Tag Archives: Dracula

Forbidden Pleasures of the Vampiress

The Lady of the House of Love by Angela Carter (1979)

Tuesday’s Tale for Halloween  October 22, 2019

 

How about a haunting fairy tale for Halloween? Come meet the Countess. Let’s go Gothic in a decaying castle with “shadows that have no source in anything visible.” Who lives in the castle? A beautiful somnambulist who helplessly perpetuates her ancestral crimes. Think Sleeping Beauty but as a vampiress who lives in a tower in Transylvania. A bridal gown, blood red roses, Tarot cards, forbidden pleasures, claw-tipped hands, and  fatal embraces—”her claws and teeth have been sharpened on centuries of corpses.”

 

The story is written with such beauty and horror, it’s perfect for Halloween. I won’t spend time on the plot (a young officer in the British army comes to her castle, lured by the Countess’s mute old maid), because the following tasty quotations from the text are just too delicious.  What a master of language and style Angela Carter is! You will be transported.

“Too many roses bloomed on enormous thickets that lined the path, thickets bristling with thorns, and the flowers themselves were almost too luxuriant, their huge congregations of plush petals somehow obscene in their excess, their whorled, tightly budded cores outrageous in their implications. The mansion emerged grudgingly out of this jungle.”

“She offered him a sugar biscuit from a Limoges plate; her fingernails struck carillons from the antique china. Her voice, issuing from those red lips like the obese roses in her garden, lips that do not move–her voice is curiously disembodied; she is like a doll, he thought, a ventriloquist’s doll, or, more, like a great, ingenious piece of clockwork.”

 

“She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening. She has the mysterious solitude of ambiguous states; she hovers in a no-man’s land between life and death, sleeping and waking …”

 

Are you anxious for more pleasures of the senses? This story is 5 stars. I loved it.

 

Read the short story here at Short Story Project:

https://www.shortstoryproject.com/story/lady-house-love/

Listen to the audio here at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6qrwIE4jNE

 

Author Angela Carter was named one of the “50 greatest British writers since 1945” by the London Times. A prolific writer of fiction, Carter is best remembered for her collection of short fiction The Bloody Chamber, in which this story was published. Angela died in 1992.

 

Want to read about some of the most famous female vampires?

Click here:

Top 10 Female Vampires

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

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 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

Literature Blog Directory

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Blog Top Sites

 

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Hues of Death: The Crystal Cup

The Crystal Cup by Bram Stoker (1872)

Tuesday’s Tale   March 26, 2019

 

The Crystal Cup was Bram Stoker’s first published short story. This is a tale of love, death, power, moonlight, and of course a woman. Her name is Aurora. We are in a great palace with the king who commands an artist create a crystal goblet. But to do this, our artist must abandon his beloved wife and be imprisoned within the dungeon walls inside the palace. Freedom, artistic creativity, and the power of beauty are all themes here. And dark elements too in living hues of death. Quite an adventure in stunning prose that is vintage Stoker. These three short viewpoints will capture you until the very end. An extraordinary piece of fiction and not to be missed if you are a classic fiction aficionado.

The Crystal Cup Chapter I. The Dream-Birth

 

“I rise from my work and spring up the wall till I reach the embrasure. I grasp the corner of the stonework and draw myself up till I crouch in the wide window. Sea, sea, out away as far as my vision extends. There I gaze till my eyes grow dim; and in the dimness of my eyes my spirit finds its sight.

The Crystal Cup Chapter II. The Feast of Beauty

“Strange story has that cup. Born to life in the cell of a captive torn from his artist home beyond the sea, to enhance the splendour of a feast by his labour—seen at work by spies, and traced and followed till a chance—cruel chance for him—gave him into the hands of the emissaries of my master. He too, poor moth, fluttered about the flame: the name of freedom spurred him on to exertion till he wore away his life.”

The Crystal Cup Chapter III. The Story of the Moonbeam

 

“Slowly I creep along the bosom of the waters … The time has come when I can behold the palace without waiting to mount upon the waves. It is built of white marble, and rises steep from the brine. Its sea-front is glorious with columns and statues; and from the portals the marble steps sweep down, broad and wide to the waters, and below them, down as deep as I can see.

No sound is heard, no light is seen. A solemn silence abounds, a perfect calm.

Slowly I climb the palace walls …”

 

Read it slowly to savor every word.  At Classic Literature Co. UK:

https://classic-literature.co.uk/bram-stoker-the-crystal-cup/

Listen to the Librivox audio at US Archive.org:

 

 

 

Bram Stoker is recognized as one of the most prominent Gothic authors of the Victorian era. Like his immortal creation Count Dracula, Stoker’s life is shrouded in mystery, from his rumored participation in occult circles, to his purported death from syphilis.  His interests included Egyptology, Babylonian lore, astral projections, and alchemy. He was rumored to be a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, an esoteric circle of magicians attended by W.B. Yeats and Aleister Crowley.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading at Reading Fiction Blog. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, suspense, supernatural, ghost stories, ‘quiet horror,’ crime, sci-fi, and mainstream fiction.

 Follow or sign up to join me in reading two short stories every month. Comments are welcome! Feel free to click “LIKE.”

 

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

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Van Helsing, Not Just Another Vampire Story

Abraham’s Boys  by Joe Hill  (2004, first published as The Many Faces of Van Helsing)

 

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    May 9, 2017

 

 

A place that smelled of bats. 

Are you a vampire story fan? Strong enough to handle serious horror? Is one of your favorite fictional characters Professor Abraham Van Helsing? Then you’re are going to love Joe Hill’s Abraham’s Boys.

This 35-minute read gives you a taste of Dracula, a father’s forbidden study, and the loss of boyhood innocence. While I’m not a hard core horror fan (I don’t read high horror much, and my own novels are written in more supernatural elements of ghostly powers, aka ‘quiet horror’), I could appreciate this vampire story as high quality, well written, with the sweetness of terror.

 

 

Read Abraham’s Boys  at FiftyTwoStories.com .

 

Listen to the audio (40 minutes) read by Miss Murder on YouTube.com

 

 

 

 

More of Joe Hill’s short stories in his collection of 20th Century Ghosts.

 

 

 

Joe Hill is a novelist and the son of novelists Stephen and Tabitha King. Hill won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection and the British Fantasy Award.

 

 

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, ghost stories, crime, sci-fi, and horror. 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    Lovecraft Ezine   Parlor of Horror

HorrorNews.net   Fangoria.com   

Slattery’s Art of Horror Magazine

HorrorAddicts.net     Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com     

Chuck Windig’s Terrible Minds  Monster Librarian      HorrorTalk.com 

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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

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

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The Annotated Dracula, A Close Reading Strategy

Dracula by Bram Stoker, Annotations by Mort Castle (Writer’s Digest Annotated Classics)  [And The Annotated Jane Eyre]

Book Review and Commentary  July 5, 2016

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If you’ve never read an annotated novel, that is a close and intimate read of the story, you’re missing out on a highly instructive look inside the mind of the writer. In this case, Bram Stoker.

Annotated novels are like a mini course in storytelling and create a deep understanding of fiction from all aspects. Mystery, suspense, and horror writers, this annotated version of Dracula explores the clever structure, techniques, themes, characterization, plot, setting, and dialogue of the most famous and esteemed novelist of our time.

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Mort Castle, a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award and recipient of the Black Quill Award has been in this writing business for some fifty years and has published novels, short stories, articles in the horror genre. So his expert analysis of Dracula is not only a formidable task but a comprehensive one.

I began reading this annotated version because I wanted to get into the head of a mystery writer of the occult. Who better than Bram Stoker.? Some readers today find Dracula (written in 1897) to be melodramatic, overwritten, and dry at times. When I first read it many years ago, I did find some of that to be true.  So, what will you as a writer gain from reading this annotated version? Or as a reader?

Begin here:

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In epistolary fashion, Stoker opens the story almost in medias res.  Mort Castle points out where and how Stoker seeds the suspense elements into the opening narrative. It is a skilled use of understatement and linking of the supernatural into the real world. And I didn’t see it until Castle discusses it in his marginal red notes.

Castle goes on to isolate the layers of the suspense within the text, identifying the pace as it picks up, and how Stoker slows it down to heighten the suspense. The chapters, as they wrap up, are enlightening in how Stoker chooses to end certain chapters on an up or down note, or on a neutral tone but still gives the reader enough pulse to make you turn the page. The patterns in Stoker’s writing were a surprise to me and in a novel this long, it really illustrates the intricacies of how he weaves them into the plot, and, Castle points out how best to use these patterns.

Characterizations of Harker, Mina, Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and Renfield are iconic.  They all have a unique role to play and yet Dracula himself becomes the center of the narrative. Part of the trick is balancing all these characters’ points of view and their evolutions, including Dr. Seward’s hero’s journey that is paced into the subtext. Very smooth.

If you know the story, you could read only the red annotations in themselves and still get a rich insight to the writing. Some of Castle’s remarks are witty and precise; others are a little corny and too cute. I can tell you this, the book is a literary tour for vampire fans and devoted horror writers.

Bram Stoker wrote 11 novels in his lifetime.

To be totally honest, though, I preferred the Annotated Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Annotations by K.M. Weiland for a superb analysis into storytelling.

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Weiland gets quickly into the “dramatic question” and how Bronte weaves and bobs this question throughout the story and flows it into the soul of the character Jane. A series of seamless moves by a master writer. Foreshadowing? Bronte uses everything from the five senses to weather as a mirror to the settings, and Weiland’s remarks are highly instructive on how Bronte crafts it. I especially like how Weiland handles “the lie” that all characters believe at the beginning of a story. Narrative arc, doubt, false peace, curiosity all play into the suspense to address this lie.

Bronte’s “Three Plot Points” are really clear from the annotations: First plot point is the catalyst that rocks Jane to react. Second plot point is the centerpiece where Jane gets knocked down. Third plot point is the highest point of crisis for Jane and she must go forward.

Want to learn how Bronte creates suspense in five steps? Weiland gives you this: 1. Something happens or will happen. 2. Withhold explanations. 3. Tease the readers with hints. 4. Promise you will tell the readers, then stall with logical delays. 5. Raise the stakes that will put the character at risk.

Literary analysis is an adventure in itself. If you are a writer like me, a writer who is always looking to improve your skills and write the best novel you can with memorable characters, annotated novels is one way to go. An annotated novel pulls a story apart at the seams to expose the separate pieces and puts it back together so you can view the whole masterpiece. And all for under $25.00.

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Do leave a comment!

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

How to Write Like Chekhov, Advice and Inspiration, Straight From His Own Letter and Work. Edited by 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

 

NEXT WRITING CRAFT BOOK ON MY LIST TO REVIEW IS

Dialogue, The Art of Verbal Action for the Page, Stage, and Screen

by Robert McKee  

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Soul Blood

The Dream of Red Hands   by Bram Stoker  (1894)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 3, 2016

 

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This story opens in the grey of dawn. Jacob Settle lives alone on the far edge of the isolated moorland in a small cottage. Our narrator is Jacob’s friend. While we all think of dreaming as normal events in our night life, Jacob is tormented by nightmares and there’s nothing normal about them. Some of us know that when you sleep alone, nightmares don’t just vanish upon waking. Without the comfort of a spouse or family member to anchor reality and soothe the moment, one can go a little mad.

Stoker’s story seems to beg the question, what do nightmares do to the soul? If anyone is in need of fiction about the soul and nightmares, this is the story that will haunt you. Is there such a thing as an evil dream?

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You can read The Dream of Red Hands at WikiSource.org.

I am especially fascinated by nightmares as most of you know from my supernatural mystery Night Sea Journey. If you are also fascinated with the pathology of nightmares, you might be interested in reading Ernest Jones’ On the Nightmare (1931) published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. It includes chapters on vampires, werewolves, witches, and the devil. Are nightmares truly caused by spikes in blood pressure or gastric disturbances? Or is there a soul element to it? Is there a spiritual element to it? You can read the book, free online, ON THE NIGHTMARE here.

 

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Group photo 1909 in front of Clark University.

Front row: Sigmund Freud,G. Stanley Hall, Carl Jung;

Back row: Abraham A. Brill, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi.

 

Irish-born Bram Stoker published his first story The Snake’s Pass in 1890. In 1897, readers were shocked and disgusted by Dracula. Stoker’s first horror story was The Crystal Cup in 1872.

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

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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Walpurgis Nacht: Night of the Witches

Dracula’s Guest   by Bram Stoker (1914)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    October 14, 2014

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This short story is not about witches but  does have the flavors of Count Dracula and a creepy atmospheric mood in the classic style of Stoker’s horror. If you are a Bram Stoker fan, love the novel Dracula and are anxious to see the new movie Dracula Untold, this short fiction has all the qualities of a mysterious journey down a dark road to the supernatural.

We are on a carriage ride through the woods of Germany on the cursed night of the witches. An Englishman in Munich, on his way to visit Count Dracula in Transylvania, takes a carriage ride on Walpurgis nacht. It’s early summer and the carriage horses are throwing up their heads suspiciously into the air. Johann, the driver, passes a road that appears inviting to Englishman and he asks Johann to turn into that road. But Johann refuses. Johann responds …

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He crossed himself and mumbled a prayer, before he answered, ‘It is unholy.’

‘What is unholy?’ I enquired.

‘The village.’

‘Then there is a village?’

‘No, no. No one lives there hundreds of years.’

You are afraid, Johann—you are afraid. Go home; I shall return alone; the walk will do me good.’

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And so begins this man’s lonely walk into the darkened woods, through a snowstorm, into the village cemetery, and the supernatural power he encounters there.

 

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With the release of the film Dracula Untold this month, where the history of Count Dracula is illustrated in the story of Vlad the Impaler, I thought reading this particular short story of Stoker’s would be timely. It is thought that Dracula’s Guest was originally designed to be the opening chapter of the novel Dracula.

 

 

 

 

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In 1912 Bram Stoker died in London on April 20, during the same month as the German Walpurgis nacht date of April 30. His wife Florence had Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories published in 1922. Dracula’s Guest was first published in 1912 with the dedication, “To My Son.”

 

 

 

Read the short story Dracula’s Guest at Gutenberg.org

Listen to the audio version at Librivox.org

 And, if you’ve seen Dracula Untold, post a review!

 

Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com       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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The Dead Grey Eye

The Vampyre   by John Polidori (1819)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    June 24, 2014

 

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If you are a True Blood fan, and haven’t read the first vampire short story in this genre, here it is. No horror blog would be worthy without including this tale.  In terms of historical literature, LeFanu’s Carmilla was the second vampire story in 1847 and then Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897. Some people think Vlad the Impaler was the first vampire story but Vlad was actually a blood-thirsty Romanian (1400s) who actually impaled his enemies and was known as Dracula of Wallachia. Vlad was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s masterpiece. If we want the absolutely first work of vampire literature we have to recognize the German poem in 1748, The Vampire, by Heinrich August Ossenfelder and of course Goethe’s The Bride of Corinth in 1797.

Our author Dr. John Polidori was a friend of poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and author Mary Shelley. It’s commonly known that they all decided, one stormy evening at Lake Geneva (1816), to challenge each other by writing a horror story. The most famous result of that challenge was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Polidori’s The Vampyre was inspired by Byron’s story The Burial: A Fragment. There is a popular quote by Polidori explaining this inspiration: “The fact is that though the groundwork is certainly Lord Byron’s, its development is mine.” Polidori wrote The Vampyre in a matter of days and it was his only work of fiction. He died at age 25, just two years after its publication.

 

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In The Vampyre, Lord Ruthven is a mysterious, British nobleman with a dead grey eye, who had a mesmerizing effect on young society woman. Aubrey is a young and wealthy man and becomes a friend to his Lordship Ruthven and his traveling companion. Aubrey falls in love with the lovely and innocent Ianthe in Greece, and I don’t have to tell you what happens to the charming Ianthe—who by the way, knows and understands these nocturnal fiends.

Dark romance, blood, supernatural, and madness is a winning combination today and was in 1819. This story was wickedly popular, translated into French, German, Spanish and Swedish, and adapted into a stage play all within a two-year period.

 

Polidori writes with an addictive prose and has created characters that are still alive and thriving in this nearly 200-year old fiction. Do you have a favorite vampire story? What do you think of Polidori’s?

 

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Read The Vampyre  at East of the Web

Listen to the audio at Librivox

 

And here is Lord Byron’s poem that he wrote in 1813, The Giaour, about vampires. I couldn’t resist!

But first, on earth as vampire sent,
Thy corpse shall from its tomb be rent:
Then ghastly haunt thy native place,
And suck the blood of all thy race;
There from thy daughter, sister, wife,
At midnight drain the stream of life;
Yet loathe the banquet which perforce
Must feed thy livid living corpse:
Thy victims ere they yet expire
Shall know the demon for their sire,
As cursing thee, thou cursing them,
Thy flowers are withered on the stem.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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