Tag Archives: gothic romance

Ghostly Images of the Beloved Dead

The Invisible Girl  by Mary Shelley (1832)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   October 15, 2013       Women In Horror Month


October’s Women in Horror wouldn’t be complete without spotlighting Mary Shelley. Today I bring Mary to you as a ghost writer … and something more: a reflection. She wrote over twenty short stories, most of which are forgotten now beneath her Frankenstein fame.



In The Invisible Girl, she writes a story of forbidden love (is there no greater love?). Here you will discover a ruined tower on the bleak seaside between Wales and Ireland. From this tower flows a light. Local stories claim she is the ghost of a maiden who lost her sweetheart and lives within the tower, shining her light over the sea. She is known as the Invisible Girl.


In 1824 Mary Shelley wrote an essay On Ghosts, which are her reflections on the reality versus the unreality of ghosts and is a perfect coordinate reading for this short story. She writes “There is something beyond us of which we are ignorant. The sun drawing up the vaporous air makes a void, and the wind rushes in to fill it—thus beyond our soul’s ken there is an empty space; and our hopes and fears, in gentle gales or terrific whirlwinds, occupy the vacuum; and if it does no more, it bestows on the feeling heart a belief that influences do exist to watch and guard us, though they be impalpable to the coarser faculties.”

What thrilling prose! She asks in this essay, “What is the meaning of this feeling?” I think Mary exhibits the answer in her powerful but subtle ghost story. The Invisible Girl is by no means an ordinary story. The plot presents some questions but the theme is delightfully emblematic. I do so love when the supernatural is mixed with the driving human emotion of love and the psychological depths of grief.

Our protagonist is Henry Vernon, son of the baronet Sir Peter. Henry falls hopelessly I love with the young and sweet Rosina. Sir Peter forbids this marriage and poor Rosina is cursed, cruelly banished to wander the woods with no resources, and surely dies. With this image of his beloved dead, and driven by a frantic horror, Henry goes in search for her body, sailing the coastline to Wales. A threatening storm suddenly hits their small boat in the pitch black night. In the distance, Henry sees a mystic beacon of light shining from the shore assuring their safety. But is it a “fairy” light or is it real? Who burns this light in the deserted ruin by the sea? Is it the ghost of a maiden who lost her sweetheart?

What Henry experiences there in the shades of night, in the sequestered ruin, is the invisible girl.

And … on the feeling heart, a belief that influences do exist.


Invisib leGirlShelley90

On Ghosts is available at The Literary Gothic http://www.litgothic.com/Texts/on_ghosts.html


Read The Invisible Girl at Gutenberg.net (5000 words, 30-minute read)




Listen to The Invisible Girl at Librivox http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/File:Invisible_girl_shelly_ehl.ogg


I sure would love to hear your thoughts about Mary’s The Invisible Girl.


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  

 Books on the Nightstand    GoodKindles.net

 For Authors/Writers:   The Writer Unboxed






Filed under ghost stories, Ghosts, horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror, Women In Horror

Ghostly Little Romance, and Deadly

Sir  Edmund Orme  by Henry James (1891)  [Birth date April 15]

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,   April 16, 2013

If one were to look for a precise opposite of Henry James’ style of writing, we can look no further than Hemingway’s sharp and snappy prose. James writes long sentences with long clauses that have a mesmerizing quality that you might find glorious to sink into. We know James to write fiction a bit like a psychologist—more suggestive than direct— and that’s why some of us love his work because there’s so much to discover between the lines.

This short story, Sir Edmund Orme is not as famous as The Turn of the Screw, but this ghostly little romance moves along with high suspense and at the same time you can sink into the hypnotic prose of the narrator.

When seeing a ghost (in literature, that is), we are often excited that whoever has died still exists in some form of consciousness and  returns to haunt. But the horror of actually seeing a ghost dramatizes death as well as making it so mysterious that we often want to explore more. Our narrator, a dashing young man, is curious about such ghosts.

“The place is haunted, haunted!” I exulted in the word as if it stood for all I had ever dreamt of.

We meet him flirting with the lovely Charlotte Marden on a soft Sunday in November in Brighten. He falls in love with Charlotte. But Charlotte’s mother, Mrs. Marden, has “intuitions” that trouble her; she confesses these troubles to our narrator. Almost immediately, our narrator begins to “see” a ghost.

Is this ghost truly a relic of the dead …  or an experience of Mrs. Marden’s that infects our narrator? Or maybe some monstrosity from beyond?

Read it at East of the Web:


And if you really want to read James’ absolute best ghost story, here’s the link to The Turn of the Screw at Read Book Online:


Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.  Next week, H.G. Wells.

Drop me a LIKE or a comment if you enjoyed my introduction and Sir Edmund Orme.


Filed under fiction, Ghosts, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror