Ghost Story Aficionados

The Haunted House  by Pliny the Younger  (1000 AD)

An Ancient Ghost Story,   Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 3, 2017

Ghosts are and have been a permanent feature in our human history, whether you believe in them or not.

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‘And this, my friend, may be conceived to be that heavy, weighty, earthy element of sight by which such a soul is depressed and dragged down again into the visible world, because she is afraid of the invisible and of the world below-prowling about tombs and sepulchers, in the neighborhood of which, as they tell us, are seen certain ghostly apparitions of souls which have not departed pure, but are cloyed with sight and therefore visible.  -Plato’s Phaedo

 

Portrait of Plato. Luni marble. Roman copy after a Greek original of Silanion. Inv. No. MC 1377. Rome, Capitoline Museums, Museum Montemartini.

Portrait of Plato

Are we in good company with Plato? I think so. Let’s take a moment in this new year, apply a bit of philosophy, and believe in ghosts. Let’s go back to ancient Roman times. You may have heard of this gentleman Pliny the Younger (Pliny the Elder was his uncle). Pliny the Younger (in Latin Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus) was a Roman author of 9 books of letters, which described ancient Roman life. He was a lawyer, philosopher, financial wizard, famous orator, and a Roman Senator.

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If you pride yourself on being a ghost story aficionado, you must read this one; it’s probably the very first ghost story ever written.  The Haunted House is from Pliny’s correspondence and begins …

“There was at Athens a mansion, spacious and large, but of evil repute and dangerous to health. In the dead of the night a noise, resembling the clashing of iron, was frequently heard, which, if you listened more attentively, sounded like the rattling of chains…”

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Come read the story of Athenodoros and the haunted house from the turn of the second century AD, in a letter from Pliny the Younger to his friend Sura.

 

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Read The Haunted House by Pliny at Gutenberg.org.

Scroll down to LXXXIII — To SURA (9-minute read)

 

Listen to the audio at TheVoiceBeforeTheVoid.net  (7 minutes)

 

 

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

The Kill Zone

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

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

EZindiepublishing

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

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

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

WISHING YOU HAPPY  READING IN 2017!

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Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror blogs, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural mysteries, tales of terror

Ghostly Chambers for Christmas

A Strange Christmas Game  by J.H. Riddell  (1863)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror     December 20, 2016

 

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There’s nothing more satisfying than reading ghost stories at Christmastime. Even when we read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol over and over again, we are still delighted.  A Strange Christmas Game by J.H. Riddell is a mysterious little ghost story that you’ve probably not read at all, since Charlotte Riddell is one of those forgotten authors, but a popular one in her day.

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John Lester and his sister Clare inherit a gloomy old estate in Bedfordshire. Family history here is not a long one, except for the fact that former owners of the estate Jeremy Lester went missing on Christmas Eve and was never found for 41 years. Until John and Clare stay at the dark castle on Christmas Eve. Do you like to visit haunted chambers? Try this 30-minute read for an old fashioned Christmas Eve tale.

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J.H. Riddell (Charlotte Riddell) was born in England in 1832. Her spouse was Joseph Hadley Riddell. She wrote over 50 novels and short stories, and was well known as a prominent ghost story author. Charlotte was part owner and editor of the St. James’s Magazine, one of the most prestigious literary magazines of the 1860s.

 

 

 

 

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Read this ghost story A Strange Christmas Game at Vault of Ghastly Tales.

 

Listen to the audio, narrated by Michael Whitehouse at Vault of Ghastly Tales via YouTube

 

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Wishing you all a merry merry season! 

On a personal note, as I’ve been recovering from hip replacement surgery (doing well). I have been MIA with much of my writing and blog posting. Book sales for my supernatural novels Greylock, Night Sea Journey, and The Dazzling Darkness are climbing. Right now The Dazzling Darkness is #10 on Amazon Kindle Best Seller List for occult/supernatural genre since Dec. 6. Here’s hoping the novel will finish out the year as a Kindle Best Seller.

Hope to be back at full activity very soon to work on my next novel and continue to discover and post more supernatural mystery short stories  by the famous authors we love to read.

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

 

The Kill Zone

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

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

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 Christmas ghost stories, Christmas stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror blogs, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

Beauty of the Dead: The White Maid

The White Maid   by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1835) Twice Told Tales

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    November 29, 2016

Two women are standing over a corpse. The young dead man is the lover of both the women who are unmarried  and aging. This is a story of an abandoned mansion and the mystical.  And a secret.

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THE MOONBEAMS came through two deep and narrow windows, and showed a spacious chamber, richly furnished in an antique fashion. From one lattice, the shadow of the diamond panes was thrown upon the floor; the ghostly light, through the other, slept upon a bed, falling between the heavy silken curtains, and illuminating the face of a young man. But, how quietly the slumberer lay! how pale his features! and how like a shroud the sheet was wound about his frame! Yes; it was a corpse, in its burial-clothes.

Suddenly, the fixed features seemed to move, with dark emotion.

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Herman Melville once wrote of  Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Even his bright gildings play upon the edges of thunder-clouds.”  Many readers love Hawthorne’s air of mystery that pervades his short stories. This is certainly one of them.

 

Read the short story here at EldritchPress.org

 

Listen to the audio here at Barrow Bookstore Audios 

 

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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

 

The Kill Zone

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

Kirkus Mystery & Thrillers Reviews

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 fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, Hauntings, Hawthorne, horror blogs, literary horror, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs

Author in Progress, a No-holds-Barred Guide to Getting Published

Author in Progress, a No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published

by Therese Walsh, Editor & the Writer Unboxed Community

Book Review and Commentary     November 20, 2016

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Unbox your thinking. Unbox  your writing. If you are a reader of  the award-winning blog Writer Unboxed, then you know about this book on the skills of writing and the skills of getting published. Author in Progress has over 50 essays by some of the best writers, novelists, editors, and agents from the Writer Unboxed  community.

I’ve spent the last two weeks reading the essays. Lots to digest here, and I think it’s likely that this is one of those books that you will reach for during your writing journey and during your publishing journey.

In Part 1, literary agent Donald Maass tells us that “writing well doesn’t guarantee success,” so you can expect realistic perspectives. What should you do about literary trends? Maass makes a handy point about chasing trends. He also has some valuable thinking  about (Part 4)  “How much Craft Do you Need?”  I have about 30 writing craft books listed on this blog site (Reviews of Writing Craft Books) and more than that on my shelf. Enough? Have I read and explored enough of the craft?Maass says the “most important piece of craft is the one  you don’t know.” So, I keep reading and reviewing craft books, and I’m often finding tips and techniques I didn’t know. “The best writers never stop learning.”

Do you plot out your novels first in a sturdy organized fashion? Or, do you use your intuition and write organically and freely like Elmore Leonard, Tess Gerritsen, Stephen King, JRR Tolkien? Ray  Rhamey sorts it out in “Plot It, Or Pants It?”

The legendary “Muse” is a constant struggle for a lot of writers. Dave King will help you to recognize and search beyond ordinary inspirations. I loved this chapter because he names the ‘false muses.’

There are lots more in Author in Progress: diving into that first draft, harnessing revisions, creating authentic characters, how to handle critiques, beta readers, writing by ear, psychological struggles of a writing career, writing tribes, and the very helpful essay by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware–“How Vulnerability Can Increase Over Time, and What You Can do About it.”

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You can purchase it here on Amazon for Kindle or soft cover.

 Visit WriterUnboxed.com for daily posts on writing and publishing.

 

My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.


How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career 
by James Scott Bell (book review here)

Creating Characters, The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest
(book review here) 
Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, & Screen, by Robert McKee  (book review here)
The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker), Annotated by Mort Castle (book review here) (Also The Annotated Jane        Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Annotated by K.M. Weiland)
How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration,
Editor Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek  (book review here)
Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

 

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

Comments are welcome, please!

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Filed under Book Reviews, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, literature, short stories, short story blogs

How to Write Short Stories & Use Them to Further Your Writing Career by James Scott Bell

How to Write Short Stories and Use Them to Further Your Writing Career

by James Scott Bell

Book Review and Commentary   November 15, 2016

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“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”

Edgar Allan Poe

I love short stories and have been reading at least one a week for the past 4 years for this blog and for years before that. A short story is a great lunch companion, especially if you are reading some of the great flash fiction that’s out there these days. Did you ever wonder who wrote the first short story? Scheherazade and The Canterbury Tales come to mind, right? I suppose some might say the Bible were the first stories. Others claim Sir Walter Scott’s  The Two Drovers published in Chronicles of the Canongate in 1827 was the official  first short story published.

But what are the elements of a good short story?  I’ve been writing short stories and novels for some 20 years, and creatively speaking they demand the same skills and practice for storytelling and characterization.  A short story traditionally focuses on one incident,  a single plot, a single setting, often limited to a few characters, and proceeds over a short period of time. At its core, it produces a single narrative effect and that’s why it works so well with an afternoon pot of  tea and a tuna sandwich.

For readers,  we want drama, suspense, a unified impression, vivid sensations, action, climax, thrilling characters, and a satisfactory resolution. And we want it in one sitting and in less than 6000 words. This is not a small achievement! How does a writer do it? Lots of hard work and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting.

Author Kurt Vonnegut offers eight essential tips on how to write a short story:

  • Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  • Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  • Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  • Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
  • Start as close to the end as possible.
  • Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  • Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  • Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

But this really doesn’t give you enough if you are a  new to writing short fiction or struggling to be a successful short story writer out there in the highly competitive publishing market.  And I can tell you from experience, becoming a short story writer has just as many challenges and obstacles as becoming a novelist. These days, writing the story is one side of the work; then there’s the “getting it published” or marketing it yourself.

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Fortunately, James Scott Bell has written a book that addresses both writing and marketing. This book will grow your writing skills on voice and POV, give you the keys to make your reader feel the characters in your story, and the discover the best structure for short fiction.  How do you find your story? Need a road map? Bell has got it for you. And once you get your story written, Bell gives you tips on getting it edited, into a professional electronic format, with book cover. And he identifies publications submission options as well as advice on getting it up on Amazon.com if you choose to self-publish. The beauty of this book is that it gives you the full distance, from start-up to writing down the bones and to getting it to readers.

Bell uses examples from the best writers (Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, Ray Bradbury, John Cheever, Stephen King, and many others) and gives you 5 excellent short stories to read to set the bar for you. One big disappointment, though, in this book is that Bell didn’t spot a single female author in all his examples and writing samples.  Our literary world is loaded with talented and smart women writers. Why was there no mention of Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Bowen, Ruth Rendell, Daphne du Maurier,  Joyce Carol Oates, Kate Chopin, Kelly Link, Mary Shelley, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf (some of whose short stories can be found here on this blog site via the index).

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James Scott Bell is an award-winning (Christy Award) best-selling author of seven thrillers, and several writing craft books: Voice, the Power of Great Writing; Super Structure; Just Write; The Mental Game of Writing; and more.

 

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My Recommended List of the Best Writing Books I’ve Read.

Creating Characters, The Complete Guide to Populating Your Fiction, by the Editors of Writer’s Digest
(book review here) 
Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, & Screen, by Robert McKee  (book review here)
The Annotated Dracula (Bram Stoker), Annotated by Mort Castle (book review here) (Also The Annotated Jane        Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) Annotated by K.M. Weiland)
How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration,
Editor Piero Brunello and Lena Lencek  (book review here)

Steering the Craft, A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story, Ursula K. Le Guin (book review here)
Writing Wild, Tina Welling (book review here)
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg (book review here)
Method Writing, Jack Grapes (book review here)
Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury (book review here)
On Writing, A Memoir, Stephen King (book review here)

Writing Fiction, A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway. All the basics of how to write: the writing process, show vs. tell, characterization, fictional atmosphere and place, story structure and plot, point of view, theme, and revision.
Story, Robert McKee
Story Trumps StructureSteven James
The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner (I reread this book once a year, it’s that good)
Making Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern
The Art of Character, David Corbett
Getting into Character, Brandilyn Collins
The Secret Miracle, the Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon
Becoming a Writer, Dorothea Brande
The Faith of a Writer, Life, Craft, Art, Joyce Carole Oates
If You Want to Write, Brenda Ueland
Reading like a Writer, Francine Prose
Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Best Editing Books for Writers:
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Renni Browne & Dave King
A Dash of Style, Noah Lukeman
The Grammar Bible, Michael Strumpf & Auriel Douglas
Line by Line, Claire Kehrwald Cook
The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein
Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Second Edition, Ernest Gowers
Chicago Manual of Style
Words Into Type, Third Edition, Skillin & Gay

Comments are welcome, please!

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Filed under Book Reviews, crime stories, fiction, Fiction Writing, horror blogs, mysteries, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, suspense, tales of terror, writing craft books

Absolute Evil, Hawthorne Style

Absolute Evil by Julian Hawthorne  (1846–1934)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 8, 2016

 

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Julian Hawthorne, an American Writer, was the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne. He was well known for writing mystery fiction, essays, and travel books. Absolute Evil is one of his most famous short stories.

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We have a spinster on summer vacation. A remote island. Rumors linger that the island is haunted. Haunted by what exactly? Follow the footprints and listen to the strange howlings.

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“Every once in a while something peeped forth from the shadows of those eyes of his that made me jump—interiorly, of absolute evil;  I was woman of the world enough to betray nothing. It was as if somebody I knew very well had suddenly peeped out at me from a window in a strange place, where that face was the last I should have expected to see.”

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Do you believe people can be changed into beasts?

 

Read it here at Story of the Week. Scroll down passed the introduction and click on the PDF link at the bottom: http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2016/10/absolute-evil.html

 

Come Read More Stories! ENTER …

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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, ghost stories, and supernatural. Join me in reading one short story every other week! Comments are welcome.

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

The Kill Zone

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    

   Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Monster Librarian      The Story Reading Ape Blog

Kirkus Mysteries & Thrillers

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 classic horror stories, fiction, Hauntings, horror blogs, literature, mysteries, paranormal, Reading Fiction, short stories, short story blogs, supernatural, supernatural thrillers, tales of terror, weird tales, werewolves

Greylock is Featured November Read at Goodreads

Greylock is the featured November read at Goodreads, Writers and Readers Group. Join in!

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/37092-writers-and-readers

Greylock is a Chanticleer Book Award Winner, 2015.

U.S. Review of Books: “Cappa’s latest is nothing less than a mind-boggling mystery … always keeping an elusive edge to her characters’ personas—a plot replete with all the wonderful trappings of a romance-laced mystery with unexpected twists and turns.”

Murder, lies, romance, betrayal. When pianist Alexei Georg plays an old Russian sonata, a dark musical power invades his life, haunting him from Boston’s music society to Russia to the summit of Mt. Greylock, where he must find a way to halt the dark force within his music or become prisoner to its phantasmagoric power. From Boston’s music society to the White Sea in Russia to Mt. Greylock. Murder. Music. Mystery.

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On Amazon: US http://amzn.to/1OxPF9B UK: http://amzn.to/1Wp3Flr

Semi-finalist in Kindle Book Review Awards

 “A dark masterpiece. Rare and beautiful piece of writing by an author with an unpredictable and exceptional command of language and mood.” John J. Staughton, Amazon TOP Reviewer, FIVE stars.

“Echoing notes of Phantom of the Opera, mixed with Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe, and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, Greylock 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.

 

Have you met Alexei and Lia?

 

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