of enough.”

 

 

To read the short story, download the PDF  at SecondaryWorlds.com: Scroll down to “rice.pdf”

http://secondaryworlds.com/documents/

The audio is here at YouTube and read by Gigi Mareau–lovely!

 

Visit Anne Rice’s web site at http://www.annerice.com/

 

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I wouldn’t mind a comment if you like having some current authors’ short stories from time to time. I like to offer you free shorts but often, because of copyright issues, they are not usually free links.

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.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Charles Dickens, fiction, horror, horror blogs, short stories, tales of terror, vampires

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.

3 Comments

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