Tag Archives: short stories

Beyond Victorian Vampirism

Good Lady Ducayne   by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1896)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror    February 9, 2015    Classic Tales from Women In Horror 


This is the second week of celebrating Women in Horror Month. Are you ready to explore the short stories of Mary Elizabeth Braddon?


They were dreamers—and they dreamt themselves into the cemetery.

Young and healthy Bella Rolleston takes a job as a companion with Old Lady Ducayne. Bella quickly learns that Ducayne’s previous two companions became ill and died while caring for her. Mosquito bites? Or something more sinister? When Bella begins to show the same symptoms, dreams of whirring of wheels, sinking into an abyss, and struggling to regain consciousness, she is too innocent to see the truth of her employer and the local physician Dr. Parravicini.


What is curious in this story is how the author Mary Elizabeth Braddon uses science and medicine instead of the supernatural to build a chilling story of suspense. Aging and vanity vs. youth and beauty are the hallmarks of this story not to mention poverty vs. money. The subtext runs a lovely quiet horror tone that is smoothly written by a master writer.


Mary-Elizabeth-Braddon-horse-228x300Mary Elizabeth Braddon, born in London in 1835, wrote some ninety books, short stories, essays, and plays and was revered for her ‘sensation novels.’ She was rated alongside Wilkie Collins and admired by Charles Dickens and Henry James. Lady Audley’s Secret was her most popular novel. She introduced one of the first female detectives Eleanor Vane in Eleanor’s Victory (1863) and then again in 1864 created sleuth Margaret Wilmot in Henry Dunbar. At Chrighton Abbey, Dead Love Has Chains, and The Doctor’s Wife are worthy of rediscovery.





You can read Good Lady Ducayne online at Gutenberg.net.au. Scroll down to the title.

Listen to audio versions of Braddon’s short stories (Sorry, Lady Ducayne is not among them but other short stories here are quite good) at Librivox.org Library.


I can highly recommend Braddon’s At Chrighton Abbey. This is Downton Abbey with a ghost. Sarah Chrighton returns to her homestead Chrighton Abbey, to the wintery “fairy forests and snow wreathed trees.” The abbey  is a stately grey stone, ivy- and moss-covered estate. Carriage rides, drawing room firesides,  hunts and hounds, a servant’s ball, and of course the Butler Truefold and Housekeeper  Mrs. Marjurum make this short story a snuggle-up read. Not to mention the family curse coupled with shadowy presences that only Sarah can see. I found this story to be one of Braddon’s most gracefully written ghost stories ever. Read it here at Gutenberg.net.au.






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

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Filed under Christmas ghost stories, fiction, ghost stories, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, literature, quiet horror, short stories, soft horror, supernatural, tales of terror, vampires, Women In Horror, Women in Horror Month

Into the Darkest Valley

Valley of the Spiders   By H. G. Wells (1903)

Tuesday’s Tale of  Terror    January 27, 2015

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Into the darkest valley. Shadows go before them through the trails of the mountain path. Three men are on an adventure in the wilderness: a gaunt man with a scarred lip, a man riding a silver bridle, a dreamy little man on a white horse. They are pursuing a girl with a bleeding foot. They ride for four days, with a shortage of water, and finally come upon a wild dog. This is the first sign. Not long after, they come upon ragged floating globes, cobwebbey, that begin to descend across the valley.


imagesWhat do you do when you see a spider in your bathtub? Are you apt to kill it or scoop it up and send it to the outside world where it belongs? Next time you see a spider, wish on it and gently blow it away. They are cute little buggers, right? Not according to H.G Wells.



imgresWells’ descriptions of gigantic spiders have the makings of a real nightmare. There’s no scooping these guys away. Wells crafts a classic drama about cowardice and pride and the power of nature.  He is considered a visionary and the most prolific writer in science fiction–he wrote over fifty short stories. It is said that all were written quickly and virtually at a single sitting each. He said of his short stories “I found that taking almost anything as a starting-point and letting my thoughts play about it, there would presently come out of the darkness, in a manner quite inexplicable, some absurd or vivid little incident more or less relevant to that initial nucleus. Little men in canoes upon sunlit oceans would come floating out of nothingness, incubating the eggs of prehistoric monsters unaware; violent conflicts would break out amidst the flower-beds of suburban gardens; I would discover I was peering into remote and mysterious worlds ruled by an order logical indeed but other than our common sanity.”



Read Valley of the Spiders at Online-Literature

Listen to the audio version on YouTube.com



Next Month, February, is Women in Horror Month!


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Bibliophilica       Lovecraft Ezine     HorrorAddicts.net  

Horror Novel Reviews    Hell Horror    HorrorPalace

HorrorSociety.com       Sirens Call Publications

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HorrorNews.net     HorrorTalk.com

 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 fiction, horror, horror blogs, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

Do you like 100-Word Flash Fiction?

Some of you may remember that I entered a 100-word short story competition for horror at Horror Novel Reviews. While my story did make the top ten finalists, it did not win. As I am always happy to connect readers to new contemporary talent, I am  pleased to present to you the winner, Ross Baxter’s Body Art. Congratulations to Ross!

Body Art

by Ross Baxter

After seven solid hours of drinking Emma finally had enough courage to get the tattoo she’d always wanted. The other girls cheered as she staggered from the bar, happy she would have a lasting reminder of the hen party.

“You can be as creative as you like,” she babbled to the proprietor of the backstreet shop as he silently led her into the dark musty basement. “Just make sure it doesn’t hurt.”

In her drunken haze she didn’t worry when the old man strapped her into the chair. It was when he started the chainsaw that she started to panic.


ross-baxterIf you are interested in reading more of Ross Baxter’s short fiction, you can visit his web site at http://rossbaxter.wordpress.com/ .  Ross’ work has been published  by a number of publishing houses in the US and the UK such as Bonté Review, Romantic Ruckus Anthology, Cover of Darkness magazine, and others.



AND … just in case you missed my 100-word shortie published with the ten finalists on Horror Novel Reviews, here it is again.



by Paula Cappa

© copyright




The ninth hour. Julietta carried her violin up the darkened stone bridge. “I seek glorious Varlok, the blind angel of the ninth chorus.”

She played her sulky étude to the vale of sky, squeaking such discord she feared the music angel would flee. “Dearest Varlok, I give you my perfect eyes. Please grant me your immortal sonatas.”

The black falcon flew the Dusha River. He pecked her eyes, releasing glittering harmonies. Julietta breathed in the triumphant notes, grew dizzy, splashing into the river like a coin. Varlok soared the stars, consuming her lustful soul like a tasty fish.



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Flash Fiction Horror Shorts: Ten 100-word stories

Are you a FLASH FICTION FAN? I love flash stories because you can read a whole story on a coffee break or as a lunch time read. And I can tell you, flash fiction is technically and structurally very challenging to write.

Try these little fictions at Horror Novel Reviews to spook your day: ten short stories at 100 words each. Settle back with a cup o’ joe and cast a vote for your favorite short.






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The Last Breath

Night and Silence  by Maurice Level (1932)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   August 26, 2014



There is something frightening and yet beautiful in the last breath a person takes before leaving this world. If you’ve ever witnessed that moment of a loved one, there’s no forgetting it, ever.


images-1In Night and Silence we have a story of three people: an old crippled woman and her two brothers: one a deaf-mute and the other blind. The literary symbolism here is captivating and poignant.

The three siblings were known to be inseparable, united in deep affection and dependency, and living in a hovel—presumably in the streets of France. One night, the sister dies peacefully in the arms of her brothers. She dies without a single cry as the deaf-mute looks on and the blind brother clasps her hand inside his.

“Without a sound she passes into eternal silence.”

She is placed inside her coffin in their small hovel. The brothers light candles, pray for her, and kiss her goodbye. When one sees without hearing, or hears without seeing, is illusion created? Or something else?




Author Maurice Level is known for his fiction termed  conte cruel, emotional and gruesome tales. He is certainly a forgotten and obscure writer these days. Night and Silence appeared in Weird Tales in 1932. More of his short stories are on Amazon.51YrUctG26L










Read Night and Silence at Gutenberg Australia.net

(There are three of Level’s short stories here: A Last Kiss; Night and Silence; A Madman. Scroll down half way to find Night and Silence. I can also recommend the other two stories (flash fiction length), especially The Last Kiss, a rather savage love story.


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 fiction, horror, horror blogs, literary horror, quiet horror, short stories, supernatural, tales of terror

Phantasmagoria On the River

On the River  by Guy de Maupassant  (1880s)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror   January 14, 2014


Have you ever shivered inside your bed, frightened to look at the hooked shadows in the corner of your bedroom? Or tremble when the cracking sound of footsteps come in from the doorway? You might imagine some phantom hovering.  Take that lonely night fear of the unknown and bring it with you On the River.

Here you are alone in a twelve-foot boat, far out on the river Seine in the gloom of moonlight. Just you. A sudden mass of reeds close in to blur your sight.  A river might be considered the most sinister of cemeteries since so much can be buried at the bottom of its slow and murky movements.

Our narrator in On the River is a worthy boatman, floating on the lovely Seine, enjoying a smoke of his pipe, a bit of rum, and a gentle breeze. A silent peaceful night, if you will. When his boat suddenly lurches, he’s  puzzled at first. But when the boat’s anchor snags on something much too heavy for him to shake loose, and he’s trapped within the reeds without another soul around to help, panic becomes him.

De Maupassant writes a very atmospheric tale with  psychological dimensions, and a clarity of fear all wrapped up in soft horror. I doubt you’ll be able to stop reading this one. As with many De Maupassant short stories (he wrote 300), some are tales of terror like Two Friends, Fear, The Hand, Apparition, The Dead Girl, to name a few. He is an author who brings his readers deeply into the scene and the guts of a story. On the River is a spooky tale that sails you out … into phantasmagoria.


Read On the River at Online Literature 

Watch the adapted film by Roman Sidorenko  on You Tube    

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

GoodKindles.net      The Gothic Wanderer   Sirens Call Publications

For Authors/Writers:  The Writer Unboxed

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Mysteries of a Crystal Egg

The Crystal Egg by H.G. Wells  (1897)

Tuesday’s Tale of Terror, September 17, 2013

This week is H.G. Wells anniversary birth date (September 21), so featuring one of this grandmaster’s  science fiction short stories is a must for Tales of Terror.

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In The Crystal Egg, we meet a gentleman known as Mr. Cave. He owns a grimy dark little shop full of antiquities in town. Among the animal skulls, boxes of eyes, elephant tusks, and stuffed monkeys is a crystal egg. Mr. Cave acquired the egg from another dealer and as curiosity prevails—who doesn’t find crystals eye-catching?—he couldn’t resist the gleaming oval object and displayed it in his shop window.

Mr. Cave is a little old man, with pale face and peculiar watery blue eyes; his hair was a dirty grey, and he wore a shabby blue frock-coat, an ancient silk hat, and carpet slippers very much down at heel.

Sounds cute, huh? Cute if you keep in mind we are in the late 1890s. Mr. Cave is actually a charming character who endears you immediately. His wife, the corpulent Mrs. Cave, however, can reduce the poor man to quivering emotions and muddle his thoughts. And she does so when two men stroll into the shop and offer to buy the crystal egg. Mrs. Cave is quite anxious to sell the object, but Mr. Cave has some trouble parting with the crystal.

The fascinating thing about crystals is their mysterious refractions of light.  Sometimes you can see into them quite clearly and other times the view is a distorted image. Even colors change with every new angle. If you hold a rounded crystal in a ray of light, what do you think you’ll see?

Eggtales_of_tomorrow_9_the_crystal_egg_000720Mr. Cave does more than just look at the colors and angles of light. He sees a vivid vision within the crystal egg. No dreaming here, no illusions, no hallucinations. This is a definite impression of reality. What does he see exactly? I have a better question. What happens to Mr. Cave when he observes this vivid vision? Do you think the vision will look back and observe poor Mr. Cave?

This amazing little short story raises more questions than resolutions, especially if you believe in … well, I won’t say exactly.


Read it at ReadBook Online http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/9395/

Listen to the narration by LibriVox Recording (46 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=840JrGZJMhg

Watch the 1951 vintage film by Tales of Tomorrow starring Thomas Mitchell  (23 minutes) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6rPm5siOwk


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