Category Archives: witches

Witch Hunt, Shirley Jackson Style

The Witch  by Shirley Jackson

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   August 8, 2017

Everyday evil. Shirley Jackson is a master at the subtleties of normal life streaming with little horrors. Most of us know Jackson’s most famous The Lottery (which she reportedly wrote in one morning) and The Haunting of Hill House.  In this 14-minute read of The Witch, the story opens with a little boy and his mom on a train. There is a little sister too. All cozy, right? Enter the witch, and this one is far from the old crone  you’d expect.

 

 

 

 

 

Read the short story here at jlax.wikispaces.com.

 

Listen to the  11-minute audio here at YouTube.com

 

 

 

“Shirley Jackson is the master of the haunted tale . . .   Everything this author wrote . . . has in it the dignity and plausibility of myth . . .  Shirley Jackson knew better than any writer since Hawthorne the value of haunted things.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Leaves no doubt as to Miss Jackson’s craftsmanship and power . . . utterly convincing detail that breaks down the reader’s disbelief.”
Saturday Review

 

I also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a novella, twisty and suspenseful tale. Book review on Amazon.com.

 

Do you love to read book reviews? I have about 100 book reviews on Amazon.com at Paula Cappa Reviews. Please stop by and take a quick read and click into the book title to read full review. I’d love it if you answer YES ‘if this review was helpful to you’:  PAULA CAPPA REVIEWS ON AMAZON.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and ‘quiet horror.’

Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome.

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

Books & Such    Bibliophilica   NewYorkerFictionOnline

 Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine   Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds

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

EZindiepublishing

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, ghost story blogs, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, mysteries, occult, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, witches, Women In Horror

Never Poison a Witch

Catskin  by Kelly Link   (2012)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 31, 2017

 

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When we think of witches, we don’t think of soft round women, scented and powdered, wearing pink tufted slippers, and living in cute houses. They are more like women with twisted hearts that beat fierce blood into powerful spells over their victims. Kelly Link writes in odd directions and this story, Catskin,  is a world where you can totally lose yourself. Are you up for a horrific fairy tale? Here’s a warning: Never poison a witch.

The witch, up in her bedroom, was dying.

Now, since witches cannot have children in the usual way—their wombs are full of straw or bricks or stones, and when they give birth, they give birth to rabbits, kittens, tadpoles, houses, silk dresses, and yet even witches must have heirs, even witches wish to be mothers—the witch had acquired her children by other means: She had stolen or bought them.

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Do you like creepy cats? When I think of old cats, I conjure up lazy ones on a quilted bedspread, eyes slit closed and their soft minds dreaming in the shadows—a little bit like Poe said in The Raven: “I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.” Truly, I do.

 

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Cats trotted and slunk and leapt and crouched. They were busy. Their movements were catlike, or perhaps clockwork. Their tails twitched like hairy pendulums. They paid no attention to the witch’s children.

 

Witches and cats … a winning combination for a short story.

 

 

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Ancient Proverb: You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.”

 

Read Catskin at LightspeedMagazine.com  

 

kelly-linkKelly Link’s  debut collection, Stranger Things Happen, was a Firecracker nominee, a Village Voice Favorite Book and a Salon Book of the Year — Salon called the collection “…an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Stories from the collection have won the Nebula, the James Tiptree Jr., and the World Fantasy Awards. Her second collection, Magic for Beginners, was chosen as one of the best books of the decade by Salon and The Onion.  Kelly has taught at Smith College, Columbia University, UMass Amherst, Lenoir-Rhyne College, Clarion, Clarion West, and Clarion South in Brisbane, Australia, and the Imagination Workshop at Cleveland State University.

 

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Read more of Kelly Link’s work like Catskin in her Magic for Beginners.

 

 

Check out BuzzFeed’s Cat Stories.

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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

 

The Kill Zone

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

EZindiepublishing

Thriller Author Mark Dawson http://markjdawson.com/

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

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Filed under dark fantasy, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, witches, Women In Horror

A Witch is a Witch

The Witch  by Anton Chekhov (1918)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   March 3, 2015

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The lovely and young Raissa, adorned with hair plaits that touch the floor, is a witch. Or maybe not. Her husband Savely is a red-haired, grouchy and repulsive  older man who believes his wife is a witch and blames her for the wicked snowstorm and cold they must endure in their little house in the countryside.

Our story opens in true Chekhovian style with descriptive atmospherics.

 

imgres“A plaintive lament sobbed at the window, on the roof, or in the stove. It sounded not like a call for help, but like a cry of misery, a consciousness that it was too late, that there was no salvation.”

A postman and his partner become lost in the storm and knock at their cabin door. Raissa opens the door to these strangers. And the postman becomes enchanted, or should I say bewitched, by Raissa’s lovely neck.

 

 

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Watch for the fascinating dark imagery that is the star of this story. Sexual and spiritual desires are themes in this fiction by the long acclaimed master of the short story, Anton Chekhov. He is famous for his anti-climactic endings that leave a reader to ponder Chekhov’s messages. And his prose! We can still marvel today at his talents.  Eudora Welty  said “Reading Chekhov was just like the angels singing to me.” For my writer followers here, in case you’ve not read Chekhov’s Six Principles of a Good Story, here they are. My favorite is #6. Chekhov certainly fulfilled that one.

  1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of a political-social-economic nature
  2. Total objectivity
  3. Truthful descriptions of persons and objects
  4. Extreme brevity
  5. Audacity and originality: flee the stereotype
  6. Compassion

 

150px-Anton_Chekhov_and_Olga_Knipper,_1901Chekhov’s death has been a well-known story in literary history. Raymond Carver fictionalized it in his short story Errand (read it here). If you’re a Chekhov fan, you must read Errand. Chekhov’s wife Olga  tells it like this.  “Anton sat up unusually straight and said loudly and clearly (although he knew almost no German): Ich sterbe (“I’m dying”). The doctor calmed him, took a syringe, gave him an injection of camphor, and ordered champagne. Anton took a full glass, examined it, smiled at me and said: “It’s a long time since I drank champagne.” He drained it and lay quietly on his left side, and I just had time to run to him and lean across the bed and call to him, but he had stopped breathing and was sleeping peacefully as a child.” [From Olga Knipper, Memoir, in Benedetti, Dear Writer, Dear Actress, 284]

 

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Read The Witch at the Classic Reader http://www.classicreader.com/book/394/1/

Unfortunately I could not find an audio of this story but there are many others here at Chekhov Audio.

[Art of nude witch is by Albert Joseph Penot, “Sabbat,” 1910]

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

 Bibliophilopolis

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     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 Anton Chekhov, fiction, horror, horror blogs, literature, psychological horror, short stories, suspense, tales of terror, witches

Old Murderess, Fledermausse

The Invisible Eye   by Erckmann-Chatrian (1850s)

Emile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 18, 2014

Master Christian is a struggling and penniless artist who spends his days at his window creating paintings. His room overlooks the sprawling town of Nuremberg and an intimate view of the Boeuf-Gras Inn. One night Christian observes a man hanging from the crossbeams of the inn’s sign. Christian describes the victim …

“ … the hair disheveled, the arms stiff, the legs elongated to a point, and casting their gigantic shadows down to the street! The immobility of this figure under the moon’s rays was terrible. I felt my tongue freezing, my teeth clinched. I was about to cry out in terror when, by some incomprehensible mysterious attraction, my glance fell below, and I distinguished, confusedly, the old woman crouched at her window in the midst of dark shadows, and contemplating the dead man with an air of diabolic satisfaction.”

This old wretch is famous among the local folk for her hideous grimaces of pointed teeth, beady green eyes, puckered cheeks. She is known as Fledermausse, from whom all children flee and adults shun. Even societies of cats decline her company; not a single sparrow comes to rest under her roof.

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We soon learn that three victims have hung themselves on that the Inn’s crossbeam, and all three were occupants in the inn’s “Green Room.” Christian is convinced that Fledermousse is somehow responsible for their suicides. He suspects the old hag has  occult powers and is preparing another snare from her darkness.

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Christian follows Fledermausse for weeks. He must know what powers she possesses as she moves about town with a basket on her arm and then climbs up her stairway covered in old shells to her worm-eaten balcony. Then one night, Christian sees that the Green Room has a new occupant. He cannot sit idly by this time; he must act and act quickly if he is to save the innocent man who has entered the Green Room.

Will Christian succumb to Fledermausse’s evil powers?

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Read The Invisible Eye online at Gutenberg.org (Library of the World’s Best Mystery and Detective Stories).

Listen to the audio at Librivox 

300px-Erckmann-Chatrian_woodburytypeEmile Erckmann and Louis-Alexandre Chatrian

Hardly anyone reads these guys anymore. So, I figured it was time for a reminder. Known as “The Twins,” this famous French duo wrote many tales of the supernatural during the mid- to late-1800s. The Crab Spider, The Man-Wolf, The Wild Hunstman received much praise from M.R. James.  H.P. Lovecraft admired their work; Flaubert had nothing kind to say about them. Together they published 60 volumes of short stories, novels, and plays.

Some of their other titles you might like:  The Murderer’s Violin, The Owls’s Ear, The Three Souls, The Child Stealer.  I found The Owl’s Ear to be an especially creepy and suspenseful read. You can listen to The Owl’s Ear at Librivox.

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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

 

 

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, horror, occult, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, witches

Dreaming Little Traps of Horror

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel   by Thomas Ligotti  (2005)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 11, 2014

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Have you been watching Nic Pizzolatto’s True Detective on HBO? thomas-ligotti Pizzolatto says in an interview with The Arkham Digest  that “the work and vision of Thomas Ligotti was very influential for imagining Cohle’s (Rustin Cohle) overall worldview.” Cohle is a nihilistic and hypnotic character in this compelling crime and horror series. If you became mesmerized watching True Detective as I have, you will likely enjoy the short stories of Thomas Ligotti. His prose is luscious and the philosophy of horror one of the darkest you’ll experience. And while Ligotti is not a classic dead author as I normally feature here, I felt stimulated this week at the conclusion of True Detective to read one of Ligotti’s shorts.

Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel is about angels and demons with a dash of Gnostic theology. Add nightmares and the power of evil (favorite elements of my reading and in my own writing) and you’ve got a story intense with horror.

A young boy suffering from nightmares is brought to the long-widowed and witchy Mrs. Rinaldi for her curative methods.

“Do you know what dreams are?” she asked quietly, and then immediately began to answer her own question. “They are parasites-maggots of the mind and soul, feeding on the mind and soul as ordinary maggots feed on the body. And their feeding on the mind and soul in turn gnaws away at the body, which in turn again affects the mind and the soul, and so on until death.”

Until death. Makes one wonder if you could literally die inside of a nightmare … and then what? Does the nightmare triumph in the end? This young boy’s bodiless nocturnal adventures are not to be missed as you go with him into the blackness of old time.

Read Mrs. Rinaldi’s Angel at Ligotti.net

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In keeping with today’s dream themes and for my classic horror fans …

HOUSENightmares5642762The House of the Nightmare  by Edward Lucas White (1906)

Edward Lucas White wrote stories based on his own nightmares. This story is more than fantasy or a writer’s imagination. Our narrator is a traveler in the countryside when the image of a white stone catches his eye and he crashes his motorcar. He is knocked out and awakens to find a young boy with a hideous harelip, staring intensely at him. He spends the night inside the boy’s house and drops into a nightmare.

“It had a hot, slobbering, red mouth, full of big tusks, and its jaws worked hungrily. It shuffled and hunched itself forward, inch by inch, till its vast forelegs straddled the bed.

This story will remind you of being a little kid, alone in your darkened room, afraid of the monster under the bed. White’s most famous short story collections are Lukundoo and Song of the Sirens

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Read The House of the Nightmare at Gaslight.mtroyal.ca

Listen to the audio at Librivox Recordings

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TRUE DETECTIVE LINKS YOU  MIGHT LIKE

 WSJ blog:  http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/02/02/writer-nic-pizzolatto-on-thomas-ligotti-and-the-weird-secrets-of-true-detective/

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/allenstjohn/2014/03/09/six-things-to-watch-for-in-the-true-detective-finale/

HBO: http://www.hbo.com/true-detective#/

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2356777/

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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

 

 

Art is by William Blake, Red Dragon

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Filed under demons, Dreams, fiction, horror, Night Sea Journey, Nightmares, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror, weird tales, witches

Salem: Glossy Black Beast, White Horns

The Little Maid at the Door  by  Mary Wilkins Freeman  (1892)    Women In Horror

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 22, 2013

Witches’ winds are blowing in Salem. Listen to their haughty chants; watch for their spells and conjures. We love bewitching stories at this time of year, don’t we? Reading is such a seduction with atmospherics, mysterious characters we can’t resist, or a plot that thickens  at every moment so we have to keep turning the pages.  In the story I give you today, The Little Maid at the Door,  the prose hits tenderly. The little maid at the door elicits a  deep power in the heart.  Mary Wilkins Freeman writes a historical fiction of family life, of witches in Salem, and the “disease of the mind” when partridges or squirrels might be demons in disguise.  Not to mention the witches’  “yellow birds.”  Freeman was known to write stories of rural domestic life in New England with penetrating supernaturalism. Her prose grabs you with anxious stirring. Read it softly and savor each image because this story is probably one of her best for describing life in Salem when “the leaves came out and the flowers bloomed in vain for the people in and about Salem village.”

“JOSEPH BAYLEY and his wife Ann came riding down from Salem village.”

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The two are within a half a mile of the old Proctor house, known to be “full of devils.” As if that weren’t enough, the entire Proctor family was just arrested and jailed for witchcraft. Ann and Joseph, fearful of what evil hides within the woods there,  intend to drive their horse fast and furiously down the road passed the Proctor house when they see a cursed glossy black beast. Terrified, Joseph speeds up, but Ann catches another sight  … a little maid at the front door of the Proctor house. And here we meet little Abigail Proctor, abandoned child with a corn cob poppet (doll). Is she a witch too, like her mother, father,  brother, and sister? With the excuse of dropping her shoe, Ann convinces Joseph to stop their horse so that she may engage the sad child at the door.

littlemaidLitGothicHowardPyleILL[Image from Literary Gothic, Howard Pyle Illustration]

Author Mary Wilkins Freeman had volumes of her short stories and novels published, many stories in the prestigious Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. She was the first recipient of the William Dean Howells Medal for Distinction in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her writing had a direct influence on readers because of her themes of rebellions of spinsters and the oppressive confines of 19th-century married life.

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Read the full text at The Literary Gothic  http://www.litgothic.com/Texts/little_maid.html

Here’s a little bonus for you.  Mary Wilkins wrote a play about the Salem witch trials, Giles Cory, Yeoman.  What a read this is! Poor Giles is condemned to die crushed between two stones.  At Gutenberg.org http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17960/17960-h/17960-h.htm

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You might also enjoy Freeman’s very spooky tale The Shadows on the Wall: three sisters and a mysterious death,  here at EastOfTheWeb.  Librivox has a narration (26 minutes)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMXbGUG1AUs

Are you into listening to radio plays? At ScribblingWomen.org   Freeman’s short story Louisa was adapted into a very entertaining radio play about a young woman who resists the pressures of contemporary marriage. Listen to Louisa here: http://www.scribblingwomen.org/mflouisafeature.htm   Scroll down on that screen and you’ll find more fiction adapted into radio plays by a number of women writers: Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edith Wharton, and more (and not just horror stories).

 

Good gosh, I couldn’t stop! This author has so much to offer us. Do drop me a comment if you’ve enjoyed discovering Mary Wilkins Freeman’s fiction.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

GoodReads     WattPad    The Story Reading Ape Blog

Interesting Literature    Bibliophilopolis.wordpress.com

Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror

 Monster Librarian  Tales to Terrify    Rob Around Books  

Lovecraft Ezine   GoodKindles.net      HorrorPalace

Spooky Reads    For Authors/Writers:   The Writer Unboxed

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, Halloween, horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror, witches, Women In Horror

Ancient Sorceries, Dabblers in the Dark Arts

Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 5, 2013

“Because of sleep and because of cats.” What an odd turn of phrase. Got you puzzled? There is a deep mystery in these words in Blackwood’s short story Ancient Sorceries. If a passenger on a train said these words to you while stopped at a small town in France, would you think it was a warning or a riddle?

Blackwood, a masterful writer of the supernatural, was a psychical researcher who believed secret powers lie in everyone. So it seems fitting to trust him to mesmerize us totally with his imagination. In Ancient Sorceries, he writes a seamless prose that moves along with a plot of witches, felines, demons, and reincarnation.

The psychiatrist, John Silence, is a doctor of the mind but also of the soul, a psychic physician with great spiritual sympathies for his patient, Arthur Vezin. Vezin, a timid and sensitive man, recounts an experience to the doctor that is so bizarre, that Vezin barely survives to speak of it—or at least Vezin thinks he survives.

Vezin is travelling to London by rail but exits the train at an unknown sleepy hill town in France. He is attracted to this little town and stays at a rambling ancient inn because it was so warm and still, making him want to “purr.” But he quickly discovers that there are secrets in this town and the people he sees. Enchanted with these secrets, Vezin likens this experience to a “softly-coloured dream which he did not even realize to be a dream.”

What a very weird place to be.

He meets a woman with “red lips” and “laughing white teeth.” He falls in love. His intense longing for her versus his intense dread for her propels the story with great suspense. This woman’s dark magic ensnares him. Can he resist the adventure or does he succumb to the Dance that never dies?

Blackwood does not disappoint his readers with this “sweet and fearful fantasy of evil.” Ancient Sorceries will certainly leave you spellbound. Perhaps Blackwood is right that there is a force secretly hidden in all of us.

Read it here:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blackwood/algernon/john-silence/chapter2.html

Stop back next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.

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