Tag Archives: psychological horror

Haunted Oleron

The Beckoning Fair One   by Oliver Onions (1911)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    May 13, 2014


TheBeckoningFairOne120X120In a house full of shadows, would you know your own shadow?

Paul Oleron is a writer, creatively frustrated with his manuscript named Romilly Bishop about a heroine who is winsome and adorable, and maybe a tad plump. He finds himself stuck at Chapter Fifteen. With the goal of finishing his novel, he rents a house (a gloomy red brick house with a broken gate), moves in and begins his struggle to finish the story. But the house begins to create its own story.

“A shadow, light as fleece, seemed to take shape in the kitchen … The low illumination on the blind at his elbow grew dimmer … a flower fell from a bowl, and lay indistinct upon the floor; all was still; and then a stray draught moved through the old house, passing before Oleron’s face. . . .”

In no time the haunted Oleron, decides to burn the manuscript and begin again, recreating the heroine into something else. But his dearest friend, the winsome and adorable, and a tad plump, Elsie Bengough, suggests keeping the heroine exactly as is. Oleron is torn as to how to proceed. When Elsie endures the wrath of this odd and haunting shadow present in the house, Oleron decides he must sever his relationship with Elsie and sends her away.

images-2Utterly alone in the house, with shadows and whisperings, Oleron grows weak and exhausted, and more deeply frustrated with his failure to write.

“Once or twice he called “Romilly!”

Who is Romilly now? He realizes, of course, the key to finishing the book is to recreate Romilly as jealous, wicked, beautiful, cunning, and altogether evil.

The Beckoning Fair One is as much a romance as it is a ghost story as it is psychological terror. Does Elsie return to Oleron? Will Oleron complete the novel? Who exactly is Romilly?

If you’re a writer, as I am, and create evil characters in your manuscripts, you will enjoy this thrilling story by Oliver Onions.

NPG x29759; (George) Oliver Onions by Emil Otto ('E.O.') HoppÈ


We writers love to feel our characters alive on the page. But what would happen if we become too deeply involved with an evil character and steeped in the creative process? Possession? Projection? Obsession? Creativity vs. insanity vs the supernatural is an exciting theme and Onions does it successfully with a smooth hand. In its era, The Beckoning Fair One was considered to be the best in the genre in psychological horror.

Read the full text at University of Penn. org.   The story is a bit longer  (novella length) than most that I feature here. Settle in; allow the story to fold over you as it moves along with a good pace of suspense.



Listen to the Librivox Recording. I liked this recording but, again, settle in because it’s over two hours. I think it would go well with a savory hot dinner and a very rich dessert!

If you do read this story, do leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your reaction to this classic tale.


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


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



Filed under fiction, ghost stories, psychological horror, quiet horror, short stories, tales of terror

Triumph Over Madness, Phantom or Fragment?

The Yellow Wallpaper by  Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1899)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   February 19, 2013


Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Imagine you are confined in a yellow papered bedroom, bars on the walls, and “rings and things in the walls,” with a bed nailed down and a bedstead that is gnawed. In The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, we have an unnamed narrator (we learn her name at the end) with shifting consciousness between her inner world and the real world. This is a story of psychological horror that is quite unnerving. Although dated—and beautifully so—our character is between madness and the imaginary with a dash of obsession, and, yes, there is something else.

The narrator and her husband John, a physician, spend a summer at a grand house (she tells us “a haunted house”) in the countryside. She suffers from “nervous depression” and “excited fancies.” Because of her odd behavior, John confines her to her bedroom where she can “rest.” She keeps a secret journal and it is through this journal that the story is revealed. What occupies her mind much of the time is the “dim sub-pattern” in the yellow wallpaper. She describes it as “faded and where the sun is just so–I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.”

The symbolisms here abound. The themes are clearly feminism and repressed individual expression as John insists she stay in bed, suppress her imagination, and discontinue writing in her journal.

You will find the narrator’s minute-to-minute descriptions of her descent into madness keep you going to the very last line until her sanity or insanity is determined. The key question to ask at the end of the story is, who is really in control now? Who is free? Note John’s condition in this last scene. I love the little twist at the end, and how her mental derangement succeeds. It makes you want to say, Ha!

Read it here:


It may not surprise you to know that Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a feminist and lecturer in social reform. She wrote 186 short stories. Here’s one of her quotes that is memorable and, I think, captures the meaning of The Yellow Wallpaper.

“Here she comes, running out of prison and off the pedestal; chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”

Leave a comment if you find the ending to be less triumphant than I’ve suggested. There is much literary debate on Jane’s descent or release of her madness.

Stop by next Tuesday for another Tale of Terror.


Filed under dark fantasy, haunted mind, horror, psychological horror, short stories, supernatural, suspense, tales of terror