Tag Archives: ghost stories

Snow Beings and Witchery

The Glamour of Snow  by Algernon Blackwood

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  March 1, 2016

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Is it still winter? Are glittery snowflakes falling outside your window? Softy passing, softly gathering. Let’s say you believe in snow beings and witchery. Let’s say you fall for the intoxicating world of silent snow and moonlight. What would you find?

Come meet Hibbert, a lonely writer who takes a few weeks in the Valais Alps, near Lake Geneva, to write his book.

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In the mind of Hibbert, he recognizes three worlds: the tourists’ existence full of social life; the peasants’ village life of simple joys, and the mysterious spells of Nature. One night he goes skating alone on a beautiful pond, iced white like enamel. The wind is bitter clean. The sky is heavenly …

‘And then, midway in the delight of rushing movement, he saw a figure gliding behind the wire netting, watching him …  But her face he never properly saw.’

The figure vanishes of course. She remains a haunting in his mind. Until Hibbert returns to the snow-crusted forests.

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‘And then he saw her. She stood there waiting in a little clear space of shining snow, dressed all in white, part of the moonlight and the glistening background, her slender figure just discernible.

 “I waited, for I knew you would come,” the silvery little voice of windy beauty floated down to him. “You _had_ to come.”

 “I’m ready,” he answered, “I knew it too.” ‘

Do you believe in snow beings and witchery? Believe with Hibbert and enter into a deep reality of the weight of snow, ice, all that magical white powering Nature.

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You can read this story online at ReadBookOnline.net.

Listen to the audio version on YouTube.com.

 

Algernon Blackwood is one of the most prolific ghost writers.  Born in Kent, England, during a winter’s March of 1869, he died in December 1951. I can’t help notice how winter acted as bookends during his life span, especially since so many of his stories are about cold rural and wild locations. This is what he says about the supernatural:

blackwoodimgres“My fundamental interest, I suppose, is signs and proofs of other powers that lie hidden in us all; the extension, in other words, of human faculty. So many of my stories, therefore, deal with extension of consciousness; speculative and imaginative treatment of possibilities outside our normal range of consciousness. … Also, all that happens in our universe is natural; under Law; but an extension of our so limited normal consciousness can reveal new, extra-ordinary powers etc., and the word “supernatural” seems the best word for treating these in fiction. I believe it possible for our consciousness to change and grow, and that with this change we may become aware of a new universe.”  (Peter Penzoldt’s The Supernatural in Fiction (1952)

 

Visit Algernon Blackwood’s web site at AlgernonBlackwood.org. 

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror.  

This is a compendium of over 170 short stories by over 100 master storytellers of mystery,  supernatural, horror, and ghost stories. Join me in reading one short story every week! Comments are welcome.

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Deathless and Patient

The House of the Past   by Algernon Blackwood (1904)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror  November 10, 2015

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If your dreams could speak to you, what would they say? Let’s open that rusty door to dream time. Here is the key. Go deep. Turn and hear the click. Or is it a whumpp? Throw the door open, if you dare, into the bleak images moving about. Let your dream speak. What would she say? She might say … “This is the House of the Past. Come with me and we will go through some of its rooms and passages; but quickly, for I have not the key for long, and the night is very nearly over. Yet, perchance, you shall remember!”

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Remember? Do you remember the ghosts of your past? Will you hear them whispering or weeping? Might you see shadows wearing old dust like shrouds?

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In Blackwood’s House of the Past, the themes are streaming with imagry. Listen to the language and let yourself flow with the pace. This story can truly transport you to another world of the supernatural. Algernon is one of my favorite authors because I love how eloquently he builds a story into a fantasy and blends the mystical with the occult. He’s my number one go-to author when I want a really mesmerizing ghost story. Lovecraft named him a “modern master.”

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Read the short story here at LoverOfDarkness.net

Listen to the audio story (this is a treat, don’t miss it) by Librivox on YouTube.com.

[All images are public domain from WikiCommons.]

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

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In the Murky Twilight

Smoke Ghost  by Fritz Leiber (1941)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 14, 2015

 

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Robert Aickman (supernatural fiction author) said that a successful ghost story must open a door where no one else had seen a door to exist, and then at the end of the story, leave that door open.

In Smoke Ghost by Leiber, Catesby Wran is an advertising executive sitting in his office and chatting about ghosts with his secretary Miss Millick. Not a ghost from books, Mr. Wran explains, “the kind that would haunt coal-yards and slip around at night through deserted office buildings like this one. A real ghost.”

Miss Millick knows there’s no such thing as a ghost and “science and psychiatry all go to prove it.” Who wouldn’t agree with that? On his way home, Mr. Wran is riding the elevated train past rooftops and smoky brick buildings. He sees an abandoned shapeless black sack on the rooftop… and a face in the murky twilight.

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Do you think there is a supernatural edge between the alienated  feelings we have and the unexplained sources of ghosts? And perhaps that door that remains open.


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Fritz Lieber’s fiction was highly influenced by Lovecraft and Carl Jung. He was a poet, playwright, and actor. He has written novels, novellas, and over 100 short stories.

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Read the short story Smoke Ghost at UNZ.org .

 

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The Feet of the Dead

Bewitched  by Edith Wharton (1926)

 Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, February 3, 2015   Classic Tales from Women In Horror

 

It’s February, Women in Horror Month. This is the time to recognize your favorite women horror writers, buy their books, read their stories, comment, and give your support. As a horror reader and author myself, especially ghost stories, I so enjoy sharing my favorite women authors in our history with you this month.

 

6165890_1071303709Today we are recognizing Edith Wharton. She wrote 38 novels, some 50 short stories, and wrote her first novel at age 11. Did you know that Wharton could not sleep in a room with a book containing a ghost story? She was that haunted. I think we can say that a good deal of her ghost stories evolved from a true and immediate sense of the supernatural. She is one of our most prestigious Women of Horror.

 

Bewitched is a story that has everything for a winter’s bleak reading experience. We are on the dark side of New England. A stinging wind with snow is falling thickly upon the old and isolated Rutledge house in Starkfield, an abandoned stretch of land between North Ashmore and Cold Corners.

Prudence Rutledge is dressed in black calico and a grey woolen shawl. She tells her three visitors at the door …

“There’s a spell been cast over Mr. Rutledge.”

The Deacon looked up sharply, an incredulous smile pinching his thin lips. “A spell?”

“That’s what I said: he’s bewitched.”

Mrs. Rutledge is accusing her husband Saul of adultery with the dead woman Ora Brand.

This is more than just any old haunting. We’ve got adultery and necrophilia and insanity going on. And more.

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This Pulitzer-prize winning (The Age of Innocence) author is known for her patterns of imagery and psychological insights. What is so amazing about Wharton’s writing is that you can read her stories again and again and still find them deliciously haunting. You can read more about her ghostly history at The Mount, her home in Lennox, Massachusetts, where ghosts are said to still haunt her property: http://www.edithwharton.org/programs-and-events/ghosts/

 

 

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Read Bewitched at Ebook.Adelaide.edu

 

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I couldn’t find an audio version of Bewitched but did find Tales of Men and Ghosts, which includes several of Wharton’s ghost stories. I can personally recommend “The Eyes” and “Afterward.”

Listen to the audio version of Bewitched at Librivox.org

 

 

 

 

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For more about Women in Horror Month, visit their web site

http://www.womeninhorrormonth.com/

 

 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WomenInHorrorMonth

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Stop by the Horror Society this month to see their tribute to Women In Horror

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic authors.

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In Every Way Ghostly

 The Ghostly Rental   by Henry James (1876)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 13, 2015

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A rambling old house on a lonely road. A drooping elm beside it and a stretch of apple trees all gnarled. A deepening dusk. As the last of the sunset disengages, the fading light touches the small window panes and twinkle there fantastically.

“The house is simply haunted.”

The idea of being haunted by a house is a curious one. And deeply curious is our protagonist, a divinity student who carries Pascal’s little book of Thoughts in his pocket. He is intrigued by this stately house that he just happens to stumble across on his evening walk.

Subtext: the immortality of the soul. Henry James’ ghost stories are psychological stories and apparitional. We all know Turn of the Screw where James infers we do not always know what we see or see clearly what may be the truth. James wrote The Ghostly Rental before he wrote Turn of the Screw (1898) and it reflects a lot about the modern spiritualism of that time. There is a real ghost here and you will meet her.

 

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But first, we meet Captain Diamond. Are you fond of walking in cemeteries?

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This is a creepy rocking-chair read and perfect for a gray winter’s day.

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Read the short story (PDF) at Encyclopaedia.com/ebooks.

 

This story was produced into a film in French and Russian (1965). You can visit the website at Klubkrik.ru/2012

 

 

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Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

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A Ghost Story for Christmas: M.R. James

The Tractate Middoth   by M.R. James (1911)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   December 16, 2014

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Shadows, cobwebs, spiders. If ghosts have any presence in our world, these images will conjure up a few shivers. Every Christmas Monty James, as his fans know him (Montague Rhodes James), presented a new ghost story for the holiday at King’s College in Cambridge. James is probably the master of craft when it comes to ghost stories. He beguiled his readers with his scholarly expertise of medieval manuscripts and his clear understanding of fear.

images-1Antiquarian libraries are always mysterious and this story opens with Mr. John Eldred—who wears Piccadilly whiskers—inquiring in a library for a book titled The Tractate Middoth (The Talumud). Our main character is Mr. Garrett, an assistant librarian, who attempts to locate this book for Eldred. Garrett is a book lover and in his search for this book labeled 11334 (note the number) he encounters a frightening experience. So frightening that it causes him to become ill. But that doesn’t stop Garrett.

 

 

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Noticing an odd smell of dust in the library stacks, Garrett does not find the book at first but he does find something else among the stacks: “ … His hat was on the table, and he had a bald head. I waited a second or two looking at him rather particularly. I tell you, he had a very nasty bald head. It looked to me dry, and it looked dusty, and the streaks of hair across it were much less like hair than cobwebs…”

 

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A death, a will, a puzzle, family greed, a ghost, and a little romance for Mr. Garrett, this tale is perfect for a Christmas ghost story.

Read The Tractate Middoth it at Ebooks.Agelaide.edu.

Listen to the Librivox recording (scroll down to The Tractate Middoth)

 

 

 

 

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Watch the BBC adaptation of The Tractate Middoth on Youtube, produced by Mark Gatiss.  This 36-minute film is well done!

Listen to A Podcast to the Curious, 2-hour discussion (with excerpts) of The Tractate Middoth (scroll down to stream button).

 

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Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free Tales of Terror classic Authors.

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Hawthorne for Christmas: A True Ghost Story

The Ghost of Dr. Harris   by Nathaniel Hawthorne  (1850s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   December 9, 2014

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Ghost stories for Christmas are as traditional as mistletoe and roast turkey. This ghost story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Ghost of Dr. Harris, is reportedly not fiction and his original handwritten copy is not dated. The story was published as one of his “sketches” (scenes from daily life); this genre was in the fashion of the British essay. If you know anything about Hawthorne, you know he had fascination with the supernatural. The thumbnail backstory is the curse on the Hawthornes. Nathaniel’s great-great grandfather Colonel John Hathorne (different spelling) condemned over 100 women to death as witches in Salem, Massachusetts. He was famous for riding out to Gallows Hill to watch the hangings. One of the witches, before her death, put a curse on the Hawthorne family. Nathaniel is said to have carried the guilt of this family curse his whole life. Did it influence his writing? Certainly. Did that make him susceptible to believing in ghosts? Seems so.

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During Hawthorne’s years in Boston, he frequented the Boston Atheneaum, a reading room, on Pearl Street. It is here that Nathaniel encounters his first ghost. He writes about this experience in Tales & Sketches, The complete writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1856). 

images-1I love Hawthorne’s clarity of voice and how real this ghost is presented while still creating a dreamy atmosphere. What is more impressive is that it was not just a fleeting ghostly moment. There is a subtext of communication here that reaches deep.

Hawthorne does not express much fear in this story, but it leaves a lasting impression. What a perfect ghostly tale to read while sitting by a fire, Christmas tree, with a cup o’ hot spiced cider. I can tell you that the prose works magnificently as a read aloud.

 

 

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Dr. Thaddeus Mason Harris

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Read The Ghost of Dr. Harris as a PDF at Anibalan Files.wordpress.com

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Or, you can read this published account in the original Tales & Sketches,  The complete writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1856) In Google Books page 244.

 

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