Tag Archives: haunted houses

Charles Dickens’ The Haunted House

The Haunted House (in two chapters) by Charles Dickens (1859)

Tuesday’s Tale of Ghosts    November 21, 2017

Have you ever thought of early morning as the most ghostly time? Dickens creates a spooky yarn in this odd story: a hooded woman with an owl, a one-eyed tramp named Joby, and a haunted house in the full of autumn. Perfect for a Thanksgiving ghostly read. Lively, Victorian,  spooky storytelling, and compelling in this portmanteau style story.

“A house that was shunned by the village, to which my eye was guided by a church spire some half a mile off—a house that nobody would take.  And the natural inference was, that it had the reputation of being a haunted house.”

So, our narrator gets his sister and friends to spend the night and discover the ghosts within.  The thing about this story is that Dickens co-wrote it with five collaborators (Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins among them), for his weekly series in All the Year Round. The book has 8 chapters and each written by a different author.

The chapters in the book are the following: “The Mortals in the House” (Charles Dickens); “The Ghost in the Clock Room” (Hesba Stretton); “The Ghost in the Double Room” (George Augustus Sala); “The Ghost in the Picture Room” (Adelaide Anne Procter); “The Ghost in the Cupboard Room”  (Wilkie Collins); “The Ghost in Master B’s Room” (Charles Dickens); “The Ghost in the Garden Room” (Elizabeth Gaskell); “The Ghost in the Corner Room” (Charles Dickens).


You can read Dickens’ two chapters  The Mortals in the House  and The Ghost in Master B’s Room here:



Read Dickens’ two chapters at Gutenberg.org

Listen to the audio (1 hour) on YouTube.com.  

Check out the full book on Amazon.com.




“An idea, like a ghost … must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.”  Charles Dickens

Biographical highlight:  A Dinner at Popular Walk was Dickens’s first published story. It appeared in the Monthly Magazine in December 1833.  He adopted the soon to be famous pseudonym Boz. Dickens’s first book, a collection of stories titled Sketches by Boz, was published in 1836.

Don’t forget to view the INDEX above of more free reading. This is a compendium of over 200 short stories by more than 100 famous storytellers of mystery, supernatural, ghost stories,  suspense, 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



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Filed under Charles Dickens, classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, ghost story blogs, Ghosts, Gothic Horror, haunted houses, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, mysteries, quiet horror, Reading Fiction, READING FICTION BLOG Paula Cappa, short stories, short story blogs, soft horror, supernatural, supernatural fiction, supernatural mysteries, tales of terror

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.


‘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.



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…”


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.




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


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

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





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

Hunting for Smee in the Dark

Smee   by A. M. Burrage (1900s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,  January 12, 2015




Picture this, if you will. The wind-blown English countryside. A peaked house with glossy windows. A party of twelve. You enter. Inside you see passages winding in darkness. The guests speak of hidden staircases. Most guests prefer to sit by the fire and play a friendly game of cards. This night, they decide to play a different kind of game. Hide and seek … in the dark.


The game is called “Smee.” The person who is “it” is Smee. Everybody hides. The hunt begins. But you don’t know who Smee is. And Smee is a game of silence. So, even if you find Smee, he or she can’t tell you. Unless … the ghost says “It’s me.”



This ghost story has a chilling feel to it. I especially liked the audio as it gave me an old-fashioned story-telling atmosphere. Turn out the lights and listen to A.M. Burrage’s most famous ghost story.

Read it at Scaryforkids.com

Listen to the audio of Smee, narrated by David Lewis Richardson on ChillingTalesForDarkNight.com.




Alfred McLelland Burrage (1889 – 1956), a British writer of speculative fiction and ghost stories wrote two novels: Seeker to the Dead and Don’t Break the Seal. You can find more of his titles at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database.









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 and supernatural.

Join me in reading one short story every week! Comments are welcome.


Other Reading Web Sites to Visit

Books & Such   Bibliophilica    Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    HorrorSociety.com

Monster Librarian     HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 Rob Around Books      The Story Reading Ape Blog

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed


Filed under fiction, Ghosts, Hauntings, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, short stories, short story blogs, tales of terror

A Haunting Suspense

The Presence by the Fire   by H.G. Wells (1897)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror     September 16, 2014

imagesThe early fiction of H.G. Wells includes a number of “uncollected stories,” and The Presence by the Fire is one that most readers (even most Wells’ fans) have never read. This somewhat sentimental ghost story was rediscovered years ago at the old British Museum Library (1990s?). Romantic love stories of the supernatural are often on my list and this one, although predictable, is a ghostly experience that reminds me of old world drama. It’s a 15-minute read, heartfelt and haunting.

Reid’s wife Mary is dying. At her deathbed, he is torn to pieces, as he knows he must let her go. She utters a last farewell to him and he hangs on through the last breath she takes in this world. How does he cope with Mary gone from his life? Perhaps his love is so strong that he can draw his departed Mary back into this world.

images-1   “The firelight played upon her face.”







Read H. G. Wells’ short story The Presence by the Fire at StoryPilot.com



Speaking of ghosts …

JBPriestleyHave you read any of the stories by novelist and playwright J.B. Priestley (1894-1984)? The Old Dark House is a haunted house tale (nowhere to be found online in text) but is a film (1931) with Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart (1 hour, 10 minutes), directed by James Whale (director of Frankenstein).

The film is black-and-white vintage spookery, shadows and candlelight, beating rain and thunder. Travelers are driven off the road from violent rain and wind and must find shelter in a storm-battered castle in Wales. There is a warm fire, weird and cranky caretakers in a castle with no beds … and, Morgan a savage who is loose on the property, a mysterious voice upstairs, a madman kept behind a locked door, and murder. Okay, so cliché after cliché saturates this story and it’s full of melodrama, but if you like the old style movies, this classic is one that harkens back like old wine, a bit musky on the palate but after a glass or two, it’s fun and interesting.

J.B. Priestley is considered to be the “sage of English Literature” and is famous for his book Man and Time (published as a companion to Carl Jung’s Man and His Symbols), a book about the metaphysics of time, which I’m actually reading now as part of my research for my new novel (working title Greylock). He is an unusual author who writes about time-slips of past, present, and future.


7122C7BZD9L._AA160_I did find a text (an excerpt) of The Old Dark House (original title Benighted) in The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Ghost Stories, edited by Peter Haining on Amazon.com. This anthology has some terrific old ghost stories by authors Henry James, Jack London, Daphne du Maurier, Ruth Rendell, Agatha Christie, Fay Weldon and Muriel Spark and more (and almost none of these stories are free online).



You can watch the film The Old Dark House on YouTube Cynykyl Video

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.


Filed under classic horror stories, fiction, ghost stories, Ghosts, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror

Lady Madeline of Usher

Fall of the House of Usher  by Edgar Allan Poe

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   April 15, 2014





“His heart is a suspended lute, as soon as it is touched, it resounds.”

So goes the translation of Poe’s opening lines in French by De Beranger. Why am I featuring Poe’s most famous and probably most read short story? Because as the heart resounds, so does this story, just as Poe intended.

Why did Poe write this particular story?.

Once upon a time … oh no, let me rephrase with more modern language for this report that inspired Poe to create the Fall of the House of Usher.


House_of_usherAs it was said … On Boston’s Lewis Wharf during the 1800s, a house stood, named the Usher House. After years of abandonment and decay, the structure was torn down. In the rubble, and in the deepest part of the cellar, behind a rusted iron gate two skeletons were found. Their boney remains intertwined each other in an embrace. Local gossip pointed to the couple’s adulterous rendezvous, apparently trapped in the cellar by the woman’s avenging husband. Romantic? Grisly? Or something else.

Clearly something else, as Poe redeveloped this report into a story suggesting vampirism, incest, murder, and the horror of being trapped and abandoned to die.



The Fall of the House of Usher  is a fiction with high symbolism of splits and fissures, mad reflections, and grim resoundings at every turn.

From the beginning lines—

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.”


To the ending scene—

“… a blood-red moon … a fierce breath of the whirlwind … the deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently…”

There’s a heartbeat of madness throbbing here and you are pulled deeper into the disquieting rhythms. Our narrator discovers an occult presence growing not only within the house and gardens but also within Roderick Usher who is obsessed with the “grim phantasm, FEAR.






But it’s Lady Madeline Usher I am focused on today. We meet her only three times and she never utters a single word. Is she even real? Might she be a ghost? Madeline is said to be of cataleptic nature. Roderick claims she is his twin sister. Does the heart resound more in siblings and even more so in twins?


In full Poe fashion of psychological drama (some melodrama of course), Madeline holds the true mystery in this story. Come and spend some time with Roderick and his sister. Let our narrator point out the clues of fissures and collapses of not only the crumbling Usher House, but of Roderick and Madeline’s very souls.


.I think one of the most entertaining ways to appreciate this story is to read along with an audio version. Let the sound of Poe’s language throb into your mind. Let the words on the page drive the images vividly. Add candlelight. And sit by a dark window.


Read the full text at XRoads at Virginia Edu.


Listen to the audio at AudioTreasury, Librivox Recording. Scroll down to No. 4 on the black selection box. Recorded by Eden Rae Hedrick. (An excellent reading! I like this one the best.)


This link here at Lit2Go (44 minutes) has both the text and audio on one page but the reading is not as expressive as Eden Rae Hedrick’s above at Audio Treasury.


Watch the adapted film version by MGM with Vincent Price and Myrna Fahey.



Other Reading Web Sites to Visit


Horror Novel Reviews   Hell Horror    HorrorPalace


 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








Filed under classic horror stories, Edgar Allan Poe, fiction, short stories, tales of terror

Dreams in the Witch House … Lovecraft

Dreams in the Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft (1933)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror,   November 30, 2012


PICTURE THIS:  A bleak winter’s night. One candle light flickers. You are in the gabled attic bedroom of a 235-year-old house in Arkham, Massachusetts, not far from Salem.  The sinister scratching of scurrying rats from the wormy walls keeps you awake. Above is a cobwebbed sealed loft. A triangular gulf of darkness hangs to your left from the odd angles of the garret roof: slanted walls, peaked ceiling like a witch’s hat,  red, sticky fluid is smeared on a wall above a chewed out rat hole.

Now really, could you fall asleep? Don’t we love to be afraid like this? Well, at least in the safe confines of fiction, we do.

Walter Gilman, the main character in  Dreams in the Witch House  by H.P. Lovecraft, knows his garret bedroom in the old Witch House is likely haunted. That’s why he moved there. Mathematics and quantum physics are his studies; magic, legend, and three-dimensional space much occupy his mind. But more than that is his attraction to the story of old Keziah Mason’s witch trial back in the 1600s and how she vanished from that very attic room by casting her spells on the walls’ lines and curves  into points that created a dark spinning passage into the beyond.  Poof!

A dark passage into a fourth- or even a multi-dimensional reality, you ask? Walter believes this is possible, and he wants to find it. What he doesn’t count on is old Keziah and her darting sharp-tooth furry rodent with a bearded face, and tiny sets of human hands, who sucks the witch’s blood and relays messages between Keziah and the devil.

I ask again, why do we like this grisly stuff? Aren’t you dying to know what happens to our poor Walter?

When the nightmares begin, Walter is certain it is due to his brain-fever. Well, of course! But soon these dreams go far beyond ordinary nightmares:  Walter dreams of unspeakably menacing darkness with wild shrieking and roaring confusion, a labyrinth of hideous bubbling and choking, which plunge him into muddy abysses.  Oddly enough, when he wakes he finds this disgusting mud inside his bed. The dream becomes reality?

In another dream he actually meets Kaziah. The old crone is bent back, her face long-nosed with a shriveled chin. She drags him away by his pajama sleeve into a “violent-litten” peaked space.

Does Walter succeed in his exploration of space and dimensions? What sphere of points does he enter? Does the old witch and her fanged furry horror win? There’s no spoiler going to happen here. You’ll have to read The Dream in the Witch House yourself.

Dreams and nightmares will continue to puzzle and haunt us.  But fiction about nightmares can create deliciously scary tales that we really can’t resist. For another classic short about the supernatural power of nightmares, try The Leather Funnel by Arthur Conan Doyle. You won’t be disappointed in this chilling adventure.

Below is a link to The Dream in the Witch House.  And please take a look at my page of published short story links on another blog page; none are about nightmares. But my novel, Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural, certainly is.

The Dreams in the Witch House by Lovecraft: http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/dwh.asp

The Leather Funnel by A.C. Doyle: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0700561h.html#s2

Night Sea Journey, A Tale of the Supernatural by Paula Cappa



Filed under dark fantasy, Dreams, fiction, Ghosts, horror, mysteries, Nightmares, occult, short stories, supernatural

Psycho’s Author Robert Bloch


I just read The Hungry House by Robert Bloch.  Bloch is primarily a crime and horror writer (most know him from his novel Psycho, adapted by Hitchcock). The prose is a little dated (I don’t mind this usually), but the story is still very disturbing.

Hungry House is a soft horror short story about a married couple who buy a house.

… “Then it came. Perhaps it was there all the time; waiting for them in the house.”

One of the first owners of the house was Laura Bellman, an exceptional young beauty– mirrors in every room. Ahh, vanity! Then Laura grows old, ugly, and afraid.  But mirrors don’t lie … or do they?

. . . “She was all alone. Laura and her mirrors.”

I won’t tell you how Laura dies but after her death, the house spawns  mysterious disappearances and deaths. And the married couple who move in?

You can enjoy this little homespun mystery in The Weird, A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories  by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer on Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/The-Weird-Compendium-Strange-ebook/dp/B006TXZD3G.


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